Rennison, Louise. Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions of Georgia Nicolson. New York: HarperTempest, 1999.
Louise Rennison’s Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging presents the diary of 14-year-old, British Georgia Nicolson. Georgia documents her day to day life – attending a private school, which she refers to as “Stalag 14” with a “bunch of sadistic teachers” (4), criticizing her appearance, “I am very ugly and need to go into an ugly home” (4), obsessing over boys, complaining about her parents, and babysitting her little sister. Horn Book Magazine states, “Sincerest flattery was surely Louise Rennison's intention with this unabashed imitation of Helen Fielding's adult bestseller, Bridget Jones's Diary” (320-321). Georgia’s diary is “just like Bridget's: improbable but undeniably funny, with our comic British heroine forever finding herself in embarrassing predicaments. Like Bridget, Georgia is obsessed with her appearance (here it's her nose, not her thighs) [and] has the worst luck with the opposite sex” (320-321). Georgia chronicles every ridiculous and humiliating occurrence that befalls her in her pursuit of the “Sex God,” Robbie. The appeal of this novel is “personality rather than plot” (Branbander 320-321). Though the novel’s storyline may be lacking, Georgia’s musings and experiences engage and entertain the reader.
According to Nilsen, 14 and 15-year-olds’ humor encompasses “more and more lewd jokes; humor aimed at schools, parents, and other adults in authority… and grossness piled on even greater grossness. Young adults may still prefer their own humor to their parents’ humor, but they are increasingly catching on to adult humor and may prefer it to their own” (205). In her diary, Georgia definitely hits the points indicated to be humorous to her age group; her humor often focuses on school, teachers, parents and (lack of) sexual experiences. Rennison utilizes elements of exaggeration, sarcasm and/or hostility, and surprise in her novel (Nilsen 216, 218). For example, Georgia’s cat Angus is half domestic tabby and half Scottish wildcat, and it grew to the “size of small Labrador, only mad” and stalks the neighbor’s poodle; “sometimes he hears the call of the Scottish Highlands” and attacks his prey, such as Georgia’s tights (7). The hyperbolic descriptions of Angus as large and fierce make him an amusing character within the novel. In addition, Horn Book describes Georgia as “mean-spirited” and her “derogatory comments about lesbians are excessive – and only occasionally funny” (320-321). At times, Georgia’s hostility can be off-putting, but at others, it can also be hilarious. For instance, when Georgia finds a special apron in her father’s drawer, she remarks, “I hope against hope that my dad is not a transvestite. It would be more than flesh and blood could stand if I had to ‘understand’ his feminine side. And me and Mum and Libby have to watch while he clatters around in one of Mum’s nighties and fluffy mules… We’ll probably have to start calling him Daphne” (19). Georgia’s cutting sarcasm in conjunction with the imagery of her dad parading around in her mother’s nightgown is comical. Lastly, Rennison incorporates surprise into the conversations and events within the novel. For instance, Georgia is taking her 3-year-old sister for a walk, when she runs into Robbie, the boy she has a crush on. After a brief conversation, Georgia’s little sister tells the boy, “Yes, I am the Queen and Georgia did a big poo this morning” (p. 64). The disbelief that Georgia, Robbie and the reader experience at Libby’s comment is humorous, especially when the reader can relate to the main character’s being humiliated by a younger sibling. Branbander asserts, “while Georgia isn't quite as hilarious as Bridget, she's a close second” (p. 320-321).
Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging also does an excellent job of portraying the female, young adult’s perspective. Horn Book states, “An often-angry adolescent (rather than a somewhat-mellowed thirty-something), Georgia is, [realistic] enough… [her comments are] perfectly believable coming from a less-than-confident, somewhat naïve teen” (320-321). Rennison depicts Georgia with all of the insecurities of a teenage girl – she is concerned about her appearance and whether she’ll ever have a boyfriend. For example, Georgia wants Robbie to think that she is “mature and sophisticated beyond [her] years” (233), so she dyes a platinum streak in her hair with peroxide. Yet, comically, the hair breaks off in her hand as she tries to dramatically flip her hair like a movie star. Georgia perfectly demonstrates the extremes to which teen girls will go to impress others, as well as the obstacles that pop up in the process. As School Library Journal indicates, “In typical teen manner, Georgia lives in her own world; she thinks she is ugly, is convinced that her parents are weird, positively abhors schoolwork, and has a deep desire to be beautiful and older” (109). At some point, most teenage girls will also be living in their own worlds and will be experiencing the same emotions and thoughts as Georgia.
Nilsen highlights that “series books are an increasingly important part of teenagers’ reading” (37). Rennison continues the humor in On the Brightside, I’m Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God, “further confessions of Georgia Nicolson” (249). Horn Book states, “This teenage Bridget Jones will appeal to young readers more interested in the concerns of their own age group, and Rennison's fans, like Helen Fielding's, will be glad to know there's a sequel forthcoming” (320-321). Young adults will enjoy continuing Georgia’s journey in the second installment; they will be especially interested in seeing how Georgia’s relationship with Robbie progresses, since the first novel led to their dating. In the end, “those who relish humor will be satisfied. Fresh, lively, and engaging” (109).
Branbander, Jennifer M. "Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging; Confessions Of Georgia Nicholson." Horn Book Magazine 76.3 (2000): 320-321. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 31 July 2014.
Nilsen, Alleen Pace., James Blasingame, Kenneth L. Donelson, and Don L.F. Nilsen. Literature for Today's Young Adults: Study Guide. 9th ed. New York: Pearson, 2012. Print.
Reynolds, Angela J. "Angus, Thongs And Full-Frontal Snogging: Confessions Of Georgia Nicolson." School Library Journal 46.7 (2000): 109. Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts with Full Text. Web. 31 July 2014.