Read: 12th July 2017 – 14th July 2017
Spoilers in review: Minor
It appears that Lauren Oliver and I just don’t get along.
This is the third book by her that I’ve read, and they’ve all had cool-sounding premises that ended up being underwhelming.
But I did have a few specific things that I didn’t like about this book. Firstly, I don’t think that Oliver knows much about how bullying works. Because the bullying suffered by Gemma in the early chapters was very stereotypical and absolutely nothing like the reality that many real-life bullying victims go through. I’m getting very sick of seeing the same thing over and over.
Also, Gemma is just as bad?? Calling somebody nasty names just because everyone else was doing it?? Not cool. And she also engaged in ‘girl hate’ which I did not appreciate. I got major not-like-other-girls vibes from Gemma.
If the narration has to halt after waxing lyrical about how amazing someone finds their best friend just to assure the reader that she’s not gay, then clearly a rewrite is in order. Or just make her gay. It’s not that hard.
Slurs should only be used by characters who are A: assholes who are clearly shown to be such (even this is questionable), or B: a part of the group it describes who are using it in a reclaiming context. No other times. Not even during an internal monologue. No exceptions.
I lost count of the amount of times that a sentence didn’t make sense because there was either a word missing or a random extra word in the middle of it. Also jarring was when Jake was introduced. The narration refers to him by name once, before switching back to ‘the boy’ for another half a page until he actually introduces himself. This had the effect of making Gemma seem suddenly psychic, but only for a second before she forgot what she’d learnt. This could have been forgiven if I was reading a proof copy or an arc. But I was not. I was reading a properly published copy that I paid full price for. You’d think with the dual-narrative format this would have been more closely edited? Apparently not. I have never come across so many mistakes in a published work.
Lyra and 72 were flat characters. Their lines were often so contrived that I when I try to picture them I can only really think of life-seized puppets that aren’t able of actually doing, saying, or thinking anything for themselves. I could not get invested at all. This wasn’t a problem in the first few Lyra chapters, but once they got out of Haven it was like she didn’t exist anymore. Gemma, Jake, and Pete were much better developed.
Romance why??? Completely unnecessary. Also, seeing as apparently girls and boys must be attracted to each other no matter what and absolutely cannot just be platonic friends, a love triangle almost happened. Almost. To be honest, even though that would have sucked as well, they way that it played out here seemed way too convenient. I would have minded the romances less if they weren’t the same kind of romances that you see all the time. On a related note, Lyra did not hesitate to call Gemma beautiful throughout the entire novel, and Gemma had to have the previously mentioned she’s-not-gay narration halt because she was so clearly in love with her best friend. I’m mentally rewriting this now, and it could have been so good.
In summary, I was deeply disappointed, but not exactly surprised by any of my problems. Except for the blatant lack of editing. That was pretty surprising. I have no intention of reading the sequel.
Review originally written in 2017