Giselle's Reviews > Semi-Charmed Life

Semi-Charmed Life by Nora Zelevansky
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Aug 16, 12

bookshelves: own, arc, contemporary
Read from August 13 to 14, 2012

What started out as adventurous and New York chic, this quickly turned into a bizarre magical contemporary. When you include an overwhelming quantity of references that went way over my head, Semi-Charmed Life ended up being an exceptionally tedious and confusing read.

I absolutely adore New York City. I visited a year ago and I was dazzled by the lifestyle and how it seems to be in its own world. Since, I've come to love books set in the Big Apple. I can revive the energy I felt walking the streets, hear the strangely refreshing noise of people living lives like no other, re-experience the city that never sleeps. It's what compelled me to initially pick this book up, and I was especially pleased with how much the NYC setting came alive. Hence, at the beginning I was actually quite enchanted by it all, staying convinced that I was truly going to enjoy it.

Then... strange writing in her notebook starts to appear and disappear. (What is this book supposed to be? O_O). Then, constant parties with extreme detailing keeps putting me to sleep. Then, talk of tatamis, and beef negimaki, and rogan gosh, and ryokan, and Mark Rothko, and caipirinhas, and remarks that go like: "[...] preach-to-the-choir debates about neo-postmodernism in a postmodern age or the revival of modernism in an antimodernist millenium or ever Fairway belly lox versus Zabar's nova" …*blinks*… Dude! What am I reading here? I so did not go to Harvard! Name dropping after name dropping, reference after reference; nothing from my generation, and definitely not things a simple small-town Canadian girl in her 20s would know of. Since they would come in bursts I kept hoping it was just to give a feel of NYC, where people can be more elite and talk about fried sopaipillas and Proust studies, unfortunately it never let up and halted my enjoyment of this novel exponentially.

Another big factor in my displeasure of this novel is the writing style the author adopted. Written in a third person omniscient point of view, it's extremely hard to get a feel of who the characters truly are. It's not a perspective I have ever really enjoyed as it keeps the characters' thoughts and the emotions of the story at arm's length, detached. Think of it like someone who is telling someone else's story, not letting it be an experience. This is purely a factor of individual taste, some readers may really like this type of telling, but I, for one, am unable to get captured by a story told in this manner.

What starts as a contemporary read suddenly turns on the strange side when mysterious messages start to appear, and simple lofts suddenly become luxurious first class accommodations. I was not expecting anything supernatural from this novel. It caught me off guard and I'm not convinced it really fits in the story. It may give it a magical flair, but it remains off-putting. It's like Gossip Girl meets the Encyclopedia, meets cameos of Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

There is one positive thing I can mention about this book: The characters are fabulous. Regardless of being kept at arm's length, I enjoyed the personalities that run through these pages with their exotic natures. There are a lot of names to keep track of, but the ones that are prominent have made this enjoyable enough that, despite having so much trouble getting through the story, I never quit, though at times I really wanted to.

With that said, I think this book calls for a certain readership. An older generation who loves perpetual references and an over the top lavish lifestyle (and vocabulary) may just be the perfect audience for this novel.

--
An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
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Reading Progress

08/13/2012
36.0% "Whoa this book is weeeeiiird!!" 4 comments

Comments (showing 1-24 of 24) (24 new)

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message 1: by Alba (new)

Alba  BookPics why?? what is it about.??


Giselle I've been discussing it here http://www.goodreads.com/user_status/...

:)


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

LOL I think I'm gonna love this one, Giselle. This may be the first one you and I disagree on. BUT. Your review makes me want to read it. So for those people that say neg. reviews don't sell books? HAH. Bullshit. When does this sucker come out? Oooh, it's out already. *goes to download a sample*


Giselle Oh you should!! I would be honestly curious to see how you like it, Kara!


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I read part of the sample. I think I will like it. I added it to my wishlist. I am always looking for mindless, fun reads. If it gets annoying like you said later in the book though, I'm screwed.


