Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Everything Leads to You

I received this book from Bookriot's YA Quarterly box. The description of the book Book Riot gave was along the lines of it being a sweet love story between two girls and a bit of mystery thrown in the mix. I have to say, I haven't read a lot of diverse books and I plan to do that in the future. I always, generally, end up enjoying diverse books so I assumed this one would easily be ranked high.

Alas, I was wrong.

When I began this book it was right away quite simple and I struggled to keep my attention on it. Of course, outside forces could have affected this by means of my busy work and school schedule leaving me with less reading energy so I was more susceptible to finding negative traits in this book. But as soon as this book was put down, I picked up another and happily read it with none of those issues, so I doubt any outside forces had anything to do with this. It's just... a poor book.

So the general idea is that our main character Emi is a lesbian. That's the first note of importance because right off the bat, the author is talking a lot about this girl's lesbianism and how her girlfriend has dumped her multiple times. Then we're introduced, briefly, to her brother who surprises her with a "graduation gift" (from high school): his apartment that she and her best friend Charlotte can live in for the next two months. Then the brother is out the door and the girls get comfy... no talking with their parents, no permission granted, it's just a-ok that these girls stay there (immediately) and they ease into apartment living with the ease of someone who has lived by themselves before. They also have these fabulous jobs with film companies, designing sets and setting up appointments... mind you they just graduated from high school. It's mentioned a few times that they are paid very little yet money never seems to be an extreme issue for these girls. Even if you're paid little, driving all over the place and eating out or even buying groceries for the apartment you were gifted for two months can get costly for someone who is paid nothing. 

They're thrown into a mystery which is solved within the first half of the book. They discover a girl who is the long-lost granddaughter of a dead Hollywood celebrity who also, despite only having ever acted in school plays, is a natural when it comes to the camera. She lands a role in a film, gets a ton of money from her long-lost grandfather, and falls in love with our narrator Emi. 

Let me tell you right away, this is entirely predictable from the start. Once the story laid out its framework I guessed all of the occurrences that were going to happen and I was right. It's never fun to read a book that has absolutely no surprises for you. Everything that happens occurs in perfect order like a tidy puzzle that fell out of the box already stuck in the right places. It reads like a fantasy novel for a thirteen year old. When I was that age, I wrote a "book" about how I went to see a Broadway show and they spotted me in the audience and knew I was perfect for a role on that show. So suddenly I was on Broadway and became famous. Everything worked out perfectly. There you have it, the mind of a thirteen year old, and that's how this book came across. All dreams come true and in a very tidy package.

I don't want to completely blame the author for this material because I know a lot of eyes see books before they're published so surely, someone along the line failed her. They should have seen the lack of sense the book made when three-fourths of the way through you finally get a description of what the narrator looks like (despite that she's quick to describe everyone else) and the fact that she apparently is a quarter black. That bit really left a bad taste in my mouth as I feel this random fact, never mentioned beforehand, was brought up so late in the book and seemingly only to tie the narrator to one of the characters and give them something to connect over. Her race was a plot device and that's just not cool.

I also really disliked the first quarter of the book which was entirely unnecessary. Emi seems very cautious about the developing relationship that starts later on in the book, but for the first quarter of the book you'd never suspect she understood the word caution. Her being a lesbian is shoved down your throat and apparently she was just the poster child of lesbian at her school. Everyone knew and everyone was 100% accepting as people literally lined up to kiss her. It would be great if this world was that accepting of the LGBT community, but it unfortunately isn't quite there yet. So this whole high school experience seemed quite unbelievable. Plus, the whole backstory of her lesbianism seemed so forced when it didn't need to be. Why can't Emi just happen to like girls, rather than her entire character be that she is a lesbian who happens to be named Emi? When it comes to straight characters, this doesn't happen. It's a passing note that Charlotte likes Emi's brother but not once is it mentioned "She's straight. She's dated a lot of guys." but it's all handled differently for the lesbian characters. The rest of the book it's more subtle, she likes someone, she wants to kiss someone, that someone just happens to be a girl and I feel that was much more casual and appropriate. 

The book had one strongsuit: whenever Emi would enter a room, she'd note all the tiny details of that room. You knew it inside and out and the author did just a marvelous job with this. The attention to detail was great and I wish this was in more YA novels. It's everywhere else that lacked.

When you weren't paying attention to the layout of the room, you were handed dialogue and conversation. The dialogue, generally, was simple and often unnecessary. Then often enough there was reference to dialogue, "She told him this" or "I told her about that." We were given a lot of this story rather than shown. I only had the opportunity to fantasize and dream up the story in my head when I was reading about the layout of a room and that's not enough.

I nearly gave up on this book multiple times. By the halfway point, I felt that it was becoming a waste of my time and figured I'd try and finish it as quickly as I could. A quarter of the book left, I almost gave up--remaining page count be damned. B convinced me to keep on reading and just finish the book to give it a better review, after all, it could surprise me.

It didn't. It didn't surprise me. Not once.

Actually, that's a lie, I was surprised at how awful it was.  Maybe this book just wasn't for me, maybe it is too young for me, maybe I'm a bitter and mean person who doesn't understand the "true meaning" behind the tale, either way I won't be pursuing this author's other books in the near future until the taste of this one is out of my mouth.

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