Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Verdict, No. 7

 Well, I got what I paid for.

Books are just becoming more and more disappointing. Really, though, it was exactly what it said it would be: a love story. With a love triangle gone haywire. I just didn't expect it to be so…uneventful.

I was pretty much dead-on with the judgment (about the love square with a best friend, old boyfriend, and the bad boy) and that made me feel good about myself. But I quickly discovered there was no real plot to follow. It was just a classic story of girl-breaks-head, girl-meets-boy, girl-meets-other-boy, girl-meets-another-boy, girl-chooses-boy, girl-chooses-wrong-boy, girl-chooses-right-boy. Predictable? Definitely. Believable? Sometimes. Entertaining? Not exactly.

The best I can say is that Gabrielle Zevin definitely knew her protagonist. As a character, she made sense. Most of the time. And I loved the best friend. I was laughing out loud in the beginning over his goofy antics and his and the protagonist’s natural back and forth. In fact, I could believe everything about the main character and the sidekick best friend. It was the bad boy new guy that threw me off. The major emotional baggage he carried—didn’t see that one coming. And her original boyfriend felt very flat, dry, dull, irksome. He was just there to be there. Some sort of tie to her past. But that’s just it: her past was the part of her that didn’t make sense. The version of her hinted at in the beginning, before she lost her memory—the calorie counter happy to be popular—didn’t make since in the new-self context. And it was never explained. Plus the popular/shallow side versus the yearbook/dorkie side versus the damaged/mysterious side was never really explained or pulled together in any way. She was just who she was according to who she was with. And that is what eventually…well, ruined the story.

The first half of the novel was definitely better than the second. The second dragged with the weight of all this lovey-dovey, daddy issues stuff. As a teen romance dramedy, it went off the beaten path. Which could have paid off, but here the whole piece just floundered. Halfway through, I was no longer excited by the will-they-won’t-they. It was obvious who she would end up with—who she should end up with—but who’d she’d choose first. But I can usually put up with predictable fiction, only here there was no pay off. No point in caring, no point in remaining attached. There was no reason to her rhyme, so the say. The story fizzled, the plot arch disappeared, and all there was was a girl fighting the inevitable in a dull sort of way. It wasn't necessarily bad, it just wasn't that good.

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