2.5 stars Love the narrative voice, and the idea of a book about blending a family (including the girl's recently out father and his new boyfriend). T2.5 stars Love the narrative voice, and the idea of a book about blending a family (including the girl's recently out father and his new boyfriend). There are a few sweet moments, and some touching, if brief, memories of a mom who has passed away.
But Stewart seems really young--so much so that this reads almost more like middle grade, except that there are some unpleasant things that happen later on which would make this inappropriate for a younger age group. He's nerdy and endearing, but he feels very much like a character--his perspective doesn't feel like a thirteen-year-old boy's at all.
I also really, really disliked Ashley, the other POV. I'm pretty patient with YA characters, and obviously her parents' divorce is hard on her. But she is a selfish, shallow brat, plain and simple, and the very few redeeming things she eventually does aren't enough to negate all the terrible, mean-spirited, and dumb things she says and does throughout the rest of the book. I guess she's supposed to be a Cher-from-Clueless type character, but this misses the mark in making her at all sympathetic or interesting.
I'm kind of annoyed at two serious moments that feel jarring in this type of lighthearted narrative, too. (view spoiler)[Rape comes up twice, as does someone taking compromising photos on a cell phone. (hide spoiler)] And actually, there's another thing--a hate crime directed towards Ashley's father. We move past these incidents too quickly and without enough thought for the physical and emotional consequences. I expect more out of any book, let alone a book written for young readers.
So--a very mixed bag for me. I'm not the audience for this book, but beyond that, I'm not really sure who the audience would really be.
An review copy was provided by the publisher.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
DNF This feels like a very slight middle grade book, and is extremely simplistic in terms of plotting, style, emotion, and characterization. Was it alDNF This feels like a very slight middle grade book, and is extremely simplistic in terms of plotting, style, emotion, and characterization. Was it also supposed to be funny? It's kind of sad I couldn't really tell. It's too bad, I'd love to see more f/f relationships in YA.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for this review....more
3.5 stars This is a pretty intriguing novel, especially because the events mostly unfold over the course of one day and the story went in directions I3.5 stars This is a pretty intriguing novel, especially because the events mostly unfold over the course of one day and the story went in directions I didn't quite expect. 14-year-old Lacey has a lot on her plate for someone who's so young; she's trying to pretend everything is normal to the outside world, but in reality, she's dealing with a depressed, unreliable mother and it's starting to take its toll on her. Particularly because her mom still talks to Lacey's dead grandpa as if he were still alive.
While I was very interested in the premise and it's certainly a fast read, I think there is perhaps a disconnect between subject, style, content, and intended audience. The novel is very short and the plot is somewhat simple, and because it only touches on the surface of the topics of mental illness, potential foster care, etc., it seems more suited to middle grade fiction or very young YA readers. But then again, I see why this is categorized as young adult fiction, because the first person narrative and book's focus on Lacey's state of mind really would make this appealing to that audience.
This isn't the first time in which mental illness and a horror/thriller have gone hand in hand, but since there was so much focus on the former, without scenarios and solutions that seemed more sound, it became a bit more difficult to stay invested in the story. Some of the dialogue also seemed more juvenile and the events rather overly dramatic, though they certainly contribute to getting a sense of Lacey's possible paranoia and being out of control.
I'll tell you what made this book for me, however: in the last third or so of the book, Lacey's emotions reach a fever pitch in a way that suddenly and masterfully draws in the reader with an unrelenting grip. There is a creepy scene towards the end when your imagination runs wild and you're not quite sure what's real and what's not, and suddenly there is a question in your mind (view spoiler)[as to whether Lacey herself might be crazy, too (hide spoiler)]. That chilling moment alone is worth reading this book for, and it got me very excited about where the story was going. I just wish I had felt more of that intense interest throughout the entire novel.
Still, I'm definitely interested in checking out other books by this author, and I'd recommend this one as a library read if you're curious.
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I've pushed through to 100 pages, but I just can't go on. For all its braininess, this book feels very juvenile to me, except that girls in most middlI've pushed through to 100 pages, but I just can't go on. For all its braininess, this book feels very juvenile to me, except that girls in most middle grade books are rarely this boy-crazy--and few of them have so little else going on their lives.
