Book Review: Since You’ve Been Gone

Since You’ve Been Gone

By: Mary Jennifer Payne

(I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.) 

Goodreads Score: N/A (ARC) 

My Score (Official): 1.7

My Score (Unofficial): 1000 million similes out of 9000 million similes 

Highlights: Quick and short read, cover is nice 

Lowlights: I very much dislike the main character, many parts were so cliché 

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“Is it possible to outrun your past? Fifteen-year-old Edie Fraser and her mother, Sydney, have been trying to do just that for five years. Now, things have gone from bad to worse. Not only has Edie had to move to another new school she’s in a different country.

Sydney promises her that this is their chance at a fresh start, and Edie does her best to adjust to life in London, England, despite being targeted by the school bully. But when Sydney goes out to work the night shift and doesn’t come home, Edie is terrified that the past has finally caught up with them.
Alone in a strange country, Edie is afraid to call the police for fear that she ll be sent back to her abusive father. Determined to find her mother, but with no idea where to start, she must now face the most difficult decision of her life.”

(Taken from Goodreads)

Okay, so let me start this off by saying I am not an unduly harsh critic. Usually, my reviews tend to fall somewhere in the 2 star to 4 1/2 star range. If I give a book a five, then it’s because it’s a new favorite of mine. Usually, though, I can find a couple of faults that knock it down to the four range. And likewise, when I find a book that is horrible, there are usually a couple redeeming things to push it into the two star range.

Such is not the case with this book.

Ugh. This book bothered me so much because it truly had the chance to be something beautiful and insightful. And it irritates me because it was an opportunity wasted. The synopsis from Goodreads is pretty accurate, and the summary is what drew me in. I’ve been on a YA contemporary kick lately, and so I eagerly requested this ARC, expecting nothing but good things. Oh, how wrong I was. Let’s start with the characters, shall we?

Edie Fraser, the protagonist, is so unlikable. Really. One of the most unlikable main characters I’ve met this year. I get that she’s a teenager, and that she has a sucky life, and all that, but really, she makes it so hard to care about her. First off, she’s shallow. Like so shallow, not even small insects could drown in the puddle she’s got going on.

On her first day at school, a “freaky-looking girl” tries to be nice to her, and this is a verbatim thought that goes through Edie’s mind: “What a freak. She actually wants me to shake her hand?” 

And then, later in the book, when she and her love interest, Jermaine, are venturing into London to look for her mom, the main thing Edie seems to be worried about are her looks. Seriously. Edie complains about not being able to get enough sleep because she needs to wake up 2 hours early so that she looks decent for Jermaine. 2 hours. 2 hours. What girl cares so much about impressing a guy (and a guy, by the way, who Edie suspects killed his own brother) that she needs two hours to prepare herself…when her mother just went missing? Save that kind of the thing for an actual date, Edie, and let’s focus, please! 

Edie is also oblivious to the problems of those that surround her. I know that she has a full plate herself, but she continually lashes out against those that have their own things going on. Of course, she always feel regret for her harsh words like, literally two seconds later, a pace that just seems so unnatural. There are, of course, other characters worth talking about in this book, but if I do, I feel that I’ll end up spending way too much time ranting. Suffice it to say that you’ll know the full personality of most of these characters within pages of meeting them. From the stereotypically horrible popular girl who hates Edie immediately, and then the teacher who seems to want nothing more than to make her life miserable, I’ve seen these characters too many times before. I do think that Mary Payne did a good job with Savitri and Keisha, two of Edie’s friends. They felt more real than any of the other characters. They was nice enough, but they was also sort of snobby and elitist–a cool combination. I wanted to see more of them.

But the characters alone aren’t the reason I rated this book so low. The writing just didn’t cut it for me, either. It improved a lot toward the second half, but I debated giving up many times during the first half. Part of it was because Edie was narrating, and I can’t stand her thoughts, but another part had to do with the writing and I, which just kept clashing. And for some reason, the similes leapt out at me in an awful way. I mean, I’m all for a few good similes, but for some reason, the ones that the author chose had me noticing each and every one, something that never happens in other books. After the first few, they just became more and more jarring, to the point where I was dreading running into another one, and each addition jolted me that much more away from the story. I mean, similes are good in moderation and all, but there comes a point of no return, and this book crossed that point.

I know I haven’t said many good things in this review, so let me end on a positive note. The plot did follow the synopsis, and I was interested the whole time in seeing whether Edie finds her mother, and what ends up happening to her. If this book had been a lot longer than it was, I wouldn’t have cared enough to finish, but it was a short book and so it was of my own free will that I did decide to see it through.

I know that I was harsh in this review. It makes me so uncomfortable to have to be this harsh, but to be honest there were more flaws than the ones I discussed here. Still, with more work and experience, I think that Mary Payne could end up one to watch out for! What do you think? Have you been reading and good books lately? Any awful ones? Tell me about them in the comments below! 

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Book Review: Kissed by an Angel

Kissed by an Angel

By: Elizabeth Chandler

Quick Stats:

Goodreads Score: 3.83

My Score (Official): 2.23 stars out of 5.

My Score (Unofficial): 12 celery sticks out of 48.

The Highlights: Gabriel. Beth’s chock full of cheese romance. It’s quick and very, very easy.

The Lowlights: No plot to be seen, flat characters, build-up, build-up, build-up and then…nada. It’s very, very easy.

Need to Read Urgency Level: Pass.

Kissed by an Angel

This book is like a roller coaster ride. More accurately, it is like a broken roller coaster ride.

The build-up starts. You tick up inch by inch, slowly, so slowly, tense because you’re waiting for that inevitable drop to come. You’re waiting for that wild moment when the plot actually starts. Tick-tick-tick this roller coaster goes. And then…you reach the top. You’re finally there. This is where the fun begins. This is the reason you came to the amusement park. For this moment. And then–

–nothing happens.

“Hold it right there,” a worker shouts. “We’re having technical difficulties. Roller coaster’s broken. The ride’s gonna her delayed for an hour until we can get it functional again.”

The Summary

THERE. That is my feelings on book 1 of Kissed by an Angel. The first book is roughly 230 pages. It takes about 150 of that for the first major plot point to even happen, and then the mystery and thriller part is held off until book 2. UGH. So much anger. So much disappointment. I kept reading, thinking ‘oh here comes the plot’, ‘oh yes, the plot is sure to be coming soon, oh maybe we’ll have some action now…oh wait, is that plot twist I see coming?! Oh, no just a blur in the text, hmm maybe next chapter…’ but it never happened. In fact, the book ended with one of the main characters, Tristan, realizing in a great act of self accomplishment something that I thought the reader was supposed to know from the flash-forward on page 1. But more ragging to come later. First, the summary.

When Tristan, the golden boy swimmer, first sees the beautiful, head-in-the-clouds Ivy, he knows that he’s falling for her. Unfortunately, Ivy doesn’t date Jocks. However, after several chance (or maybe not so much) run-ins with Tristan, she begins to see past the guy she thinks he is, and to the smart, kind soul that he really has. Ivy begins to fall as much in love with him, as he to her, relying on his company more and more during the stressful times of her mother’s remarriage. And then one horrifying night everything changes. Tristan dies. Ivy’s whole life is turned around. Everything in her shatters. Her happiness, her hope, and even her belief in angels. But the thing is, angels do exist. And Tristan is now hers. But will he ever find a way to let Ivy know?

My Feelings:

So not even that great of a summary. I had the three book omnibus edition, and so the summary I read was very different from the one I wrote. The summary that led me to read this talked about Tristan finding his killer before he strikes out at Ivy, which I thought was intriguing. Not intriguing enough to be in the first book of the series, however. But enough about plot–or the lack of it. Let’s talk about something else. Like Ivy. Dear, dear Ivy. Ivy, who I can’t understand why Tristan would ever like in the first place. Sure, she’s pretty. Sure, she has hair like a halo. But in terms of personality? The girl is as bland as wheat bread. She’s a boring host. And she’s cold. Although Tristan seems like a nice guy who anyone would get along with, Ivy seems to be extremely irritated by his crush on her. She constantly asks everyone if he has said anything about her, is disappointed if they don’t, but claims not to be interested in him. Also, in the beginning of the novel, she dismisses him as a viable option because jocks don’t have brains. While she cares about her brother, and even her may-end-up-being-evil brother, Gregory, she is quick to judge others, although I think she’s supposed to have one of those nice girl personalities. Tristan himself is not bad, but not someone I go crazy for. He’s nice and he’s a gentleman that I’m sure many people would love to have, but I’ve always been one for guys with an edge. He’s a cardboard cut-out, just like many of the characters in this story. For example, Ivy’s two “best” friends, Suzanne and Beth, only become friends with each other in their (strangely obsessive) quest to get her to date Tristan. WHY DO THEY CARE SO MUCH? WHY? SOMEONE TELL ME WHY. The only remotely interesting characters was Gregory, but no offense Gregory, you’re not enough to hold up an entire novel.

Anyways, in summary, the plot of Kissed by an Angel didn’t end up happening, the characters were like drawings of characters (this character is not a character), and the questions I sought to answer through this book were answered by more questions.

To be fair, this book was only book one in an omnibus trilogy, and so (I think) the questions I wanted answers will eventually be answered, and according to Goodreads it get’s a lot better. I probably won’t find out, though, because in all reality: I’ve lost all caring.

Prediction for Sequel: Ivy mourns Tristan’s lost some more. Tristan talks about how much he loves Ivy. All the characters will sit around the pizza parlor and say things like “Hi. I’m Ivy’s best friend. I’m provided for comedic relief.” “Hello. I’m Eric. I’m the trouble maker.” “We may be archetypes, but we are all different.” Everybody nods.

So, what do you think? Am I being too harsh? Or do you agree with me? What are some books that you felt had absolutely no plot or ridiculously flat characters?