Pride by Ibi Zoboi

(Forgive me cleaning out my 2019 book reviews, half of which I had written and never posted.)

Read for the July theme (a retelling) of the 2019 ONTD Reading Challenge | Pride on Goodreads 

I found this Pride and Prejudice retelling a bit restrained by being an adaptation of a well-loved story. Zuri is living with her sisters in a tight-knit neighborhood in Brooklyn that is experiencing displacement and gentrification, which brings the Darcy family into her world. 

After nearly a year I don’t remember what I didn’t love about this book, but I do remember having some difficulty with the balance between an interesting story of Zuri trying to dream bigger than she thought possible, live with the changes in her neighborhood and herself, deal with her fears for her family and her future…all while hitting the Pride and Prejudice plot points. I don’t remember feeling like these story elements conflicted, exactly, but I have to wonder if I would have liked it more as a stand-alone novel without knowing or expecting a well-loved story to be interwoven.

Recommend? Yes, if you’re not too attached to the Pride and Prejudice story
To Read: American Street by Ibi Zoboi

The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Read for the January theme (Read a Book that is Being Adapted into a Movie or TV Show in 2019) of the 2019 ONTD Reading Challenge | The Sun Is Also a Star on Goodreads

If you’re a lover of a David Levithan whirlwind, YA romance, I highly recommend also reading The Sun Is Also a Star. With Nicola Yoon’s previous book, Everything Everything, I watched the movie as soon as I was done with the book. It was such an intense page-turning kind of experience, I couldn’t help wanting to continue to live in the world of it. Then I watched it a second time with Julie. It has one of my favorite tropes, but I don’t want to give away the twist by telling you what that is.

Nicola Yoon did it again and I can’t wait to watch The Sun Is Also a Star when it comes out in May (trailer here). The cast looks interesting and I want to see how they deal with the pacing. It felt like so much was going on all of the time and I think it will have a dizzying but fun effect in the form of a movie.

I’m usually a movie-before-the-book kind of person. There is so much room to be disappointed with a two hour visual experience when it’s based on a much longer cerebral one. With a movie-book-movie sandwich of an experience, you have room to get all of the backstory of the characters and then like the movie all the better for it, provided it’s a half-decent adaptation at all.

Having read this one before the movie doesn’t give me much pause, though, since Everything Everything’s adaptation was so well done and I enjoyed The Sun Is Also a Star so much that even if the move is a little bit of a let-down, it will still be pretty good!

Recommend? If you don’t mind YA that is more romantic than realistic, yes. It may be too whimsical for some.

To Read: Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined to Meet – a collection of short stories, Nicola Yoon is one of the contributors. Also, as soon as she releases her next novel, whenever or whatever it is, I’ll read that too.

To watch: The Sun Is Also a Star, coming out May 17, 2019.

Falling – Jane Green

Read for the February theme (Love is Lit! / “fuck them both for thinking they could be happy”) of the 2019 ONTD Reading Challenge | Falling on Goodreads

As part of the 2019 ONTD Reading Challenge, I was supposed to pick up a romance (or break-up) novel for February. Nothing anyone was recommended was available from the library, so I went back to Jane Green after not having read any of her books in ten or fifteen years. I’m not sure whether she changed or I have but I struggled incredibly hard to finish Falling.

I had a conversation with a couple coworkers last week about abandoning books when they’re frustrating. Both of them mentioned giving up relatively quickly. I definitely don’t think suffering through a book (or show or movie) when you’re not having a good time is a good thing, exactly, but I can’t help myself. It’s so hard to give up when I have already invested time and interest. I hate, hate, hate to quit. It’s not a great way to be, when there are so many great books out there and limited time to read them. (Or like, anything else in the whole world to do!) And yet…it’s been a long time since I’ve refused to finish a book. Usually, I continue on long past the point where I’ve stopped enjoying it. I hope that things will turn around or there will be something redeeming – maybe I’ll even learn something? Even if the lesson is “what not to do in your writing,” I think that’s a good reason to continue. More than that, I don’t want it to “beat me” and petty as that is, that urge to conquer the book usually outweighs my displeasure and boredom.

So I finished Falling, despite the lack of emotional continuity or logic I could relate to, despite not particularly enjoying any of the characters, simply because I had a goal to read a romance I needed to accomplish. I don’t mind a fluffy romance, the pattern of “oh no I can’t date them, oh no, we’re dating, oh no we’re in looooove!” doesn’t bother me at all. This book hit some of those stops but something was hollow for me. Something didn’t resonate. There was even a twist I never saw coming and still, I didn’t find any renewed interest in the story.

The writing style itself bothered me – it felt clunky and illogical. Far be it for me to question anyone’s anxieties, but some of the thought processes of the main character felt like they were totally out of the blue sometimes, fears suddenly drummed up out of nothing to introduce conflict. Even the B plot of the main character’s new job suddenly blossoming up out of something she was passionate about (though her taste in interior design I am seriously confused by) was so rote, of course her passion translated to success, of course the first idea of a job she landed on after leaving her job in finance was perfect and everything she imagined and so introducing this as a storyline at all felt pointless. Falling in love with a person, a career, and a new role in your life should feel like something and it added up to nothing at all for me.

Not to mention, none of it felt fun. Isn’t that the point of reading a romance? That it’s light and fun or dramatic and fun or unpredictable and fun? It was a complete disappointment.

Now that I’m older – it might be interesting going back to older Jane Green books to see what I’d enjoyed in the past but just from reading descriptions, I can’t even remember the ones I have, ages and ages ago. With this experience, though…maybe those books are best left in the past.

-Melanie

Recommend? Maybe on an airplane.

To Read: Try some of the more-recommended Romance/Anti-Romance books recommended by ONTD: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne