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)[why Jude chose to fall for her (hide spoiler)]
. The only explanation given in the book was superficial at best. Also (view spoiler)[what kind of angel doesn't have wings? Angel lite? Ugh, no thanks for me (hide 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.
observes Olivia unbeknownst to her.
- She confronts him of his lie in a restaurant.
- He's (view spoiler)[a supernatural creature. (hide spoiler)]
- They trust each other too easily with the kind of sensitive information both are hiding.
- (view spoiler)[There's a painful transformation. (hide spoiler)]
- (view spoiler)[There's a discussion about waiting to have sex. (hide 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.