A.B. Gayle's Reviews > Take My Picture

Take My Picture by Giselle Ellis
Rate this book
Clear rating

by
3050574
's review
Oct 10, 10

bookshelves: glbt-romance

It took me a while to work out why I didn’t like this book. At first I thought it was the juvenile behavior of the two protagonists or at least the childish way they spoke to each other, then I realized it was because this juvenile style didn’t match the narrative voice that linked all the dialogue together.

Sometimes, the sane, descriptive telling of what was happening was mirrored almost immediately by mismatching dialogue which demonstrated/showed what the narrative had just described.
Here’s an example of the “tell”:
All because the thought of Aaron traipsing across his fucking dump of a neighborhood in the middle of the night to work on his pots because Jake kept him too busy during the day sent a stab of fear and worry through his gut so intense that only the purchase of said wheel and kiln could alleviate it.

Shortly afterwards followed by the “show” of the same thing in the following dialogue:
“Do you know where he lives? And he’s skipping around like Pollyanna in the middle of the night to go make ashtrays and kitty statues, or whatever the fuck he makes. He’s going to get mugged or killed, for chrissake!”
This might have worked if the narrative had been in anyone’s head other than one of the two protagonists. In fact I’m not sure whose head half the narrative was in.
At times it almost felt like some God on Olympus was looking down at a couple of actors in a Shakespearean farce.

The book might have been brilliant if that had been the case, and this God had addressed the reader, telling the story of this crazy couple, interspersed by the actors showing it. The Alyson character could have even been a physical manifestation of this being who came down and interacted with each character as needed. But that's not what the author's written and I acknowledge that.
The way it was written, I felt I was dealing with two people suffering from a bad case of multiple personality disorder.
Then as the book progressed, their whacky juvenile dialogue became over the top deep and angsty. So I was thrown off the other end of the scale of disbelief.

Usually, if I don't like a book, I don't write a review about it. The old "If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all dictum". However in this case, I am, because to me, basic writing flaws which could have been fixed, detracted from the story.

This dichotomy of perceptive telling of what was going on in their lives and in their heads, interspersed by juvenile action or dialogue didn't cut it for me.
Here's another example:
He found Jake to be rather fragile beneath his gruff and highly irritating exterior. He was brilliant and amazing at what he did. He was strong and bold in his studio, in his world; but take him out of that world and he was uncertain, almost shy. Aaron could never understand how someone could be so in control of their world, their own little environment, but be so out of control in the bigger world.

These are meant to be the thoughts of Aaron, the same person who has dialogue like this:
“I thought he was the devil,” Aaron said, scrunching up his face in confusion. “Emotionally retarded assholes generally don’t start smoking after being doused with holy water. They usually start smoking after fucking some random guy, then kicking him out of bed before the condom comes off.”

Again if the inner thought had been by a seperate entity interpreting Aaron's behaviour and thoughts from up on high, it might have worked.

Structurally the start is confusing also as you have a prologue that jumps to five years in the future - ie the present - told from Aaron's point of view. This is followed by Chapter One.
Now you would expect this to follow on timewise, but it doesn't, it starts at the same time as the prologue then jumps forward only six months.
Again I have no problem with this concept. In fact I've used it myself in a story written long before this one. But it could have been done differently eg: "What Came Before - according to Aaron" and then "What Came Before - according to Jake".
Make the fact that we're seeing the same scene through two different eyes more obvious. Make it a feature.

I know a lot of my friends love this book, but I’m sorry I didn’t. Maybe I'm the Grinch that stole Christmas. At least it seems to be selling well, and that's the main thing. Isn't it?
8 likes · Likeflag

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read Take My Picture.
Sign In »

Comments (showing 1-11 of 11) (11 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by [deleted user] (last edited Oct 11, 2010 07:42PM) (new)

I agree that this book was frustrating, because the outstandingly good stuff (of which there was quite a bit) got buried in the clichés, the angsty melodrama, the overly self conscious silly banter. This needed some fairly viscious editing. Cutting down the introduction (the part 5 years before the rest of the story), toning down the melodrama (These guys are supposed to be in their late 20's and have known each other for 5 years and they are acting like High School kids!!) and ending the book at the point where Aaron and Jake say "I love you" would go a long way toward fixing the weaknesses.


message 2: by A.B. (last edited Oct 10, 2010 01:42PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

A.B. Gayle I totally agree Kate.
A lot of the narrative was unnecessary.
I appreciate what the author was trying to do and salute her for trying to do something different. She nearly pulled it off.


message 3: by ElaineY (new) - added it

ElaineY This book was highly rec'd to me by several people but I couldn't get into it. I can't recall why now, whether it was the characters or the writing style but after your post, Alison, I will take another look.

Not because I'm interested in the book (after what Kate just said) but because I don't get what you're saying about the writing. I would have to read it myself to see if I notice anything wrong because reading your post, I find nothing amiss.


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

ElaineY wrote: "This book was highly rec'd to me by several people but I couldn't get into it. I can't recall why now, whether it was the characters or the writing style but after your post, Alison, I will take an..."

Parts of this book are really good. The worst bit, IMO, is the introductory chapter. Also there is a sex scene at the end which felt odd to me because there was no sexuality at all in the rest of the story.


A.B. Gayle Fair enough, Elaine. I'll be interested to hear your thoughts afterwards.


message 6: by Alina (last edited Oct 12, 2010 08:39AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alina Very insightful review, Alison :) I didn't pay attention to these things at the time, but you're right...

Kate wrote: "Parts of this book are really good. The worst bit, IMO, is the introductory chapter. Also there is a sex scene at the end which felt odd to me because there was no sexuality at all in the rest of the story. "

I agree, the sex was completely unnecessary and there was lots of melodrama.

Although I did rate the book highly for all the fun banter :)


A.B. Gayle Maybe I need to have a couple of drinks and loosen up a bit, but the fun banter didn't sound like guys to me. Sounded more like thirteen year old girls.
Sort of like "Dumb and Dumber" meets "Brokeback Mountain".


message 8: by [deleted user] (new)

A.B. wrote: "Maybe I need to have a couple of drinks and loosen up a bit, but the fun banter didn't sound like guys to me. Sounded more like thirteen year old girls.
Sort of like "Dumb and Dumber" meets "Brokeb..."


The banter felt too self conscious to me. As if the author was trying too hard to be kind of outre and clever at the same time. Yes, it sounded like very young teenagers trying to one-up each other rather than two witty young men going at it.


message 9: by Alina (last edited Oct 12, 2010 12:08PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Alina :D

*thinking back on whether there were any drinks involved the evening I read this*

:D


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Drinks, drinks, drinks! How could I have overlooked such a critical step??! LOL.


message 11: by ElaineY (new) - added it

ElaineY I checked my comment box to see if I could figure out why it went into my 'mission-aborted' shelf and I do recall, albeit vaguely, that I had the same reaction as Kate - a couple of silly schoolgirls getting together.

I've changed my mind about giving it another try, I'm afraid. Too many books with potential on my TBR...


back to top