Review Detail

3.7 3
Young Adult Fiction 3502
Top Ten Signs Liz Czukas Writes Great Books
Overall rating
Writing Style
What I Liked:
The big difference here is that where Ask Again Later was primarily a romance, I’d say that Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless is more of a personal journey/friendship-focused book. There is a romance and it’s quite sweet, but there’s not really all that much time spent on it. What the novels share are Czukas’ vibrant writing and the fluffy fun. Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless reminded me a lot of Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo. Both center on girls who work in grocery stores and nurture what they believe to be hopeless crushes. The thing is that Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless is what I was hoping for when I read Buzo’s novel. They share a lot of aspects, but this one’s fun and the characters aren’t upsetting.

Chloe appealed to me right away. She’s a list-maker, which is something I identify with, though I’m not as list-focused as Chloe is. Her lists vary from the practical to the downright silly, which I love. Normally, I would be irritated to have a list interrupt the narrative and perhaps even skip it, but that was never the case here. Chloe’s a shy girl, but she’s really funny in the lists and her narration. She just doesn’t really show that side of herself much.

On Christmas Eve, one of Chloe’s goals is to learn more about her coworkers. There are six of them 18 and under, and she’s aiming to, if not make friends, at least have acquaintance. Well, actually, she wants to make one VERY good friend in Tyson, who’s nerd cute all the way. Very much approve of Tyson. Anyway, there’s this mystery plot line because charity Christmas money donated in the store has been stolen. Le gasp! And the younglings have been accused of the theft.

Until the police arrive, the six teens are shut up in the grocery store with a supervisor checking on them occasionally. The Breakfast Club is a really great comparison. The archetypes aren’t the same, but the way they grow close to each other despite their differences throughout the afternoon very much is. For various reasons, they all basically kept their distance. By being shut up together, they confront incorrect assumptions and give people a chance to surprise them.

The characters are a fun group. Obviously I like Chloe and her determination to solve the mystery only made her cuter. Tyson’s a great guy, but also sort of the one we learn the least about, unfortunately. Actually, come to think of it, the character building isn’t the strongest in this one. They’re not cardboard, but they’re not quite three dimensional either. I suspect that’s because there are six characters to establish and the books under 300 pages. The character I’m most torn on is Sammi: on the one hand, I love that she’s confident in her skin and sticks to her own style and doesn’t mind if that means people call her a lesbian, but also I wish that there had been an LGBT+ character. I’d have been all over Zaina and Sammi crushing on each other instead of what happens. I do really like Micah though, who shows homeschooling in a really good light. Also, the kissing scenes are great.

The Final Verdict:
Though I think Top Ten Clues You’re Clueless could have benefited from a bit more length, I’m happy with what I got. It was light and funny and everything I needed after a dark, sob-making read.
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