Maybe I'm just spoiled by domestic thriller authors like Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott, maybe I want all the wrong things from Moriarty, but whateverMaybe I'm just spoiled by domestic thriller authors like Gillian Flynn and Megan Abbott, maybe I want all the wrong things from Moriarty, but whatever the reason, her books never pull me in. This is the third of her books that I've tried and once again I’m overcome by the slowness, the lack of pull… the sheer dullness of the characters.
Perhaps I do expect the wrong things, but I don't think that's completely my fault. I'm starting to realize that Moriarty's novels are given titles and descriptions that make them sound so much more dramatic and mysterious than they really are. The Husband's Secret, Big Little Lies, Truly Madly Guilty - secrets, lies and guilt, you say? Bring it on!
Except her stories rarely venture outside of middle class soirées. The secrets are anticlimactic, leaving a "meh" sensation in their wake. I'm almost always left thinking “seriously, is that it?"
I have to give credit where it's due - Moriarty seems in tune with human nature. She knows her characters well and they feel convincing. It was easy to imagine them as real people. But Truly Madly Guilty lacks some grit; some drama.
It opens being deliberately coy about the events of a barbecue that took place several months previously. Clearly something important happened between Erika and Clementine's families, but the snoozeworthy-pacing, as the novel jumps between the day of the barbecue and the present, killed off most of my curiosity. Which, as it turned out, was just as well, because the answers are disappointing and the ending feels too neat.
I'm sorry. I genuinely want to get on the Moriarty fanwagon, but I think it's time I admit her style is not one that draws me in, even if her titles and premises do. There are very few authors that can enthuse everyday, mundane activities with tension (Megan Abbott, for one) but Liane Moriarty, for me, is not one of them. I feel like I’m reading a flier advertising dish soap.
You know, I pride myself on not being what some would call a "book snob". Sure, I like my classics and literary fiction as much as anyone else, but IYou know, I pride myself on not being what some would call a "book snob". Sure, I like my classics and literary fiction as much as anyone else, but I also take a great deal of enjoyment from fast-paced, entertaining and light books. Sometimes I just want some YA fantasy or fluffy chick-lit; you know what I'm saying?
So I looked past this book's appearance (as an obvious William & Kate fanfic) to the positive reviews and all the good things this could possibly be - hilarious, silly, enjoyable, Bridget Jones/Lou Clark-style fun. I think I'd already shelved this under "guilty pleasure" when I picked it up and imagined the faux-embarrassed positive review I would write.
Well, I got it so wrong.
I'm not going to judge this book for basically being a retelling of the William/Kate romance with Rebecca instead being an American student at Oxford. Nor will I judge it for not being deep and offering new perspective - honestly, no one should be going into this book expecting that. And I'll totally ignore the rather comical British stereotyping.
But I can't ignore that this was just a boring, flat romance. Literally the only selling point this book as is that it offers lighthearted entertainment and cute romancing, but damn, these characters are so bland. The book isn't funny or even a "hide it under your pillow" kind of guilty pleasure. Here's a horrifying thought for you: Fifty Shades of Grey was more entertaining than this book.
Both Bex and Nick are one-dimensional and have no personality. At all. They're two beautiful, white people, who are so nice, polite and dull that I'm genuinely very surprised to see they have so many fans. The "angst" of their relationship is centred around the fact that Nick is heir to the throne, but the actual romantic tension and/or angst between them is non-existent.
Most surprisingly, the plot moves very slow. This is an almost 500-page novel and a lot of that features drunken college nights (pretty tame ones at the local pub, I might add) and platonic TV-watching in Bex or Nick's rooms.
I wanted to giggle and swoon. Instead, I was yawning and skimming towards the end....more
Sophie Kinsella used to be such a guilty pleasure author for me. I haven't read one of her books in years but I always enjoyed reading about the hilarSophie Kinsella used to be such a guilty pleasure author for me. I haven't read one of her books in years but I always enjoyed reading about the hilarious, ridiculous and unfortunate situations her shopaholic protagonist found herself in.
Finding Audrey, though, could be Kinsella's strongest work to date. It's funny, sweet, heartwarming but also - I felt - an honest look at a teenage girl living with social anxiety.
“They talk about “body language,” as if we all speak it the same. But everyone has their own dialect. For me right now, for example, swiveling my body right away and staring rigidly at the corner means, “I like you.” Because I didn’t run away and shut myself in the bathroom. I just hope he realizes that.”
One of my favourite things about this book is that it's about one of those families - loud, crazy, often torn apart by arguments, but ultimately very close and loving towards one another. The dynamics Kinsella creates between the members of Audrey's family make this book very funny (and sometimes touching too).
Audrey's mother is a neurotic Daily Mail fan who constantly tries to improve her family's lifestyle after reading articles like "The Eight Signs Your Child is Addicted to Computer Games". She's comical, infuriating, but still lovable. Audrey's Dad reluctantly tries to enforce the rules his wife establishes, but he really just wants to keep the peace and watch Downton Abbey. Audrey's older brother Frank is obsessed with a game called LOC (similar to World of Warcraft) and this causes many hilarious arguments with his mum. And then there's Audrey.
Audrey is suffering from a severe anxiety disorder. She can hardly bear to leave the house and gets upset whenever Frank's gamer friends come around. However, she does begin to establish a way of communicating through paper notes with one of Frank's friends - Linus. Who, by the way, is so freaking adorable.
One of my main concerns when I started this book was that it would turn into another "love cures mental illness" tale. I hate that damaging and untrue message. But, though Linus offers support and friendship to Audrey, the author doesn't allow that message to seep through. Kinsella shows recovery from mental illness as a long process of two steps forward and one step back. Even at the novel's close, Audrey has not been miraculously cured.
