Lovely Vicious: A Book Review

Book: Lovely Vicious (Lovely Vicious #1)

Author/Authoress: Sara Wolf

Lovely Vicious (Lovely Vicious, #1)

Cover: 2/5

It’s good looking enough but I can’t remember a single time when Isis ever went swimming. So, it’s pretty much inaccurate unless Sara Wolf wanted to convey the fact that Isis felt like she was drowning…okay that’s kind of metaphysical. Too metaphysical. 2/5 for the cover.

Plot: 3/5

Seventeen-year-old Isis Blake hasn’t fallen in love in three years, nine weeks, and five days, and after what happened last time, she intends to keep it that way. Since then she’s lost eighty-five pounds, gotten four streaks of purple in her hair, and moved to the Buttcrack-of-Nowhere Ohio to help her mom escape a bad relationship.

All the girls in her new school want one thing – Jack Hunter, the Ice Prince of East Summit High. Hot as an Armani ad, smart enough to get into Yale, and colder than the Arctic, Jack Hunter’s never gone out with anyone. Sure, people have seen him downtown with beautiful women, but he’s never given high school girls the time of day. Until Isis punches him in the face.

Jack’s met his match. Suddenly everything is a game.

The goal: Make the other beg for mercy.

The game board: East Summit High.

The reward: Something neither of them expected.

The blurb’s a bit misleading. I thought it would be a cheesy, fun, flirt love-hate romance. It definitely is not.

Sure, Jack is an Ice Prince and Isis is cynical and disbelieving of love but there is so much more to the story than that. By the time you get to chapter 5 or so you’ll find out that Jack works as an escort and Isis was abused emotionally. Their backstories are truly tragic and I think the representation of who they become because of their experiences is pretty accurate.Through most of this book, I felt like a balloon was trapped in my throat. It was just so sad at times but Isis would never let me cry. Her tough, cynical, overtly-honest words refused to let me feel any pity for her. Only sympathy. Even when I got near the end of the middle and found out that their backstories were a lot more tragic than originally stated, I still couldn’t cry because neither Isis or Jack were the type to appreciate crying.

But there were times I burst out laughing. Sure their antics were a little….implausible and immature. But they were hilarious. And they lightened the mood considerably. Without them, this book would have been gloom and doom and full of angst. With it, it was dark with a streak of humour.

Characters:4/5

Isis: She comes across as totally confident and in-control but she’s hiding a insecure mess. She’s been abused- mentally, emotionally and physically and it’s done a number on her self confidence. But she’s really loyal. And that’s what gets her dragged into this whole ‘war’. Isis was a character I really enjoyed. I read this book in bed and I she made me roll off it  laughing with her intensely sarcastic and sometimes deeply inappropriate retorts.

Jack: I get the feeling that I’m supposed to like this character, but I just can’t. It’s a mess. He’s too ice-cold for me to really feel anything for/about him. He keeps on doing stuff which is morally…just not done. I really don’t have much tolerance for this guy. Maybe he’s supposed to get my sympathy but he pretty much dug his own hole. What I do like about him: In the ‘War’, he’s able to keep his own. When Isis comes up with a one-liner that would have embarrassed me to pieces he notches up the ‘War’ another level with a clever quip and a less-than-clever prank.
Also his Mom was really cool. Although isn’t it a bit sad when you like the love interest’s Mom more than you like the character?

Kayla: Okay, this she was a really interesting character. One that might be more interesting than the MC…Nah, she isn’t but she comes a close second. Kayla is Isis’s best friend but their relationship isn’t that simple. For one thing, Kayla gets seriously annoyed whenever someone takes her for just another pretty face. She isn’t and Isis is one of the first to actually acknowledge it.  Kayla has a serious crush on Jack. So that’s one thing that really complicated their friendship.
I think I was kind of creeped out (just a little bit) when Isis paid Jack to take Kayla out on a date. I was even more creeped out when he agreed (because it was kind of obvious that he liked Isis) but it became clearer by the end of the date. Kayla reminds Isis of a prettier version of her younger self- naïve and carefree.

Besides these characters, there was a whole cast of supporting characters who were pretty amazing. I think I especially loved Wren. He plays a huge part in this book and despite the fact that you should think that he’s evil ( gasp!- he’s Nameless’ cousin) he’s actually the sweetest and most caring character in the book.

Knife Guy was hilarious (not that you would think that from his nickname) and Avery definitely played her frenemy part well.

