**** If it is possible to spoil a story that has practically no mentionable plot and no mystery, but makes do with a certain set of formulaic elements...more**** If it is possible to spoil a story that has practically no mentionable plot and no mystery, but makes do with a certain set of formulaic elements (see farther below), spinning them in circles to make the experience last longer, then be warned: Spoilers line the rocky road ****
I am seldom that outspoken, but in this case I just have to say it aloud - probably all the 'fucks' and 'shits' the characters flung about celebrating their verbal New Adult freedom rubbed off on me: In my opinion "Wait for You" is utter shit and I don't understand in the least why people enjoy spending time on it. My expectations had been rather low after reading "Obsidian", but probably they were not low enough.
So, let's see: Former, rich, unkissed social pariah Avery enrolls in a small no-name college to start a new, normal life far from home and literally bumps into Cameron-I-Had-Them-All-And-They-Liked-It, but because of her past and her personality it takes him a few months to tease a date out of the one girl who resists and her four months of heavy-duty petting (view spoiler)[He never even asks why. Maybe he thinks it's "the traditional virgin way"? (hide spoiler)] and a few mental break-downs to admit she has a problem - a problem of unbelievable proportions, which the reader has pretty much puzzled together since chapter 1 or 2 or 3. That's it! Have a go at guessing! You cannot fail. The quotes are all to be found in the first 11% of the book, most of them on the very first pages:
Reaching down, I checked the wide, silver bracelet on my wrist, making sure it was in place.
A guy had never held me. I didn't count that one time, because that time didn't count for shit.
Parties didn't end well for me.
I hadn't been able to see a possible after when the entire school got behind Blaine.
Nothing could have been worse than what had happened to me, what my parents agreed to.
Apparently my parents were okay with having a daughter labeled a lying whore.
The paragraphs that are not dripping with hints to her - or his - tragic past or with sexual activity consist of artificial, middle-school-level-immature conversations the heroine has with her new cardboard friends - i.e.:
'Cam?' Brittany blinked. 'Yeah?' [...] Brittany's brows knitted. 'People who he doesn't know call him Cameron. Only his friends call him Cam.' 'Oh.' I frowned. 'He told me people call him Cam, so I assumed that's what people called him.'
and oily, self-gratifying banter orchestraed by Mr. Let-Me-Bake-For-You-Sweetheart out to seduce an iron virgin:
'So unless you were raised in a convent, I imagined you've been in a lap a time or two, right?'
'I'm a lot to handle, but I can assure you, you'll have fun handling me.'
To be frank, after schlepping myself through this highly praised, much-squealed-about example that has even been practically fought over by international licence buyers, I do not have much hope left for the genre and its ability to bring forth something I can enjoy and I don’t really believe anymore that
- there is a New Adult novel without a heroine who suffered some kind of abuse before meeting creation's finest in form of the hero. I cannot believe how rape or almost-rape or abusive parental behavior has been quickly established as one of the truly unavoidable requirements for a successfully hot tear-jerker romance. - there is a New Adult novel without a heroine who is sexually inexperienced or unable to let go sexually (view spoiler)[In "Wait for You" the author has combined the rape and the virgin factor by a desperate coup de force that is so ridiculous you cannot help but applaud in awe: Avery’s abuser had raped her by going the anal route. And than means hymen-wise our heroine is still pure and extra-virgin despite her defining earlier experience (hide spoiler)], but is oh so attractive to the hero and secretly special and siren-like seductive under the layers of her tragic past. - there is a New Adult novel without a hero who is prone to violent outbursts directed towards people who deserve it, but tender and protective as far as the fragile heroine is concerned. - there is a New Adult novel without a hero who had been consuming girls like breakfast - and is universally admired for that because his sex skills are too advanced to be wasted on one woman only - but who changes his habit from 100 to zero, because wanting the heroine so bad made him lose his appetite for even the most appealing piece of ass on legs. - there is a New Adult hero who is not filthily rich or at least in possession of a convenient amount of money in form of a trust fund, royalties, or a well-paying business he started at an astonishing young age. - there is a New Adult novel in which the characters are really on their way to become thinking, independent grown-ups instead of being closet High Schoolers playing College with a drawer full of condoms and a key to their own apartment or trailer.
In the light of "Wait for You" and its equally awful chronies I think have to be fair and eventually take all the titles I enthusiastically added to my New Adult shelf last year (i.e. "Holier than Thou", "The Piper's Son", „Where She Went“, "Raw Blue", "Come and See Me" ...), when the genre began to coin itself, off again. For in my opinion it counts as an affront to those titles to be grouped together with books that fulfill the above mentioned basic prerequisites - which really I cannot stand to come across anymore.
