Recent Reads: The Fine (I Guess), The Meh, and The Not So Great

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Thursdays are for book reviews, but I really only like to do full-blown reviews for the books I really liked or loved…

So I skip over the ones I just kinda liked, or didn’t really like at all.

But I’ve read a lot of “eh, this was fine, BUT” and “eh, I really didn’t like this” books this summer, so I thought I’d do mini reviews on each. So in no particular order:

1. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black

I’ve heard a lot about Black in the writer world and even though vampires aren’t really my thing, I decided to give this a try. The beginning was awesome: girl wakes up alone at a party in a house full of people who’ve been murdered by vampires. She finds her ex-boyfriend (who’s been bitten and therefore is “Cold”, because he has the potential to turn) and a full-blown vampire tied up in one of the bedrooms, and for reasons that are never made fully clear, decides to take both of them with her when she escapes the house. She proceeds to make a series of such fantastically poor choices throughout the novel that it’s actually quite unbelievable that she manages not to die every five minutes.

The Good: Well-written, a relatable protagonist (until she starts being stupid), great descriptions, a believable setting.

The Bad: Inexplicably bad choices made by all the characters with no sufficient reasoning to back them up, a meandering plot, hard-to-follow rules of the world-building, comically bad villains, GORE (should have been expected so this one’s my fault, but I DO NOT LIKE blood), a non-swoony love interest, and it felt wayyyy too long, but I think that’s just because by the end I wasn’t enjoying it and wanted it to be over.

4/10 stars for me. If you like vampire stories, I’d still recommend you read it, because it was well-written. I haven’t given up on Holly Black altogether but will not be reading any more vampire stories of hers. (Any other Holly Black recos you can make? Let me know!)

2. Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Eh. This was fine. I guess. Sarah Dessen is a great writer, of course, who write believable characters in believable settings. This one is about a nice girl whose brother is in jail for accidentally crippling a boy while driving drunk, and it deals with her switching schools and making new friends and meeting a boy all while dealing with the residual guilt of what her brother did plus her feelings that she’s always been the second-tier sibling. It was all fine. Just not amazing.

The Good: Good prose, of course, a believable premise, a cute love interest, interesting family dynamics, a well-drawn setting. It was all fine.

The Bad: Nothing stood out. Nothing made me jump for joy or swoon or cry. It was all just kind of even-keeled. The protagonist was fine, but she was pretty boring. Same with the love interest. And her best friend had this weird french fry fetish, which I think was supposed to be cute and quirky but really just came off as odd.

5/10 stars for me because I can’t think of many reasons to dislike it, but I can’t think of many reasons to like it, either. I’d say read it if you want, but there are other, better Sarah Dessen books out there. Meh.

3. The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle.

This one I disliked the most. Perfect, goody-two shoes girl from perfect family meets “poor” boy from foster family and they fall in love. The female protagonist is so comically naive and juvenile and virginal it prompted me to go back through my own manuscript and ensure that my own protagonist was nothing like her. The boy has been in love with her for years because she’s “pretty” which is one of my pet peeves. There’s some drama, and some family stuff, but it all takes a backseat to the insta-love, which isn’t tense or compelling at all.

The Good: The writing’s good. I mean, I read the whole thing. The family dynamics at the beginning had the potential to be interesting, but then they petered out.

The Bad: The female protagonist sucked. Most of the supporting characters were just kind of meh.It had a ton of sex for YA, which is fine, but it just didn’t work for me here. Insta-love is boring. There was a super weird melodramatic climactic scene. I didn’t really care about the characters.

3/10 stars for me. This is one I’d advise you not to waste your time on. Better books out there.

4. This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith

Another one that was cute, but also just kind of meh. The premise was pretty cliché: small town girl accidentally emails hot movie star IT boy, but he doesn’t tell her who he is, and they develop this bond over email, and then he comes to shoot a movie in her town and HIJNKS ensue. I’ve read Jennifer E. Smiths other books (The Geography of You and Me, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight) and those were both better, I think. I just connected more with the characters and their motivations and the love story.

The Good: Well-written, as Smith definitely can write. A cute beginning, a believable alternating-perspective narrative. Good setting (Maine coastal town in the summer). The protagonists were fine.

The Bad: The cardboard side characters: the bitchy, beautiful co-star, the quirky best friend, the senator dad, the evil paparazzi. The B plot, which was about the protagonist finding her estranged father, was not concluded satisfactorily. A premise that requires a suspension of disbelief. And the love story was just fine. Not great.

6/10 for me. Read it if you want something light and cute and fun and not entirely believable.

That’s it for me (semi) trash-talking books for now. Did you read any of these? Did you like them? What else have you been reading? I have a huge TBR stack but am never opposed to adding to it!

Image (which uses the word “Fine” in a different way than I do) found here

2 thoughts on “Recent Reads: The Fine (I Guess), The Meh, and The Not So Great

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