rameau's Reviews > Emerald City

Emerald City by Alicia K. Leppert
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Twenty-year-old Olivia is depressed. Her father abandoned Olivia and her mother for his other family, and her mother abandoned when she moved out to get an education. She endures life poorly, social connection worse, and work with a fake smile plastered on her face.

Then one night, when the nightmares have robbed her of her sleep and she just wants to rest for a while, she downs a bottle of valium and lets go.

Except, she doesn't.

Olivia wakes up in a hospital to find out that a mysterious neighbour has saved her life and lied to the doctors about her intentions. She finds out that his name is Jude and that he has been spying her through the window from the opposite building. Or has he?

In the seconds that followed, I became disconnected from the scene.


That sums succinctly my problem with this book.

First of all, it's a good example on how this story is told as opposed to shown. Instead of using language that is active and gripping, Leppert manages to find the exact opposite way of saying everything. It's like a mother bird regurgitating a ready chewed meal to her chicks to eat. This author doesn't trust her readers to infer from context or dialogue what exactly is going on in Olivia's head.

Or in his. Jude's third person limited voice is mixed with Olivia's first person limited, and it's not done well enough to justify it. Please, if you want to write in first person stick with it. Deal with the limitations first person limited sets and don't start adding multiple voices or other points of view written in third (or second) person. Or, alternatively, if you're going to mix, then at least do it well. This is a huge pet peeve of mine, but I've made exceptions. Most recently, Glow comes to mind. This however is not it.

The handling of Olivia's attempted suicide was utterly disappointing. At first, it was a positive surprise to see her seeking for professional help, but as the story progressed, it became clear that her psychiatrist's main function was to give Olivia someone to talk about Jude. Later on, the therapist was replaced by a random co-worker and a random high school bestie reconnected.

The focus on the relationship (I refuse to call it a romance) wouldn't have been as aggravating had I found it compelling. It was tepid at best and riddled with disease of insta twu wuv. I didn't buy their declarations of love nor did I understood (view spoiler). The only explanation given in the book was superficial at best. Also (view spoiler).

Then there's the plot. Or more accurately: What plot? There was none that I could detect. Maybe a smattering towards the end resembled something plottish, but it was over before I could muster the excitement. I do prefer my books and stories to be on the plottish side, but there's nothing wrong with character driven introspective stories either. Except. Well, read on.

Secondly the quote describes perfectly my connection to book and its characters. For a someone whose voice I should be intimately acquainted with after spending three hundred pages with her, I don't have a clue who Olivia really is. Neither do I feel like I know or care about Jude, whose story I think would have made a better book than Olivias's.

Which brings me to my first status update for this book:

It reads like a fanfiction.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, because I quite like reading fanfiction. It's just that I prefer my books and original fiction, well, original.

At first it was just a handful of details that alerted me along with the writing style, but as the list grew I kept thinking: Was this a Twilight fanfiction? I asked around, and so far the answer is a resonant no.

Unfortunately that doesn't remove the similarities I saw:
- The book is set in Seattle.
- Olivia's parents are absent.
- She has self-destructive tendencies.
- Jude stalks observes Olivia unbeknownst to her.
- She confronts him of his lie in a restaurant.
- He's (view spoiler)
- They trust each other too easily with the kind of sensitive information both are hiding.
- (view spoiler)
- (view spoiler)

There are others, but my notes are sketchier. The point is that, if I can easily replace (in my head) the names of your characters with other well known character names and not notice the difference, your characterisation seriously sucks. What's worse, I think I would have enjoyed this story more had I been reading an honest Bella and Edward Twilight fanfic, and I hate reading fics about Bella and Edward.


I received an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.
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Reading Progress

04/09/2012
13.0% "So far this reads like a fanfic. I'm suspicious."
04/10/2012
38.0% "*facepalm*"
04/10/2012
50.0% "Because spoiler tags don't work in status updates: Is that *spoiler* *spoiler* troll I see lurking?"
04/10/2012
55.0% "It wasn't the *spoiler* troll, it was the one I thought of earlier and decided not to add to a status update."
04/11/2012
69.0% ""Turns out he's a really sweet guy, and he loves to buy me things, which is always a bonus." What a horrible spoiled brat." 6 comments

Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Christina (Reading Thru The Night) I have this downloaded and waiting for me after I finish my other books. Now am fled with trepidation because of fanfic mention. Urgh.


rameau Christina (Reading Thru The Night) wrote: "I have this downloaded and waiting for me after I finish my other books. Now am fled with trepidation because of fanfic mention. Urgh."

I asked, but so far no one admits knowing that this was a fanfic or an original fic written by a fanfic author.

The thing is, if this didn't read like a fanfic (her first person limited switching with his third person limited, info dumps, assumed characterisations, insta connection etc.) I wouldn't have started making a list of all the things in this book that remind me of Twilight. The list is growing fast.

I could be overreacting, but I'd really like a confirmation.


Alicia (is beyond tired of your *ish) Instead of using language that is active and gripping, Leppert manages to find the exact opposite way of saying everything. It's like a mother bird regurgitating a ready chewed meal to her chicks to eat. This author doesn't trust her readers to infer from context or dialogue what exactly is going on in Olivia's head.

I love that paragraph so much. Gross analogy, but quite apt.


message 4: by Helen (new)

Helen It doesn't have to be a Twilight fanfic. I think Twilight fans would have tracked it down by now. The same tropes are often used in PNR.

It could be that author was "inspired" by Twilight, but it doesn't mean it had to have been a fanfic first.


rameau Helen wrote: "It doesn't have to be a Twilight fanfic. I think Twilight fans would have tracked it down by now. The same tropes are often used in PNR.

It could be that author was "inspired" by Twilight, but it ..."


No, it doesn't. But I've been burned by too many pulled to publish fics and even without those I would have been comparing this to a Twilight shuffle.


message 6: by Helen (new)

Helen rameau wrote: "No, it doesn't. But I've been burned by too many pulled to publish fics and even without those I would have been comparing this to a Twilight shuffle. "

Understandable. I find myself being a bit paranoid nowadays too - though in my case it was caused by fanfiction plagiarism. I even suspected Gabaldon of borrowing the idea of time travel in order to shack up with a Highlander hunk from another novel I read long ago, until I realised that there is sort of "Highlander romance" subgenre.

The fact that this whole slew of novels of this kind is riding on the coattails of success of novels like Twilight and Vampire Diaries (and maybe Anita Blake) is probably not helping.


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