Recently I accidentally noticed (view spoiler)[Let me assure you: I did not actively seek it out (hide spoiler)] the description for Armentrout’s upcoming novel "Frigid": "... Kyler puts the 'man' in man-whore ... has always put Syd on a pedestal that was too high for him to reach ... there's nothing stopping their red-hot feelings for each other ..." and I thought: Shove it back into the eighteenth century, squeeze her into a tight, but demure corset, hand him an inheritance and a full stamp card of a small-town discount bordello and you've got a regular bodice ripper (I know: There is nothing wrong with those. But everybody knows at least what to expect from historical romance). What is "new"(=different) in New Adult fiction is only the contemporary setting and that strange fixation on sexual abuse.
I am astonished by my own thoughts, but I guess I would rather stick to good old British ChickLit when searching for a realistic story about a young woman finding her place in life and a guy to suck up to than to suffer more of this vile, repetitive and uneventful stuff. Unfortunately I have already "Slammed" and "Easy" on my Kindle and thus I believe I will venture into the jungle of damaged girls and hot, temperamental boy-men at least twice again (view spoiler)[At the moment I cannot imagine making it through to the end, though. (hide spoiler)]. Sad, sad business, I know. So don't kill me for my opinion. I suffered enough reading the book. (less)
'The Lover's Dictionary' consists of short, seemingly unconnected passages narrating the story of a two-years-old relationship between a man and a wom...more'The Lover's Dictionary' consists of short, seemingly unconnected passages narrating the story of a two-years-old relationship between a man and a woman living in New York.
Hidden behind alphabetically sorted terms, that call out for sophisticated definitions, it covers the ordinary, yet inexplicable stuff that the relationship entails: Its beginning, the (almost ?) end, highs, lows, changes, effects, fears, irritations, dependencies, surprises, misunderstandings, lies, laughter, resentments, passions, habits, secrets, toothpaste caps, everything. The undertone wavers between wonder and hurt.
Most of the 'dictionary's entries' felt so profoundly true and a lot of them had a familiar flavor. Some of the familiarity wormed an astonished smile out of me, some wrapped me up in sadness.
But inspite of the narrator's palatable love for his nameless partner I simply couldn't bring myself to like the girl. Maybe her shininess already got cracks in my view, when she confesses to be pregnant right in the second entry. I didn't know her or her motivations then, but her laughter immediately inspired my dislike. Later I discovered her to be one of those persons who let alcohol turn them into the sparkling center of a party regardless of the discomfort that transformation might cause others around them to feel. I just cannot stand people like that.
Still, I felt the hero's emotions. And I rooted for him and for his perfectly ordinary love in all its uniquess.(less)
A friend lent the family saga, which begins during World War I in Thessaloniki and supposedly ends there in the present, to me in order to express her...moreA friend lent the family saga, which begins during World War I in Thessaloniki and supposedly ends there in the present, to me in order to express her gratitute for the many discarded books I had shoved at her before. I couldn't possibly say 'no' although I knew right from the first glance at the book flap that the book and I would be facing unsatisfactory times together. Since the hardback has been already gathering dust for a month and in fact belongs to my friend's elderly mother, who wants it back, I sighed dramatically, but picked it up today - determined to get the book behind me fast. But ... where has my former discipline gone? Not a trace of it is left. Unfinishing books has become as normal to me as finishing one is. And thus, the urge to slam the covers shut grew and grew until I finally succumbed: On page 64. Heavens, what shall I tell my friend?(less)
Kind of interesting with astute observations about how life can change your goals, your personality, your dreams, your values, your love - everything...moreKind of interesting with astute observations about how life can change your goals, your personality, your dreams, your values, your love - everything - without anybody really noticing the process. The twist at the end was surprising, but also pretty realistic. The whole book lacked something in my opinion. Sadly, I cannot pinpoint it.
Street Corner Bookers’ Pile Reduction Challenge 2011, #22 (challenger: Nomes)(less)
The elegantly worded The Language of Flowers made me invest quite a lot during the first chapters, but gambled all my affection away later on. I will...moreThe elegantly worded The Language of Flowers made me invest quite a lot during the first chapters, but gambled all my affection away later on. I will try to explain how this unceremonious drop around the middle of the story came to pass after introducing Victoria to you.
