I've spent two years avoiding this book. I remember in 2011 when I stumbled across that exciting GR description and pretty - if slightly creepy and discomfiting - cover, but my initial curiosity was quickly dampened by the reviews from my trusted goodreads friends. And for nearly two years, I have listened. My intentions were to never give this book/series another thought, until I recently came across this interesting page: 15 Young Adult Books Every Adult Should Read. And I noticed authors like [a:Laurie Halse Anderson|10003|Laurie Halse Anderson|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/authors/1236694913p2/10003.jpg] on the list. That's when something inside me rose up to meet the promise of a challenge - plus, who knows, sometimes my favourite books of all time have been those I'd taken a chance on against the odds.
But this book was just bad. The exciting premise is wasted on a novel that eats at the same lunch table as [b:Twilight|41865|Twilight (Twilight, #1)|Stephenie Meyer|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1361039443s/41865.jpg|3212258], [b:Hush, Hush|6339664|Hush, Hush (Hush, Hush, #1)|Becca Fitzpatrick|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1358261334s/6339664.jpg|6525609] and [b:Fallen|6487308|Fallen (Fallen, #1)|Lauren Kate|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1358267190s/6487308.jpg|6678670]. The mysterious paranormal aspect opens up many avenues for the author to have explored and yet she chooses instead to pick the dullest one - a cliched romance. And damn if this book isn't one huge glowing neon cliche. One where a boring heroine with a severe lack of personality meets a ridiculously good-looking, sexy, British bad boy - who could have anyone he wants - and he somehow finds himself madly in love with her. Why? Well, that remains the biggest mystery of all.
Two words come to mind when I think back over this book: wish fulfillment. But yes, the other two words spring to mind a lot too. This novel is a very fine example of a certain brand of book that contains mediocre-at-best writing, unbelievably hot male love interests and is an empty, easy sell for young teen girls. Noah really is quite laughably perfect (if you like controlling jerks, but I'll get to that in a second) with his perfect face, hair, body, smile (etc.), his massive fortune, his intelligence which includes knowledge of six languages and large quotes from various classic novels. He is so flawless, I felt like he'd just rolled off the factory production line, spritzed, polished and raring to go.
Ah yes, and about that controlling thing I mentioned. There's really no need to explain it in detail, I'll just pull up some quotes for you:
Noah placed his forefinger above my upper lip and his thumb below my bottom lip, and applied the slightest pressure, cutting me off. "Shut up," he said quietly.
What is Mara's response to his rudeness? I nodded feebly. o_O You nodded... feebly? What is wrong with you? I can't understand why you aren't all like:
Then: The waiter appeared then, and Noah plucked the menu from my hands and handed it over, rushing off our order in Spanish. The waiter departed for the kitchen.
I shot him a dark look. "I hadn't decided yet."
This also happens in [b:Fifty Shades of Grey|10818853|Fifty Shades of Grey (Fifty Shades, #1)|E.L. James|http://d202m5krfqbpi5.cloudfront.net/books/1372516342s/10818853.jpg|15732562], Christian orders for Ana without even asking what she'd like or if she's vegetarian or has any allergies. For one thing, it's flawed. But beyond that it's just goddamn rude. What exactly is sexy about a guy not giving a damn what you want? When you look past the pretty description we are given of Noah's perfection, I find him incredibly unattractive, pretentious and annoying. If I wasn't British myself, I think this book would give me a really bad opinion of British people; almost as bad as Lindsay Lohan in The Parent Trap remake when she tells her American twin "I have claaasss and you don't." *shudders*
This quote - "Because I'm European, and therefore more cultured than you" - might have been funny as an isolated incident but Noah's repetition of similar declarations of cultural superiority (with books, music, etc.) just made me think...
I also think Mara is in desperate need of a new girlfriend because the girls in this book are ALL her enemies. Even her two friends at the beginning get separated into best friend and evil girl who's trying to steal best friend away. The word "slut" naturally appears several times in this novel and usually when the characters are talking about mean girl Anna who immediately decided to make Mara's life hell because Noah showed some interest in her. This beautiful quote sums up Anna's characterisation:
"The list of what you're missing, Anna, is longer than the South Beach Free Clinic's walk-in list," Jamie said, and I was surprised to hear his voice. "Though I'm sure your hookup resume includes the same names."
Cue group laughter as good triumphs over the evil slut who doesn't deserve feelings. This always amazes me in these kind of books - that we're supposed to be sympathetic towards the MC and believe she is the victim and much more interesting because of her lack of sluttiness. I don't think I'll ever understand why that stuff matters.
I've been picking out all these quotes throughout this review but I've saved the best for last. If I had been drinking whilst reading this bit, I would have sprayed the contents of my mouth everywhere. I just... can't. This is in response to Mara finding out about how Noah slept with a girl who was in love with him just to prove a point to the girl's brother:
I should haul back and smack him, strike a blow for feminism or something or at the very least, get out of the car. But then his thumb traced my skin and without quite realizing it, I leaned toward him and rested my forehead against his.
... to hell with feminism! Hot jerk is touching my face!!