Romance:1/5

Yes, I agree that Jack and Isis are like a modern-day Romeo and Juliet.  But only because the whole Romeo and Juliet romance was pretty messed up. They were 14, Romeo ditched another girl for her, they got married, killed relatives, forgot about silly things like- I don’t know, pulses?, and poisoned themselves. Yep, totally messed up. And that’s what the romance in this book is like. It’s not a hate-love relationship. It’s like  a hate-hate turned into lust relationship. Gross.

But I can see the attraction. Maybe… deep down, somewhere.

Writing: 5/5

There were two things I loved about the book. One was Isis. The other was the dialogue with Isis.

“How did you find me? If you hacked into the Club’s computer to look up my appointments – ”
“Whoa, I think you overestimate me, shitlord. Last time I checked all I did was be in the wrong place at the right time. I saw you and had to – ”
“Stalk me.”
“ – delicately approach you. In a sideways manner. From behind. Without being seen at all. For ten minutes.”

I would love to slap you right now, but I’m currently wielding a nine pound ball and I’m afraid that would be called murder

“You’re drunk.”
“Yeah, and you’re ugly, but do I complain about it? No! Because I don’t complain about things that I can’t change. That’s called intelligence.”

Don’t you have something to better to work on?” I hiss. “Like golfing or eating prunes or dying?”
The old lady looks shocked.
“Okay, sorry, not dying. But seriously, prunes are good for you.”

Plotholes:2/5

Most of the war was completely unrealistic. At times, it got really, really vicious. I kept on thinking something like ‘He/She went too far. They’re gonna get screwed.’ throughout the book. The Principal’s involvement was really pushing it too far. I mean since when would a professional get involved in such a childish and immature prank war?

At times it seemed like this was a fanfiction. A bunch of fun, hilarious events haphazardly connected to each other with a bucket load of immature insults thrown in. I’m certain that the war part of this book would’ve been a lot of fun to write but in the realistic scheme of things, it doesn’t make much sense. It was created solely to show that Isis and Jack could take a whole lot of crap and keep moving. Which is an admirable message, but I think the ‘War’ was the wrong way to go about showing that both characters were strong, creative and versatile individuals.

Warning: The book features quite a bit of profanity. It kind of bugged me so I’m including that here.

Ending: 4/5

Oh my gosh. This is the definition of a cliff-hanger. <spoiler> She gets amnesia, forgets about Jack and meets Sophie </spoiler>. I need to see where this is going. It’s heart breaking. Heart-breaking I tell you. This was really, really well-written.

Overall Rating: 2.5/5

I’m sure this was a fun book to write and it was definitely a fun book to read but if you actually think about this book for a minute, then you’ll realize most of this book makes no sense. The only redeeming features (the ones that stopped this book from being put in the same category as Matched or The Selection) was the excellent dialogue and the some of the characters. If you can ignore every thing else, then you should really enjoy this book.

 

This Is What Happy Looks Like: A Book Review

Book: This Is What Happy Looks Like

Author/Authoress: Jennifer Brown

“From: EONeill22@hotmail.com
Sent: Saturday, June 8, 2013 1:18 PM
To: GDL824@yahoo.com
Subject: what happy looks like
Sunrises over the harbor. Ice cream on a hot day. The sound of the waves down the street. The way my dog curls up next to me on the couch. Evening strolls. Great movies. Thunderstorms. A good cheeseburger. Fridays. Saturdays. Wednesdays, even. Sticking your toes in the water. Pajama pants. Flip-flops. Swimming. Poetry. The absence of smiley faces in an e-mail.

What does it look like to you?”  

This Is What Happy Looks Like

Cover: 5/5

I love the tiny boat which is probably similar to the one Ellie and Graham sailed in during Ellie’s ‘mission’ to find her father. I love the sun rising in the background which represents a happy time in their relationship but most of all I love the fact that the characters are silhouetted for their privacy- a major issue in this book. Another plus point needs to be given for the title. This Is What Happy Looks Like is not only a cute title but a fitting one too. Five on five for the cover.

Characters: 2/5

The characters in this book were not particularly strong which is peculiar for a young adult contemporary book.