There is nothing victorious about Victoria apart from the fact that she survived to see her eighteen's birthday. Even social worker Meredith sees her only as a failure she personally doesn't deserve. A dark blotch on her white sheet of professional accomplishments: For Victoria has been a foundling baby, abandoned at an age that usually makes finding families willing to adopt an easy task. But somehow Victoria left and was made to leave foster family after foster family, fought in between for affection, food and physical integrity among cruel or indifferent caretakers and fellow foster kids as emotionally messed up and adapted to the loveless situations of their short lives as herself, botched up her last and only chance at a permanent solution at the age of eleven, drove Meredith crazy for the remaining seven years by countless court trials and group home fights and now, on her eighteen's birthday, the day the State of California finally rids itself from the responsibily of its parentless ward's well-being, she does not react as frightened and subdued as Meredith wished her to. On the contrary: She does not use her final three months time in the transition home to hunt for a job and find a room. She spends her days stealing flowers from communal flower beds and people's gardens to plant them in milk cartons, unconcerned about flooding and molding the carpet. On the day of her eviction into unassisted adulthood Victoria takes her flowers and moves into the concealed shrubbery of the town's recreactional area. Hunger and cold do not drive her into wanting to change her homeless lifestyle, but fear of physical abuse does, when drunk men invade her fragile sanctuary at night. Though paperless she persuades an overworked Russian florist Renata to take her on as a weekend assistant by demonstrationg her astonishing knowledge about flowers and her extraordinary skill at creating bouquets. So far so good.
Now you would think you will see the friendship between Victoria and her new boss grow and grow and grow, some relapses to occur, love to enter her life in small, hesitant steps … Yes, I agree, that would maybe mean walking the edge of tear-jerker-like soppy, drenched in the sickly smell of forget-me-nots and red roses. But I did not expect the story to rely so heavily on flashbacks to Victoria's time on Elizabeth's vine-yard - which triggered her all-consuming obsession about the meaning each decorative plant used to have in European culture – that climax in revealing the outrageous reason for the planned adoption to go amiss (view spoiler)[Her actions made me really irrevocably hate Elizabeth. That was inexcusable to do to someone who felt loved and wanted for the very first time (hide spoiler)] and for Victoria to go finally - and understandably - feral.
My initially strong connection to Victoria slowly began to unravel, when she starts to get to know / date Grant, a young flower-farm owner she fleetingly knows from her childhood. I understood her reserve, her mistrust, her outstretched feelers. But I resented her self-centered, cat-and-mouse-style behavior (view spoiler)[ and it really failed me how she first sleeps under Grant's kitchen table to protect herself from him and has him sleep outside the house while she locks all doors, but suddenly decides to let him use her body without really wanting him and without spending even half a thought on contraception. There must have been dozens of pregnant or infected girls in the foster homes to observe. (hide spoiler)]. A friend of mine said Diffenbaugh's style reminded him a lot of the novels by Sarah Addison Allen. I do understand, because the works of both contain dark pasts and the woven-in magic of fruits or flowers or gardens. My association goes into a different direction, though: The heroine Victoria and her actions reminded me the most of is Carly from Raw Blue by Kirsty Eagar. If you liked the romance in that novel, you might enjoy Victoria's and Grant's love-story as well.
The last thread between Victoria and me was torn when she declines everyone's help (view spoiler)[ during her pregnancy and especially after the birth of her daughter (hide spoiler)], but selfishly makes the persons around her maintain, support, sacrifice, worry, plan and work for her even more than if she had accepted being advised and assisted right in the beginning. Why does she stop working? (view spoiler)[Why does she move back into the forest during her pregnancy, depriving her unborn kid of warmth, vitamins and proper nourishment needed to thrive inside her womb? (hide spoiler)] She could have managed. And why does she start her own and illegal wedding flowers business – a bitter competition to her boss' business when she could have just asked Renata to integrate her unique service into her shop's palette for a more generous salary? Since she was still using Renata's wholesale card to buy the flowers she needed, Renata could have easily done her in by simply reporting her to the authorities. (view spoiler)[Plus, I hated the exclusiveness, that garantees her only successful mouth-to-mouth propaganda: She decides only to carter to couples who look like they will stay together, which later could be attributed to Victoria's choice of flowery accessories. The bouquets themselves are prepared by homeless girls, because only the flowers' happiness-inducing magic will be important for the wedding. How the bridal centerpiece looked and smelled and lasted, is of no concern whatsoever. A highly unlikely concept in my opinion. I, personally, would never, ever use Victoria's "Message" service. If I wanted, I could look up any flower's meaning by myself and I would not pay attrocious prices to have clumsily gathered mosses and leaves on my dinner table. (hide spoiler)]
I need to stress that I actually have thought maybe it's me, maybe I have just not enough stomach lining and empathy for the broken mind of someone with a devastating childhood. The author information at the end of the book mentions that Vanessa Diffenbaugh has personal first-hand experience with raising foster kids. Apparently she gave home to one or more. After reading the book I do not question that at all. But when I compare my reading experience of The Language of Flowers to that of other stories featuring difficult or hard-to-like main characters, I am sure that a truely skillful author can make me feel and ache and root for any protagonist, no matter how strange or evil. I have just finished reading Froi of the Exiles (yes, it is Fantasy, I know). Fact is, when I was reading the volume preceeding it, I would have never guessed Melina Marchetta would get me to like him. Now I love him fiercely. Maybe his personal growth is fantastical, unrealistic, but maybe it is simply magic. The kind of magic only the best authors can evoke in a reader's mind.
