I resolved to write more book reviews this year, and so here we go…
So far in 2018, I’m at 2 three-star reads and I’m also halfway through a book on craft for the first time in what feels like forever.
But I liked one of those 3-star reads better than the other — and I have a lot more to say about it — so here we go.
This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills:
Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.
Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.
I liked this book. It’s well-written, cute, sweet, with an interesting protagonist. And I like that the primary focus of the book is friendship. There aren’t enough books that focus on that.
But I didn’t love it.
I think my main issue is this description:
a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming
This was basically my impetus for buying this book. I LOVE books about weird group dynamics and consuming friendships. So I went into this expecting something akin to The Secret History, or The Likeness, or The Raven Boys.
It was nowhere close to any of these things.
It was a normal group of normal teenagers who have normal levels of friendship with each other.
So perhaps my main issue is the misleading copy on the back cover blurb, or perhaps it’s some of the other things I’ll get into, but the main takeaway is: this is a decent book if you want something light and sweet. But it will not blow you away.
Sloane. She was different from most protagonists I’ve encountered. And she was a lot different from me. Normally I relate hard to protagonists who are a lot like me, but something about this girl — her courage, her lack of self-consciousness, her lack of shyness — just fascinated me. I think it’s that I really appreciate people who are willing to put themselves out there and look stupid or do something I would find embarrassing, and then not be embarrassed about it. Sloane was that person.
Friendship as the most important relationship. There was a romance, and there were family dynamics (too many, but more on that later) but the book did emphasize the friendships above all else. Not enough books do this.
It was well-written. A must for me.
Vera and Gabe. They were well-rounded, believable, likable characters. (Like I wish the rest of the characters were.) I wish we could have gotten more from them.
THE LESS GOOD:
The beginning. It started off a little slow — I actually considered DNFing briefly — but thankfully picks up about a quarter of the way through.
Underdeveloped characters. I felt like I didn’t really know most of the members of this “consuming” friendship group. Remy’s only characteristic was he wanted his ex back. His ex Aubrey’s only characteristic was “stand-offish”. Frank’s was “fabulous.” Gabe and Vera, as the friends who get closer to Sloane, were thankfully more rounded out, but if this was really a “consuming” friend group, we should know all of them, not just those two.
Too much family time. Part of this is personal bias — I will admit that up front. I’m not a huge fan of YA books where teens have these wonderful, loving relationships with their parents and siblings. Because I did not have this as a teen. I love my family now, but when I was a teenager, we fought constantly. They were never the people I would turn to for comfort or understanding or anything, back then — I felt like they just didn’t get me. So I relate much harder to teenagers who feel isolated from their families.
All that being said, there was still too much family in this book. It was supposed to be about her friends, and all the family time seemed to detract from that.
There was too much going on. This, I think, was the book’s main problem. It was supposed to be about this “consuming” friendship. But it wasn’t. It was about Sloane moving to a new town and meeting some new people. Oh, and getting a crush on one. Oh, and her parents’ marital troubles. And her friends’ dealing with their mom’s death. And their other friends’ failed relationship. And her dad’s writing career. And fanfiction. And tracking down a painting. And her friends dealing with their dad’s too-young wife. Oh there’s also her singing career to worry about. SO MANY THINGS. They all felt underdeveloped — because if the author had chosen to develop them all properly, the book would have been 1000 pages long.
We didn’t need a good amount of these things. What was the point of showing snippets of Sloane’s singing career? What was the point of Sloane’s dad going on and on about fanfiction? Sure, there were some cute lines about “people write fanfiction to make stories end how they want,” but all in all I felt it just detracted from the interesting parts of the story — the characters.
So I get why this book didn’t show a consuming friendship: there wasn’t room for it. Which, by definition, means it wasn’t consuming. It was ordinary.
I’ll go 5/10 stars on this. Read it! It’s cute! Just don’t go in expecting something epic.