Showing posts with label mean best friend. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mean best friend. Show all posts

Saturday, May 2, 2015

[Review] Just Listen - Sarah Dessen

In "Just Listen" by Sarah Dessen, Annabel Greene gets excluded from her group of friends. There's a secret that she desperately wants to keep from everybody, even if that means that she's going to have to shut off all her friends and family.

Excessive Use of Flashbacks: Yay or Nay?

I couldn't quite get into this one. Dessen has a way of writing that I'm not very fond of. She uses a lot of flashbacks to establish her characters and familiarize the reader with them. At times I got lost in those flashbacks and didn't even know anymore what the present tense storyline is about. When you've got so much background story information dump, it's very easy to lose motivation. I had rather have her add the character development to the present stroyline instead of rambling on and on about past events. I get that it's necessary and I think that the information is absolutely vital to the plot, but still, come on, no flashbacks!

Essentially because Dessen's writing is centered around Annabel's family in the beginning, her sisters Whitney and Kirsten, instead of around her, I kind of forgot who the main character was. It felt like the protagonist was Whitney with her eating disorder instead of Annabel. Another thing that bugged me intensly is how broken her family is. Everybody has issues, everybody has some kind of mental illness and a dramatic backstory explaining it. It's just too much. You can't do it all justice in one novel if you mash things together and hardly even deal with them. (Writing 2/5)

Teenagers Don't Act Like This

What bugged me intensely is how grown-up the main characters Owen and Annabel are acting. Teenagers that age are moody, irreponsible and don't care much about anything besides themselves. It's not a cliche, if you know people that age, you know it's true. You might want to argue: Not all of them are like this- but making the two main characters be so ridiculously compassionate, understanding and grown-up just made me shake my head. Annabel's family is falling apart and she is too, yet she's so selflessly doing everything to make everyone happy. There are no rash decisions, no teenage tantrums, nothing. The only times teenagers in the novel act up is due to some kind of mental issue or due to being the antagonists.

Especially with Owen I straight up had the feeling that Dessen was talking through him like a puppet. He sounds nothing like a teenage boy. Having obscure interests is one thing, but making him this sort of super precocious and at the same time wiser than his years kind of guy doesn't make him attractive as a love interest, it just makes me roll my eyes. The majority of people twice his age I know aren't as grown-up as him and it's just not a flattering personality trait if you want your audience to like him. In general I think the novel would have worked so, so, so, so much better with twenty-something main characters instead of pretentious sixteen year olds.

Still, I can't deny that Dessen's characters are well thought out. You can clearly see that she put thought into building them, but it's just over the top to me. I couldn't really like anyone in the novel and if you don't empathize with the characters, it's hard to have fun reading. It took me forever to finish this novel for that exact reason. (Characters 3/5)

The Story is Going Nowhere

While we do have these insanely planned.out characters with their dramatic backstories, there is no clear plot line. There's no way to tell what exactly this novel is about. First there's a bunch of flashbacks, then it flips back to the past and then we go back to flashbacks again. You feel like a ping-pong ball reading this. If you've paid attention at least a bit, you can tell from page three on that this is a novel about rape. It's absolutely clear what happened that led to Annabel and Sophie not being friends anymore and the evolving friendship between Owen and Annabel is just extremely boring and unrealistic. (Plot 2/5)




Overall: Do I Recommend?

I'm disappointed with Sarah Dessen's writing. It's the first novel of hers that I've read and it's certainly going to be the last. I had to force myself to continue reading and absolutely didn't enjoy it at all. The characters are well thought out and the writing is alright, I have to acknowledge that, but it's just not an interesting read. I almost fell asleep reading this.

"Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything" — at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.

This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

German Cover, dtv


Additional Info:

Original Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: April 6th 2006 
Pages: 383
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Cover:  Viking Books for Young Readers, 2006
Genre: YA / General
ISBN: 9780670061051

Recommended for Fans of:
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
You Against Me by Jenny Downham

Have you read books by Sarah Dessen? 

How did you like this one?

Continue Reading...

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

[Review] Don't Look Back - Jennifer L. Armentrout

In DON'T LOOK BACK mean girl Samantha is found covered in blood wandering around in the woods. She has no idea how she got there, who she is and why she is there. When she gets home her family tells her that she isn't the only one who went missing:
Reminiscent of Mara Dyer- But Better

I love memory loss novels. This is exactly my niche. DON'T LOOK BACK has all the things I missed in THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER. Essentially the story lines are very similar: Girl is involved in an "accident", has no recollection of what happened, but is sure that she played a significant role.
In Mara Dyer, we obviously have a supernatural protagonist. In Sam, we just have an ordinary girl that is involved in some serious high school drama de luxe. I love novels about mean characters, about unlikeable, terrible people who have their reasons for being like this; Or who are maybe just bratty teenagers. It's insanely interesting to have her react to all the terrible things she did before the incident. There's nothing more entertaining to me than mean girls redeeming themselves.

The love interest Carson is just an overall cutie that is just the perfect guy next door. He's the son of their gardener and their romance is really adorable. Still, I'm not a fan of romance as a side plot and I would have preferred either having those two star in an all-romance novel instead of being hastily dealt with in a thriller.

I Didn't See That Ending Coming

Just as in every young adult novel we have a sloppy romance plot in here. I didn't like it the slightest bit and I thought it was extremely unnecessary. Even though the characters, from mean girls to servant's kids to Samantha's family, are all planned out very well, their relations to each other are very cliche. Armentrout obviously took the safe route and only paired stereotypical characters together:

Her brother with the old friend, the mean girls with someone else's boyfriends, the unhappily married unequal couples - the novel is full of things that I've read about dozens of times in literature. Not even once she seems to take a plunge and debut a new idea. In general, you can pretty much say that the novel is a mashup of all clichés in the genres that it combines.

BUT- this doesn't necessarily have to be a bad thing. I did enjoy the novel and despite all the cliché characters, Armentrout manages to shock and produce a decent thriller. It's not scary or actually thrilling in the least, but it keeps you up on your toes. I wanted to know desperately how it ends.




Overall: Do I Recommend?

It's all that THE UNBECOMING OF MARA DYER couldn't be. This novel gives you the notion to be predictable read, but it really isn't. You will want to desperately continue and find out what happens next. 

"Samantha is a stranger in her own life. Until the night she disappeared with her best friend, Cassie, everyone said Sam had it all-popularity, wealth, and a dream boyfriend.

Sam has resurfaced, but she has no recollection of who she was or what happened to her that night. As she tries to piece together her life from before, she realizes it's one she no longer wants any part of. The old Sam took "mean girl" to a whole new level, and it's clear she and Cassie were more like best enemies. Sam is pretty sure that losing her memories is like winning the lottery. She's getting a second chance at being a better daughter, sister, and friend, and she's falling hard for Carson Ortiz, a boy who has always looked out for her- even if the old Sam treated him like trash.

But Cassie is still missing, and the facts about what happened to her that night isn't just buried deep inside of Sam's memory- someone else knows, someone who wants to make sure Sam stays quiet. All Sam wants is the truth, and if she can unlock her clouded memories of that fateful night, she can finally move on. But what if not remembering is the only thing keeping Sam alive?"

Have you read any of Jennifer L. Armentrout's books?

Do you prefer her YA or NA novels?

Continue Reading...
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