Monday, November 18, 2013

Review: The Summer I Found You

So, I've spent the last four hours reading this entire book and wondering a few things: 
  1. Is it Aidan or Aiden? (Seriously? This is so obvious it's not even Writing 101. It's like Common Sense 101: You should know how to spell your own character's name.)
  2. Did this book not have betas? Because it has legitimately the worst grammar and punctuation I've seen in any book, ever. Someone teach Jolene Perry how to use a comma... and apostrophes... and question marks... and proper sentence structure (e.g. "I'm one of the girls who roll her eyes every day they wear their cute little uniforms." This sentence should be either referring to the speaker herself: "I'm one of the girls who rolls her eyes..." or referring to 'the girls' as a group: "I'm one of the girls who roll their eyes..." And I'm not just being picky here; there were so many sentences with such poor wording that I had to read them twice or three times just to figure out what they were trying to say). I realize that what I read was a galley and all of this could be fixed by the time the final version is published, but I sincerely doubt it. Galleys should not have even been sent out with the book in this condition. You know that feeling that you used to get in high school when you had to critique someone else's paper, and all you wanted to do was rewrite every other sentence to make it flow better and actually, you know, follow the rules of the English language? That was how I felt throughout this whole book. 
  3. What is with that cover? It's not relevant to the book at all. Neither, for that matter, is the title. The book does not even take place in the summer. It takes place during the school year, because how else would we have been forced to sit through the *totally* traumatic experience of seeing Kate's ex-boyfriend with his stereotypical new cheerleader girlfriend, or the actually traumatic experience of visualizing Kate lying on the disgusting school bathroom floor, poking herself with a needle? (For a girl who complains about feeling "gross" because she has a disease, she sure didn't seem that horrified to be basically guaranteeing herself an infection of some kind by getting the needle that close to all the bacteria that's definitely partying down there).
These things aside-- though it really is difficult for me to brush off the grammar thing-- the book was okay. The story was not bad, but the execution was. Kate and Aidan/Aiden were both self-absorbed, but what bothers me the most is that Aidan is self-absorbed in a way that makes it seem like he is that way because of how much he ~cares for someone else~ and Kate is self-absorbed in a way that makes you want to slap her. We're supposed to believe that Aidan/Aiden won't go see his sergeant's wife because of how much he thinks he failed him, or her, but in reality he won't go see her because he doesn't want to be reminded of it. Or at least that's what I got out of it. I just-- why attempt to give the male character an excuse for his selfishness, but not the female character? This way it just gives people a reason to blame the girl for the book's failures. People now get to say that she was annoying and whiny and narcissistic (God, what kind of person avoids her problems to the point where she ends up in the hospital? How shallow that she won't consider an insulin tube because of the way it looks! Kate, stop being so horrible and tell him the truth! Stop doing this to your family!), while he was caring and gentle and suffering from his traumatic past (Well, he does think about other people once in a while, so that makes it okay that he doesn't consider that maybe he's not the only person with problems...).

I'm also not entirely sure why this was classified as New Adult, as there wasn't anything any more mature than, say, Twenty Boy Summer or Saving June. Is it because the love interest is-- le gasp-- nineteen? The fragile young readers of YA lit certainly can't handle a nineteen-year-old love interest! He's practically middle-aged!

Sorry, I'm getting into snark territory. I'm just kind of annoyed because this had the potential to be a good novel that brought some diversity to contemporary YA lit (a heroine with diabetes and a hero missing an arm? Two people who aren't physically perfect falling in love? Sure, sign me up), but it was just so poorly executed. I wish the story had been written differently, is all. Disappointing. And usually I would be able to say, "Maybe next time, Author Whose Book Didn't Impress Me This Time," but I can't. I probably will not read Jolene Perry again, after spending four hours wanting to encourage her to take an introductory writing class, or even just teach her the difference between "Let's eat, Grandma!" and "Let's eat Grandma!"
It could have done wonders.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Character consistency vs. character development

This is not a review, but something I thought was important enough to put on here I guess.
I posted this gifset on Tumblr last week after the new TV spot for Catching Fire aired for the first time, because her expression in the bottom gif really struck me. But the responses to it have seemed to indicate that it struck other people for a different reason, and it's not really a reason I agree with. I think that saying this represents "character development" disregards Katniss's circumstances as well as her actual character development. So I wrote this long post about it.