by Ann Brashares
(Just to prevent my brain lapse about monthly book blogging for June, I'll just take care of this nice and early in the month.)
As you can see, I'm not totally a classic book snob or a Michael Pollen-esque book snob. I actually do read pop fiction once in a while. By here's the reason that I don't more often--I don't know these authors! Unless something has been recommended to me or unless I happen to stumble upon one, odds are that I haven't read it. This is kind of why I don't think that I would really use a Kindle, though I want one enough to consider it. I just don't buy books all that often unless I have to for a class, and I don't read much pop fiction.
And this book proved why I shy away from such reading. Here's my analogy. I used to like Hershey's chocolate. It was good stuff and the best of the Halloween candy when I was a kid. Chocolate was chocolate, and I enjoyed it all. But then I discovered Lindt. And Ghiradelli's. and Valhrona. And Scharffen Berg. Hershey's will never be "good" again. It's not even acceptable. It's in-a-desperate-situation-only kind of chocolate for me. It just doesn't taste that good to me anymore once I've experienced quality chocolate. This book is definitely Hershey's. But at least it is the dark chocolate Hershey's. If it was milk chocolate, I wouldn't have gotten very far in it.
The diaglogue was contrived and often saccharine sweet, cloying even. Give me books where the dialogue is seemless and plot is seemless rather than forced. GIve me one or two dominant themes upon which the protagonist's character is developed rather than a jumble of disjointedness. Furthermore, give me characters who mean something. It's like profanity and adult content--there's a time and a place. Make it purposeful about the message of the text, not gratuitous.
So if it sounds like I'm slamming this book...I am. I probably wouldn't have been so harsh about it except for one unforgivable flaw. I mean, seriously unforgivable. The books just stopped. It wasn't even a cliffhanger ending or an ambiguous, choose-your-own-adventure, The Giver style ending. No. It just stopped. It wasn't just one story line that ended, it was allll of the storylines. What??? Oh, and it's really similar to The Time Traveler's Wife, though I haven't taken the 2 seconds to see which was written first. (I think that TTTW was because Brashare's book references 2009, and the aforementioned book had the weird but decent movie that came out sometime around 2009.)
In a nutshell, not too original. Forced dialogue. Typical characters. Unrealistic emotions & situations. The worst ending that I think I've ever read. But, quick read and entertaining enough to keep going.
Ann Brashares: You did much better with your breakout novel, The Last Summer of Me (and You). You had moments in that one that kind of got overlooked because it was a pretty decent message. But your writing has some serious flaw-age. Fix it. And don't take another author's idea; that's not appreciated.