Read the complete and original review at Word SpelunkingMarni Bates’ Awkward was a pleasant surprise that had me laughing out loud and left me with the biggest smile on my face. Bates has taken a familiar storyline and breathed new life into it with endearing characters, a story that is outlandish enough to be fun and exciting but realistic enough to be relatable, and a wonderfully quirky spark. MY BRIEF SUMMARYSeventeen year old Mackenzie Wellesley has always gone out of her way to be invisible. In a high school divided into the Notables (the rich and popular) and the Invisibles, Mackenzie knows her place. But that all changes after her most embarrassing moment ever is captured on film and posted on YouTube. Suddenly, awkward, geeky Mackenzie is famous. Reporters are hounding her for interviews, talk shows are inviting her to appear on their shows, designer clothes are appearing on her doorstop, and the It band of the moment, ReadySet uses her video in their latest music video. Invisibility is no longer an option for Mackenzie. And things get even more complicated when cute, infuriating boys enter the picture. STORYI’ll admit that I wasn’t expecting anything extraordinary from this book; the synopsis after all isn’t anything we haven’t seen in YA before. But, Awkward turned out to be such a refreshing, charming, and enjoyable read.Yes, the basic plot is familiar- awkward, outcast girl rises above the social hierarchy of high school, outwitting the mean girls and bullies, and gets the hot guy in the end-but Bates has managed to take this basic plot and create something quite special and meaningful.I really loved how funny this book was. Bates writes with a smart and honest wit. There were scenes and dialogue that literally had me giggle-snorting! Awkward manages to explore the world of high school realistically, but I wouldn’t call it edgy. Yet, I wouldn’t simply call it light hearted fluff either. There’s talk of sex and underage drinking, but overall it’s a rather “clean” read.Bates offers readers a really empowering message throughout this book. A message about self-acceptance and being true to who you are. Bates also gives readers an insightful and honest glimpse into the varying family dynamics and relationships that exist. This book isn’t just about Mackenzie’s struggle at school, it’s also very much about her broken, little family’s struggle to stay strong and endure.Awkward paces nicely and never drags; I actually found it quite a quick read. The dialogue is fresh and hip. Modern pop culture plays a significant role throughout this book, which can be a tricky and dangerous move for an author to take. On the one hand, this makes the book fun, relatable, and very much in the moment, yet, on the other hand all the modern pop culture references may alienate some readers who are not familiar with them. I think for the most part though, most teenagers today will find the pop culture focus in Awkward to be fun and entertaining. CHARACTERSI found myself really liking and connecting with the characters in this book. On the surface these characters are a bit stereotypical and familiar, but Bates does a wonderful job of making them engaging and relatable.Mackenzie *sighs*. Oh how I can relate to this awkward, quirky girl! I really loved this character and not just because as a teenager, I kinda was her (okay, even as an adult I’m still the awkward, slightly geeky girl who rambles off useless facts when nervous). She really is endearing and likable. Her dorky awkwardness is never too much; it really does come across as natural. Even the most popular, self confidant reader will be able to relate to this character. What I really loved about Mackenzie is how invested in her story and journey I became. By the end of the book, she felt less like a character and more like a friend.Mackenzie’s two best friends, Corey and Jane, complete our main and lovable trio. Corey is a funny, impossible to not like character. As a gay, fashion obsessed male teenager, his character is rather cliché, but that never got in my way of simply enjoying him as a character. We don’t get to know Jane all that much in Awkward which is a shame because there seems to be so much more to her than just the quiet, studious girl she comes across as in this book…however, we do get to explore Jane’s story in the upcoming Invisible by Marni Bates which makes me super excited!There are various other characters-peers, ReadySet band members, and Mackenzie’s family members-that round out the cast, and they are all nicely developed and fun to meet. ROMANCEWe get two very different love interests for our girl Mackenzie- Patrick and Logan. Patrick is the guy Mackenzie has been crushing on for forever and Logan is the popular Notable that she tutors…and I’ll leave it at that…ok, just kidding.I don’t want to give too much away because the romantic aspect of this book plays such a significant (but not dominating or overwhelming) part. I will say that I really loved Mackenzie’s flirty, fun, full of sparks interaction with one of the boys and you will too! She totally ends up with the right guy in the end and I don’t think readers will be disappointed by the romance.MY FINAL THOUGHTS: Awkward has charmed me completely! Marni Bates has created a laugh out loud funny and relatable story that will delight and entertain readers! A super fun read!