Because of that believe I do not feel any reservations to rate the second half of this book only with two stars in contrast to my four star expectation in the beginning.
Completely off-track, but on my mind: If you like flower-shop-based plots, you might perhaps enjoy the Japanese movie Oto-na-ri. It is about a lonely thirty-something florist and a celebrity photographer, who dreams of shooting Canadian landscapes, living wall-to-wall in an apartment building without meeting each other. It is sad and funny and bittersweet. I loved it.
A lot of thanks go to Netgalley and to the publisher, Random House, for giving me access to an electronic review copy in exchange for this honest review. (less)
The film was so beautiful and keeps haunting me. Maybe I should reenter the book at the point I had abandoned in 2011 and read the second half.... But...moreThe film was so beautiful and keeps haunting me. Maybe I should reenter the book at the point I had abandoned in 2011 and read the second half.... But I have already given my copy away for good.(less)
After reading 59 pages and waiting five months for summoning up enough motivation to go on reading (all my Goodreads friends seem to love the book wit...moreAfter reading 59 pages and waiting five months for summoning up enough motivation to go on reading (all my Goodreads friends seem to love the book with abandon - so what's wrong with me?), I have decided to finally put a lid on the case and throw the book out of its designated and by this time slightly dusty spot on my nightstand. I had this subconscious fear that maybe I have detoriated and am not able to concentrate on "real" grown-up books anymore. All I seem to enjoy these days are young adult novels drenched in romance, coming-of-age-problems and/or magic or adults-targeted Urban Fantasy series' in the vein of "Kate Daniels'" or "Rachel Morgan's" neverending adventures. Thus the task of finishing "The Gargoyle" became a necessary proof of my still "intact" diverse reading habits (among my all-time favorites you will find works by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Haruki Murakami and Astrid Lindren). Today I realized that waiting until I am 40 will not do. Maybe I'll have switched to thrillers and detective stories by 2013. But who cares? All the stories I've consumed stay with me in bits and pieces and fleeting images. And what I choose to add to that conglomated blob of reading history at which time of my life does not define my maturity as a reader. Reading is just my favorite pasttime, not my job. So, dear friends, please forgive me for not trying harder to get this book with its hidden gem of a love-story. I sincerely hope the hero's perfect face and much-needed penis will be presentable again at the end of the book. But finding out for myself takes too much effort. Maybe you will be my Scheherazade and treat me to a very condensed version? I am looking forward to meeting you in the chaiselogue corner.
Street Corner Bookers’ Pile Reduction Challenge, #12 (challenger: Kristy)(less)
In short (maybe I find the time to elaborate later, maybe not): Right now I feel like I've got a wyvern in my guts - shredding tissue like mad. Not be...moreIn short (maybe I find the time to elaborate later, maybe not): Right now I feel like I've got a wyvern in my guts - shredding tissue like mad. Not because of particularly graphic horrbile scenes, not at all, but because of the narrator's complete complacency and serenety while relating the - to us - nightmarish story of her life. All the while making it perfectly clear that to her no alternative life plan would have been thinkable.
Street Corner Bookers’ Pile Reduction Challenge 2011, #21 (challenger: Morgan)(less)
Oh, boy. Large parts of the book were so funny and gut-warming, I could quote every second page. But in the end my eyes burned from held-back tears. S...moreOh, boy. Large parts of the book were so funny and gut-warming, I could quote every second page. But in the end my eyes burned from held-back tears. So, so sad. It is a war-time story, I KNOW, but, Mr. Kluger, couldn't you just let him survive to humor me?
Oct. 18th: I've just re-read the last 40 pages and got wet eyes again. How can a book be so hilarious and so tragic at the same time? I just love Steve Kluger's style.(less)