When this book was released in October of this year, I saw it everywhere on Goodreads and Facebook. It was an instant hit with exceptional reviews. I immediately added it to my TBR and couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I love books centered around pen pals, as that’s something I thoroughly enjoy, being that is how Sabrina and I met each other. After reading the blurb, I was sold. In a bit of a reading slump, I was recently able to borrow this book from someone in a Facebook group (thank goodness for Three Girls Lending Library)!
Punk 57 is about two fifth grade students at separate schools that are paired together as pen pals. Misha and Ryen are given each other’s names because their teachers assumed they were the same gender. Despite being the opposite sex, Misha and Ryen formed an instant friendship that grew with them into high school. When Misha accidentally meets Ryen in person, their whole relationship changes, though Ryen is still in the dark. She simply knows she misses her friend and is desperate for a way to get him back, even if that means partaking in illegal activities.
This book was a quick read that kept me interested until the very end. I liked that the characters weren’t perfect, and had their own intriguing characteristics that allowed them to connect to each other. Not to mention the book’s soundtrack listed in the first pages of this novel- ! I really love many of the songs listed.
However, I felt as though this book didn’t quite live up to the hype or my expectations of it. I was hoping for an easy five-star read, but to me it fell flat as only a three star book, in my opinion. While the book would probably be considered YA or NA in genre, I found it to be quite mature for YA readers with explicit sex scenes. This is something I was a little taken aback by and didn’t expect. For parents of young readers and adults, for that matter, there maybe should be a 18+ content warning on this book (CORRECTION: There is a warning on Amazon and other platforms. I mistakenly only checked Goodreads).
Mature scenes aside, I appreciate the message Penelope Douglas was trying to convey with this story. It taught many good lessons about life, love, and growing into a mature adult that younger readers could benefit from. My favorite part was the look into how much bullying negatively effects every aspect of a person’s life, and the anti-bullying message. The plot twist at the end of the book was worth sticking around for too. I didn’t see it coming until I got closer to the end and more details were revealed. The story featured the right amount of angst to keep the reader hoping for a good outcome until the end. There were several ways the story could have concluded. Overall, it was simply an OK read for me. Not great, a little too mature for high school characters, and didn’t live up to the hype, though it had potential.
Don’t only take my word for it though, give Punk 57 a try to see what you think. Many readers speak very highly of this 2016 release.