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318 pages, Paperback
First published June 6, 2016
Warnings about this book: Alcoholism, non-explicit sexual content, men in relationships flirting with single women, single women flirting with men in relationships, stalker jokes, xenophobic stereotypes, Romani stereotypes, fatphobia, the g-slur (used in place of Romani), the main character pees on the floor at a point
Overall Feelings: I thought I could push past this book, but I honestly can't manage it. I DNF'ed it at 50%. It had everything I wanted, hypothetically- a time travel/time parallel plot, multiple main female characters, set in Britain... Anything a girl could want, really. The thing is, as far as content goes, this book falls tragically short. Long, droning sentences that don't carry much meaning and important events happening off stage instead of in the focus, I couldn't force myself to finish it. With characters that seem like hollow versions of real people and stereotypes based off of nationality and age (and a striking lack of people of color, outside of one racist depiction of a Romani woman), this book seemed nearly hostile as far as reading it went.
Full Review: Right off the bat, I knew something was going sour in this book. My very first status update was about how dry and boring the 19th century entries were. I don't use the phrase 'purple prose' often, but that's all I can use to describe this writing style. As an hobby-writer, I honestly can't imagine forcing my readers to read meaningless paragraphs about the main characters hygiene for damn near thirty percent of the book. One of the biggest issues with this book is that all of the action takes place off-screen, or even before the book starts. We're dropped in the middle of Margot's apparently volatile breakup with her boyfriend- for it to later be revealed (through multiple, poorly handled flashbacks that seems more like hallucinations) that the breakup really wasn't that bad. Her and her friends Derek and... honestly, I can't remember the girl friend's name (I literally forgot both of their names constantly, because of their little relevance to the plot) had such an unbelievable friendship that I couldn't even believe that they were friends. Like, ever. You ever read a book where the characters only seem to like each other because the author wrote it that way, even though they fight all the time and have no similar interests? Yeah, this book is exactly like that.
At a point, I literally wondered if I had been dropped into a sequel- this doesn't feel like a complete book. I'm missing context for half of the actions Margot takes- her sudden inclination towards alcoholism being one of them, out of seemingly nothing.
Also, can I just say how tired I am of the 'lazy millennial' stereotype? When the narrative is shaming its own main character because of her age, you know the author's bias is included, and that you're practically reading the author speaking, not the character. "Margot was a product of her generation, fair to say. One that didn't have to follow traditional gender roles or win any little league games to still get a trophy." This was the first time I wanted to drop the book. It would not be the last.
There's a lot of weird xenophobia in this book, as well as this highly praised idea of what British people really are. To begin with, every British person is super polite and accommodating in this book. Which is something that immediately turns me off because Brits are really not known for their sparkling manners- they're distant and polite, not homely and close. (As an aside, her interactions with Rand were so strange to me- the way he worked around her every need was definitely uncomfortable, and the implication that they'd known each other only briefly a long time ago was even stranger.) Onto the French in this book, ya rab. Firstly, Chloe is seen as, like, this epitome of the gentle, ballerina-esque French woman, who is occasionally distant, sure, but mostly because she doesn't understand American customs (insert that weird 'mwaha' the author used to symbolize laughing). Despite the fact that she's studying, in English, in England, she can't grasp basic English sentence structure, leading to train wrecks like "Please do not feel under obligation". On top of that, as someone who speaks French, a lot of the French came off as weird and counter-intuitive ("C'est bien bon", anyone?). She would say something in French that's easily understood in English ('pas du tout', for example, is easily understood in the context) and then immediately translate. Also, she said 'mon Dieu' once in a weird way, but I only marked that saying 'zut' would've made, well, a lot more sense. Xenophobia in regards to Americans, calling them fat, saying they "eat six meals" and are Really Fat.
Did no one inform the author that the French eat a six course lunch? Seems like a failure in research.
Something else that made me uncomfortable is the sexual framing of Rand and Margot's relationship, even though he's in a relationship with Gwen (who Margot has never met). Like, she's always checking him out, he jokes around and grinds on her at a point, and they openly flirt with on another. At a point, Chloe even says that married men aren't really off the menu, which had me make gagging sounds. It definitely sounds like the set up of a bad erotica, which had me even more wary. Nothing comes about, but Margot is continuously spiteful towards Gwen (who isn't even there) because she's in a relationship with Rand. Talk about entitlement.
Margot was by no means likeable, either. On top of the fact that her narrative was about as colorful as the desert, she does things like . In fact, she comes off as a less-likeable Bella Swan. Which says something about her fascination and romanticization of the classics, her ability to ignore reality in favor of what she wants to do, and her constant seeking out of the paranormal. Honestly, after every time something even slightly weird happens she cries 'ghost!'. Another thing she does that I find annoying? The whole white person 'my eyes change color depending on lighting and my mood' thing. That was another time I nearly dropped this book. It was such a juvenile thing to read that I was baffled by the fact that this is sorted under Adult fiction.
More stuff that just bothered me:
* Gwen being a topic of conversation, but not a real person
* The main character and Rand cleaning it up. There are Limits and the author crossed em.
* "A knot had loosened in her breast, though."
* "The one who spilled it was Margot, right onto the carpeting between her bare feet.
Margot didn't poke fun at Gwen. Partly because 'taking the piss', as the Brits said, would have been outrageously hypocritical on both literal and figurative levels at the moment.""