This is, by far, the most well-written romance I've read to date in the dubious "new adult" category--not to mention one of the best in the indie pres...moreThis is, by far, the most well-written romance I've read to date in the dubious "new adult" category--not to mention one of the best in the indie press one. There are a handful of other NAs that I've liked, among them Faking It, Double Clutch, and Easy, but this one's much closer to the mature YA/NA writing of The Sea of Tranquility. Albeit with characters and problems that are a lot more fucked up.
This story is basically a much better version of Slammed, which has gotten a lot of attention but I didn't find all that compelling, particularly in the too-honorable-to-be-true teacher. Unteachable is honest about how the fantasy of the older man/forbidden relationship plays into Maise's intense relationship with her teacher Evan, as well as mostly honest in Evan's fixation on her. It's filled with the kind of lust and sweat and regret that you rarely get in New Adult titles, maybe because so many of them are too busy trying to appeal to YA readers that they aren't pushing the envelope enough, or maybe just don't have that much insight to share.
I think one of the most bold things about this book is that as messed up as the idea of this relationship is, it's interesting to see how honestly Maise is portrayed. She's not an innocent ripe for seduction, and her awareness of her own femininity and sexual power is shown in a way you don't ever see in contemporary romances--I mean, why is it that you mostly only get that in urban fantasy? Most women who are 18 are aware of the potency of their attractiveness and youthfulness on some level, even if they aren't mature enough to fully understand the consequences of their actions--or the lack of responsibility, and what that implies, in his. But the situation is put into the right context later on. I do think that a little more time could have been spent on (view spoiler)[Evan/Eric's past relationship, and more proof that this wasn't just a predilection for teenage girls. Because honestly, to me, that's how the situation still feels, and I don't know if Maise's just fooling herself. It's pretty creepy, but you knew that going into this story. (hide spoiler)], and the story might wrap up a little too neatly in some ways. But I'm okay with it, because there is a lot of attention paid to things that are also important, and the story and writing exceeded my expectations in most ways. I also like that the book gives you just enough back story for Maise being the way she is, and gives her enough self-awareness to be sarcastic/realistic about it, without becoming a cliched sobfest.
Incidentally, while the sex is extremely well-written and fairly graphic (and there's a good amount of it, so beware, readers who like clean romances), this isn't just sexed-up YA, as it's not just about an obsessive romance; there's real emotional connection between these two, as well as between all the well-drawn secondary characters. (view spoiler)[Whether Evan's attraction to her stays as she gets older, I'm not sure. But it's an escapist fantasy romance book, so it's not going to get into that. (hide spoiler)]Unteachable is also rounded out with worries about parents, career, identity, college, friendships--you know, all those things that NA is purportedly about but rarely is.
I hope this author is working on another book, because she's clearly got things to say. And I'd be interested in hearing them.
*** This makes such an interesting bookend to Tampa, by the way. I still haven't reviewed that book, but there is so much room for discussion there.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)
I think it's pretty easy to tell if you're going to like this book fairly early on. I felt a disconnect with the writing style from the very beginning...moreI think it's pretty easy to tell if you're going to like this book fairly early on. I felt a disconnect with the writing style from the very beginning, which unfortunately never went away--and if anything, I got more and more frustrated and bored with both the story and the style.
Story: I never really understood what the Game was that these kids played in the woods. (Intial cap is not mine.) The collars and such seemed so silly to me that I couldn't really wrap my mind around what was going on. It also seemed incredibly obvious that the central mystery was going to be resolved in a certain way, even if the mechanics were variable: that is, that (view spoiler)[ a. her father wouldn't be the one responsible for the killing and b. Damon wouldn't be, either. Who it was beyond that would be only a limited number of candidates/red herrings. (hide spoiler)] I guess the other game that the victim was playing was also meant to be shocking? It wasn't very well explained/explored in either case.
Style: The story conveniently hinges on one character not being able to explain what happened that night and another character not being able to remember what happened, and waiting hundreds of pages to uncover the facts when the characters are so uninteresting got to be pretty tiresome. It was also annoying that so much of both their narratives consisted of questions to themselves, especially later on in the story when there were more action scenes. People just don't think in such a literal way most of the time, and overusing that device felt obtrusive and unimaginative.
I'd recommend reading the samples on Amazon if you're interested in trying the book. The style presented in the opening chapters doesn't deviate, and there isn't much difference in what you know about the characters from the very beginning. But if you read a lot of thrillers, there probably aren't too many surprises to be found here.
2.5 stars Amusing satire, but its charms started wearing thin about halfway through. This would probably make a hilarious movie in the right hands, th...more2.5 stars Amusing satire, but its charms started wearing thin about halfway through. This would probably make a hilarious movie in the right hands, though.
There are some pretty gory events in this book, but the most horrifying thing for me was learning that people cook hot dogs in mayonnaise and butter and eat that for dinner. *shudder* The stuff of nightmares.(less)
Interesting and bizarre story, and one that's certainly crafted in an unusual way. But the writing style isn't my favorite, so you can chalk this up t...moreInteresting and bizarre story, and one that's certainly crafted in an unusual way. But the writing style isn't my favorite, so you can chalk this up to as a case where it's just not the book for me. (less)
There are a lot of reasons I wouldn't normally like this book. I'm not a huge NA person, and this sounded pretty angsty...and it is. But for some reas...moreThere are a lot of reasons I wouldn't normally like this book. I'm not a huge NA person, and this sounded pretty angsty...and it is. But for some reason, it works for the most part. The sex addiction is handled in a way that's mostly non-sensationalist (aren't you sick of NAs that feature "edgy" fumbly hookups every few chapters?) and interesting, and the authors write about privileged characters in a way that's mostly convincing and non-annoying, and they do a really good job with the secondary relationships. (Particularly between Lily and her siblings.)
More than anything else, though, the writing shows a lot of promise. While there are a couple of typos and some pacing issues, as well as occasional melodrama and unlikeability, it's a very readable book. Curious how this is going to be 3.5 books, though?
But in any case, a pretty good self-pubbed debut, and I think the authors will be ones to watch. Props to them for taking on an unusual and difficult subject, a well as for a pretty polished book. Die-hard fans of New Adult novels should definitely check it out.(less)
If you have an appreciation for food, you're going to love this sweet and funny book. I finished it in one day, thoroughly charmed--and thoroughly HUN...moreIf you have an appreciation for food, you're going to love this sweet and funny book. I finished it in one day, thoroughly charmed--and thoroughly HUNGRY.
4.5 stars There are about 100 reasons why this book wouldn't normally work for me. The story is related in fragments, often consisting of no more than...more4.5 stars There are about 100 reasons why this book wouldn't normally work for me. The story is related in fragments, often consisting of no more than half a page. The timeline is fluid, shifting between past and present. It's told in flipping SECOND PERSON NARRATIVE. But it works, it works beautifully.