Here are some things that make it feel very young to me:
--the story seems to be centered around a "caper" in which Frankie tries to infiltrate a secret boys club --three boys who don't recognize Frankie after her body develops (or pretend not to, anyway) --a full page about boogers --occasional overuse of exclamation points --and above all else, the writing style
Written in the third person with an occasional interruption by some unknown narrator, it's all done in arch prose that strives very hard to be humorous and clever without being very smart. Or deep. Or interesting. At least to me, because this book certainly has its share of fans.
I'll leave you with just one paragraph so you can decide whether this writing floats your boat and if you want to read any further:
Most young women, when confronted with the peculiarly male nature of certain social events--usually those incorporating beer or other substances guaranteed to kill off brain cells, and often involving either the freezing-cold outdoors or the near-suffocating heat of a filthy dorm room, but which can also, in more intellectual circles, include the watching of boring Russian films--will react in one of three ways.
Honestly, the whole premise of this felt like a brain candy book disguised as something much more smart or meaningful. Boys aren't paying attention to you? Who cares? Not me.
1. If this is was supposed to be a YA book, I wish that the story was more complex, the characters more fully dTen (Unfulfilled) Wishes for this Book:
1. If this is was supposed to be a YA book, I wish that the story was more complex, the characters more fully developed, and the dialogue less juvenile.
2. If this was supposed to be a middle grade book, I wish there were no fewer mentions of breasts and men looking at them, fewer mentions of drunken sailors making suggestive remarks, and less focus on the rather insipid romance. Such random lascivious behavior inserts an ugly note into the story for no reason whatsoever.
3. I wish mermaids didn't eat olives and nuts and other decidedly human foods; it just doesn't sit well with me. I also wish mermaids didn't eat fish. While I understand that fish do eat other fish in the wild, there's a certain cannibalism about this scenario that I would think the human part of the merpeople might be uncomfortable with. But okay, if it is absolutely necessary, please give me a reason why this is happening, because in my opinion, it's a little weird.
4. I wish there were more descriptions of underwater life. There are a couple of nice scenes at the beginning, but they're very short and don't really do enough to set the mood. And I feel like you need a good dose of MOOD to set the scene in a mermaid book.
5. I wish Esmerine were a more interesting character. Or that we had at least one interesting character to fall in love with and root for. Sadly, this is not the case.
6. I wish so many YA authors wouldn't make their heroines booklovers. I understand why this is such a prevalent trend, as obviously the books are written by and for girls who like books themselves. But more often than not, it feels forced (Hello Mara Dyer!) and lacking in any real depth or appreciation or breadth of knowledge. Here, the bookloving agenda was pushed so hard that it became somewhat annoying, especially because I kept thinking about the impracticalities of transporting books from the human world to mermaids in a way that wasn't going to damage them. (Silly, but it's true!) The books that are briefly mentioned don't even have any real significance to the story or the characters.
7. I wish there were some sense of urgency to this novel. The quest to find Esmerine's sister doesn't appear to have any sort of deadline and there's never any real danger to any of the characters. Apparently she can take all the time in the world, just so long as she doesn't give up her chastity magic siren's belt.
8. I wish the characters behaved in a way that seemed genuine or interesting or showed an emotional connection between them. Why do Esemerine and Alander fall in love? Why does Dosia fall in love? Beats me.
9. I wish this book lived up to the lovely little fairy tale that was the author's first book, Magic Under Glass. This one doesn't have one bit of that story's charm, and contains none of the imaginative details that made Glass so entertaining.
10. And lastly, I wish the author's Acknowledgements page didn't contain the following passage, which is most unfortunate when the story feels so slight:
I'm sure I wasn't the only young writer who had the Lord of the Rings movie soundtrack on repeat and decided I needed to write a huge fantasy epic with war and tragic death and many points of view. One of the approximately forty plot threads in my attempt was the love story between a mermaid and a winged boy. (This is why you always keep your lousy older writings!)
I think with a little more development and a lot more depth and detail, this might have turned out to be an interesting story. But sadly, in this current format, it's a pretty disappointing read. And the search for a great YA mermaid novel goes on...