INEBRIATED, author Katey Taylor’s YA debut, introduces readers to Caitlyn Turner, a 17-year-old living in the Bay Area whose dream comes true when she meets Adrien Cross, her favorite singer, after a concert. Cait and Adrien hit it off and begin dating, but she soon learns he has a dark past riddled with substance abuse problems. At first, Cait sees no harm in the heavy drinking and marijuana that seem to be an intrinsic part of Adrien’s rock star life, but when she wakes up morning after morning with a hangover and her best friend develops a cocaine addiction, she begins to realize she’s in trouble.
Taylor’s depiction of her protagonist is fairly realistic, particularly as Cait fails to act on her growing knowledge that Adrien is a terrible influence and a bad boyfriend, returning to him again and again despite numerous red flags. The same goes for Adrien, a wealthy 24-year-old playboy musician and slick predator in the guise of a sensitive, wounded artist. This is precisely the type of person that would take advantage of a sheltered teenage girl and virtually ruin her with his narcissistic and codependent version of love (convincing Cait, for example, that she is the only one that can keep him sober). He is vividly awful without ever quite lapsing into caricature.
While Cait is a believable character, she is not a great storyteller. The best YA authors can write in the voice of a teen while still turning out a polished product. Taylor is somewhat lacking in this regard, as the narration essentially reads like listening to a teenager tell a long story (“show don’t tell” is an oft-repeated axiom for a reason). This may not bother young readers, but there is likely little crossover appeal for adults. There are also some gratuitous scenes of endless partying with a play-by-play of every substance consumed, and teenagers egging each other on with commentary reminiscent of an after school special: “Drink up, my love!” “What a perfect night to get high.” Nevertheless, Taylor does succeed in getting across the vital message that addiction claims and ruins young lives every day.
INEBRIATED has a well-crafted plot with teen characters that are true to life, and an important moral. While the storytelling is a little weak, the novel is still perfectly readable and will likely be enjoyed by young readers.
~Lisa Butts for IndieReader