Giselle Yeah, all those references in my review were in the first couple of chapters. I had NO idea what she was talking about O_O Maybe you're smarter than me. I need to Google more.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

I kinda love pop culture references. And then you mentioned a lot of Japanese stuff and I'm all over that too. So I'll try it.


message 8: by Renae (Respiring Thoughts) (last edited Aug 15, 2012 08:30PM) (new)

Renae (Respiring Thoughts) "[...] preach-to-the-choir debates about neo-postmodernism in a postmodern age or the revival of modernism in an antimodernist millenium or ever Fairway belly lox versus Zabar's nova"

OMG, whoa. I feel like that might be a little heavy for YA. I mean, the intended audience is teens without degrees, right? Haha, that's a lot to take in.


Giselle Renae wrote: ""[...] preach-to-the-choir debates about neo-postmodernism in a postmodern age or the revival of modernism in an antimodernist millenium or ever Fairway belly lox versus Zabar's nova"

OMG, whoa. ..."


I'm not actually sure it's listed as YA. It was pitched by the publisher as "Gossip girl meets The Roommate" so I assumed it would be. There's no sex or very adult themes except for a lot of drinking and partying, but the characters are in college - early 20s - and the writing and references are definitely more for an older audience.


Renae (Respiring Thoughts) Giselle wrote: I'm not actually sure it's listed as YA. It was pitched by the publisher as "Gossip girl meets The Roommate" so I assumed it would be. There's no sex or very adult themes except for a lot of drinking and partying, but the characters are in college - early 20s - and the writing and references are definitely more for an older audience.

Oooh, hmm. From the synopsis I'd assumed it was YA, so that's interesting. Hmm. I guess the references are a bit more appropriate, then. ;)


message 11: by Giselle (last edited Aug 15, 2012 08:52PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Giselle @Kara: You might like this, then. I enjoy pop culture references, but not SO MANY. Like this had a ridiculous amount. And a lot were from 4 generations ago. The Japanese stuff, no dice! >.<

@Renae: I think it could be considered New Adult which is a new genre that's being seen more where it's college age. So it's still a YA feel but more mature. The synopsis and Gossip Girl comparison from the pub does make it sound like it would be lighter.


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

*shakes fist* Japanese culture is bad-ass!


Giselle I couldn't tell you. Like... Pokemon? Or is it Sailor Moon? I know Hiro Nakamura!! And he's pretty fucking cool!


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Not just cartoons! Architecture, literature, fashion, food, all sorts of stuff!

Hiro Nakamura is pretty fucking cool though.


Giselle Yeah you're a much more culture oriented person than me you'll probably appreciate this a lot more. We Canadians live in igloos we don't know what's out in he real world. I'm not a fan of big words either. Ha.


Giselle Also, It's nearly 2am here. Probably not a good time to leave public comments O_O


message 17: by [deleted user] (new)

LOL shut up. I know you do not live in an igloo.


message 18: by [deleted user] (new)

Why not? Are we not supposed to comment after a certain time? *confused*


Giselle Kara wrote: "Why not? Are we not supposed to comment after a certain time? *confused*"

I usually stop making sense after midnight >.<


message 20: by Juhina (new)

Juhina wow, that sentence you got out of the book about the modernism bit was O_o


message 21: by Tzippy (new)

Tzippy The lox vs nova thing is comparing different brands/types of lox (smoked salmon). New Yorkers eat a lot of lox :)


Giselle @Tzippy: Oh! Haha. Good to know!

@Juhina: And all those references I mentioned and that sentence were taken from the first chapter or 2!


message 23: by Maggie (new) - added it

Maggie LMAO Giselle! Great review. Does getting all those references make me the target audience... or just a pretentious asshole? Hahaha.


Giselle Maggie wrote: "LMAO Giselle! Great review. Does getting all those references make me the target audience... or just a pretentious asshole? Hahaha."

HA!!! I will let you make that call! :P


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