I liked that. I liked that the book was a good balance of light-hearted silly humour and hard realism. It was really effective.
2 1/2 stars. It's hard to have to say this, but it's not completely unexpected either. When I finally gave in to the hype and read Me Before You a cou2 1/2 stars. It's hard to have to say this, but it's not completely unexpected either. When I finally gave in to the hype and read Me Before You a couple years ago, I absolutely and unapologetically loved it. Like many of its fans, I've been waiting with bated breath for this sequel. But it just isn't strong enough or... needed.
That's what it comes down to. After You was written to satisfy a craving in the minds of Lou and Will's fans. When we've loved a book, we all have those questions: what will the characters do now? What comes next? But these are natural questions following all loved books. It does not necessarily mean a book should be written to answer those questions. (Cinderella II: Dreams Come True, anyone?)
The result of Moyes trying to create a new episode of the story out of such questions is a book that feels like fanfiction, not a worthy sequel.
This book attempts to tie up all loose ends in Lou's life. It's quite enjoyable because Lou is as comical and lovable as we remember, but a certain humourous spark has disappeared now that we don't have the wonderful Lou/Will dynamic. Despite the lingering sadness of Me Before You, I didn't find it to be a depressing book. After You, on the other hand, is much more depressing for the most part - a fact that does not add depth to it.
There's just not that much story to the book, except for the contrived "surprise from Will's past" showing up, and that just turned the book into About a Boy with female characters - lonely woman in her thirties gains new purpose from helping a problem kid.
The new love interest is a nice guy, but is forgettable and I never felt much chemistry between them. Also, I tried really hard to sympathize, but I just despised the selfish, bratty Lily.
Everything in this book feels unnatural - created by the author to extend a story that had already been told to its full potential. The various subplots feel like extra padding and seem pointless. What was all that about Lou's mother discovering feminism and refusing to shave her legs? Aside from the cringy portrayal of feminism, why is that even in there?
I understand why fans of Me Before You will feel the need to read this book, but I just don't think it's necessary. It's mildly entertaining at times, but nothing valuable has been added here.
This book is solid proof that even New Adult chick lit can be well-written, hilarious and meaningful.
In fact, I am amazed at how good this book is. VThis book is solid proof that even New Adult chick lit can be well-written, hilarious and meaningful.
In fact, I am amazed at how good this book is. Virgin should probably be the bible for teenage girls and young women everywhere... it is an honest, laugh-out-loud funny portrayal of growing up, relationships, sex and all the icky bits (and there are some real icky bits).
I cannot tell you how surprised I was. Let's be honest, I read this because of that title which was too curiosity-inducing for me to pass up. I foresaw potential DNFs and eye rolls and cliched, stereotypical characters - I got none of that. I picked this book up, got drawn into the unfortunate but completely hysterical life of Ellie, and spent most of the time snorting with laughter (sexy is my middle name) at all the situations she found herself in.
So, I've said before that humour is subjective, and maybe you won't like this because of that... but, you know why this book is so damn funny? Because it's so damn true. From the stupidly ridiculous thoughts teen girls have about sex to the waxing/shaving nightmares (should I? how much? where exactly? hope I don't cut my VJ... oh fuck). It felt so relatable and refreshing in its honest, no holds barred depiction of everything young women worry about and obsess over. It is primarily funny fiction, but I swear some parts of this book would have been really useful to me if it had been around when I was a teen.
While the main story is about a 21-year-old virgin called Ellie, the book has a very sex-positive attitude. Or perhaps it would be better to say a sex-neutral attitude. Ellie is a virgin but her friends are sexually active. There is no slut-shaming or virgin-shaming (except originally by the MC herself and the story enables her to overcome this). The "message" behind the book is that society should be more open to talking about all the nitty gritty details of sex that you don't currently get from a sex-ed lesson in school. Teen girls worry and obsess about so much (I know from experience ^_^) and this could be avoided by talking about it more.
Very funny, very enjoyable book.
Here's a little sample for you after Ellie gets her first Brazilian wax:
Oh my fucking God. The wax hadn't all come off on the strips, and it was stuck on my skin along with knicker fluff. I rubbed at it frantically until I realized it had hardened and wasn't coming off. I needed to use some water, but it was a public bathroom. I couldn't just rub my vagina next to the sink, could I? Praying to God no one would walk in, I hobbled to the sink with my knickers and jeans halfway down my legs. I quickly started rubbing away at it with water and a runny pink soap I squirted from the plastic dispenser. The wax went gloopy when it was mixed with the hot water, and it spread across my skin. I had made it worse. Feeling panicky, I rubbed as hard as I could and then tried to peel it off. The sticky wax caught under my fingernails and I tried to scrape it off with loo roll, but the paper stuck to the skin on my hands and vagina. I looked at myself in the mirror, bent down with my legs spread open and my hand on my vagina, stuck there with wax and loo roll. This was not how I'd imagined the start of my first ever grown-up date. The door swung open and a middle-aged woman wearing a brown fur coat stood in the doorway, staring at me in disgust. My mouth dropped wide open and our eyes met in the mirror. There was a squeal and I looked down and saw the child next to her. "Mummy," he asked. "Why is that girl rubbing her front bottom?" The woman put her manicured hand over the little boy's eyes and spun him around. She looked at me with something close to revulsion and shook her head slowly. "You're disgusting," she hissed under her breath as she propelled her son out of the bathroom. I stared at myself in the mirror, wondering how this was my life. I could hear her hushing the boy outside: "Orlando, sweetie, are you feeling okay?" I snorted. Orlando was five years old and didn't have a vagina covered in dried wax. He was bloody fine. I, on the other hand, wanted to crawl into the loo cubicle and never leave.