Olivia's Reviews > 96 Words for Love

96 Words for Love by Rachel  Roy
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did not like it

2/28/2019 UPDATE:
HEY WHAT'S UP YOU GUYS, YES! *hand clap*
THIS BOOK SINGLEHANDEDLY BROUGHT BACK THE JO-BROS WITH ALL ITS FREE PROMOTION. OR I was right from the beginning and the Jonas Brothers paid for the advertisement. It's like, subliminal, y'all.


This is petty, but what the hay? Raya dissed on Almond Joy and LOVES Coldplay. For that, she is my enemy.
Nah, but genuinely:

Maybe I could've tolerated this book more if I hadn't just read another book ( The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali) that is set in India and features family relations and a "forbidden" love. The book prior was superb. This was not. This was a book I only finished due to obligation. I'm not saying it's the worst book ever. I think some people could like it. For instance: People that don't normally read, people who are merely looking to check off a Diversity Bingo square for a book that takes place outside of America; with absolutely no want or care to learn about another land and culture. So, ya know, there's that I guess. I just found this to be extremely disappointing and lackluster. There is absolutely nothing special about this.

This story had so much potential. I thought I'd absolutely love this, I had it on my TBR shelf for months! What was given was not what had been promised.

-A book that seemed to promise depth and heart, was superficial and hollow.

-A book that promised culture and rich landscapes had next to none. If it weren't for the fact that Raya constantly mentioned being in India,I would have figured we were still in California. The extent of describing her surroundings? A billboard in Sanskrit,women in sari's, statues of Hindu gods, terrifying roads, one street vendor, and Ghandi's cremation place. Throughout the entire book, that's all we get. I think that is positively ridiculous. I may be pushing it, but I'd border on saying it's unforgivable--- to just overlook the scenery, to ignore the culture.
-Also! Everyone in India --- in this remote village, speaks perfect English. All the time. No one speaks Hindi or any other language, apparently. This bothers me a lot. A LOT. In other books that take place where English is not the first language, we normally get everything in English, but with certain words that are specific to their native language thrown in as a bare minimum, I don't see why they didn't do that here. In my mind, that is literally the bare freaking minimum you can do.

-This book is inspired by a famous Indian legend called Shakuntala and Dushyanta. I'm not familiar with this tale, though it is roughly summarized in the book. It's a story that has been passed on for centuries, it serves a place in their culture. This book does not live up to the monument that that story must be to have survived all these years. I feel that whatever it is that made that tale so unique, so timeless --- it's only been commercialized to and for a(n) Western/ American audience. What remains of the legend in here is what I would describe as a muddy paint-by-numbers replication by someone with poor eyesight and misplaced reading glasses.

-The characters are flat. One dimensional. Every single one of them. Each had one trademark and that was all they were aloud to be. A pretty boy, an offensive Brit, a Nick Jonas obsessed cousin (seriously, I think Nick Jonas sponsored this or something), a wise and mysterious woman. And then Raya. Raya is clueless. Not because she doesn't know what she wants to pursue as a career, but in every other aspect imaginable. This book relies solely on her being an idiot.
Seriously, she makes a big deal out of everything, turns the most obvious things into stupid "mysteries" and when she "solves" them, I, as a reader, made this face:

-Honestly, I made that face a lot. Because clever, Raya is not. I feel like the authors were desperate to fill space and so they just threw everything and hoped something would land. Pacing? We don't know her. "What can we do to meet our page quota?" Mystery? A love complication? Family drama? A disappearance? Surely something has to stick! Uh...
-Non-problems are made into HUGE problems and HUGE problems are treated as non-problems. I can't go into specifics, but it's ridiculous. Disgusting, even!

-There were many a attempt at jokes throughout. Somehow, none of those stuck either. And I thought (trying to be kind and all ((I promise I'm generally nice!))) "Perhaps the hilarity of these moments are ""You had to have been there"" moments." (Yes, I'm the person that starts sentences with the word "perhaps".) But... THAT'S EVEN WORSE, if that is the case! It's the authors job to make you feel a part of that moment, as though you were really there. To fail at that is just... well, it ain't great.

Also, let us talk about the Jonas Brothers for just a minute. I understand it's 2019 but Dash and Roy started this.
Okay, so Raya is 17/18. Presumably the year this takes place during is 2018. She said she was obsessed with the Jo-Bros back when they were big when she was still in middle school, there were mentions of her sharing their first ever album with her cousin when she was 12. Now, I am 18. I was a Jonas fan, I think we all were, secretly. I was a Jonas Brothers fan when they first hit the scene in 2006. 2007-08 is when they got real popular. If Raya was a fan of them from the very beginning of their career, or at the least, at the height of it (and as she is a music fan/ reviewer, all signs indicate she would've), then something isn't adding up to her being obsessed with them when she was 12 (presumably in either 2012/2013) as they practically dropped off in 2010/2011. They wouldn't have been huge when she was in middle school. Their first album came out long before she would've been 12.
I don't know guys, it's 3:23AM and I am too invested in this thing that doesn't seem to add up. There is red yarn everywhere. I'm being strangled by it. S.O.S.
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Reading Progress

September 8, 2018 – Shelved
September 8, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
January 9, 2019 – Started Reading
January 9, 2019 –
page 112
35.0% "Gotta be honest, really not loving this. I can't relate to Raya in any way at all. That would be okay if she were at the very least interesting, but she's not. An interesting premise that should be dripping with rich culture is, so far: bland, boring, generic, and just not not very good. I can't stop checking how many pages I have left in a chapter, that's how bad I want it to be finished. Still holding out hope."
January 10, 2019 –
page 219
68.44% "I've spent an eternity getting to this point in the book. Wrap it up! It's not improving at all! End it! There's simply nothing here but unfulfilled potential. Harsh? Yeah. But I stand by it. Even if the end is by some miracle spectacular, I've suffered too much to give it anything above 2 stars. I'd have abandoned ship long ago if I could've."
January 10, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Myron Brown I also read this book simultaneously with The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali and while I liked this book somewhat better than you did, Rukhsana Ali was superior in every aspect.


Katie Bahaha, I was so offended when she hated on almond joy.


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