Ellie is a normal small town girl who just so happens to be the illegitimate daughter of a famous politician. This is why she is constantly freaked out by paparazzi. She’s an aspiring writer, enjoys long walks on the beach and eating ice cream. I won’t criticize Jennifer’s writing style- it’s great, definitely the show not tell variety, but Ellie is such a cookie-cutter character. Quite honestly, she’s a cliché. There’s nothing really quirky or cool about her. Not her hair (which is a brownish red), her hobbies (mentioned above), her clothes (t-shirts, skirts and rubber flip flops) or her dreams. Maybe the ordinariness is part of her charm for some, but for me her normality was just boring.

Graham Larkin is kind of cliché too to be honest. He’s a bit of a stalker and goes into long tangents about why his fame is so annoying. But other than that, I did like him as a character. He was definitely more quirky than Ellie was (it’s funny how much I like character quirks)- He has a pet pig and  obsessed with finding a ‘whoopi pie’. I think this was part of what contributed to his sweet, lovable characteristic traits. When you look at all these details, do you really think that he’s the kind of guy to punch camera people? No, me neither. I was kind of annoyed when he started to go out of character; I liked him sweet and cute, dammit!

One thing I really, really, really disliked about this book was the absence of support characters. In the beginning of the book we are introduced to Quinn, a super short, super cute character who is the main character’s best friend and I thought she looked promising. My hopes were dashed, however, when she suddenly stopped being friendly with Ellie and just dropped off the radar. Olivia, Graham’s co-star had the potential to be either a great character or a bad character but Jennifer Brown doesn’t use her at all. She’s not a character at all!

The parents in this book are not that great either. Sure, Ellie’s mom is nice and protective but even then she doesn’t make much of an appearance. We get a huge backstory about Graham’s parents. About how they don’t really support him in his acting career, how his home life is a bit strained, how he moved away and is kind of glad they don’t visit, etc. But it all dissolves with a banal, trite phone call at the end.

Plot:4/5

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?

I dived into this book fully expecting a cutesy, fun, breezy read with cliché, cutesy, fun, breezy characters and a cliché, cutesy, fun,breezy plotline and that’s what I got more or less. This book doesn’t get any points for morality or profoundness. In fact it inclines slightly to the horribly cheesy. But the dialogue in this book is beautiful. It’s what you could expect from teenagers. Natural, light and beautiful in it’s simplicity.

“I’m not sure I’m quite finished saying hello yet.”

and

“Salutations,” he said, and she smiled.
“Good morning.”
“Yeah,” he said. “It really is.”  

and

“I never said I was good,” he told her, taking the pen. “Just that I liked doing it.”
“That’s the best kind of good.”   

See what I mean?

Romance: 2/5

It wasn’t insta-love. Or at least that’s what I tried telling myself. They had written e-mails to each other for almost three months, right? But, no matter how I tried to think about it, I couldn’t forget the fact that this story effectively takes place over the huge (sarcasm) span of five days. Definitely enough time to build a strong, stable romance. Yep, definitely.

I was so not on board with the whole damsel in distress thing either. I kind of wanted to jump ship when he made a bet (in her favour) for a thousand bucks so that she could use the money to go to a poetry course at Harvard. Feminism, anyone?

Plotholes: 2/5

No one accidentally pen pals a stranger who ends up being a movie star. But it’s just a book and this is excusable too anyone who’s just looking for a fun, easy, light read. I honestly didn’t have too much problem with this part. After all, if I can read books about vampires and witches without complaining that they’re unrealistic, I can do the same for this one.

The worst part of this book was the fact that as soon as problems reared their ugly head, they were smoothened over miraculously with very little effort on either of the character’s parts. Got caught and recognized by paparazzi as the illegitimate child of a famous politician? No problem, that’s only a tiny footnote in the article which exclaims boldly that you’re Graham Larkin’s girlfriend. Seeing your parents became rarer and rarer after you became a movie star and worrying that it’s your fault? It’s not because they disapprove of your career, it’s because the flashing lights of Hollywood are too much for them. Punched a cameraman? Oh it’s okay, your director says you need to look tougher for your role in your next movie. I kid you not, these were actual problems and solutions in the book ‘This Is What Happy Looks Like’. Though some things in life really do come together at the last minute with virtually no effort, most things do not. And this is not just unrealistic, it’s an unhealthy message too. You can not solve your problems by waiting, doing nothing and hoping for the best.

Overall recommendation: 2.5/5

I’m not even sure why I liked this book. I read this book within the week so it may be recent book syndrome. After all the character’s were boring, the romance was unrealistic and the plot was kind of cliché. But there’s other things about this book too. The sweet emails that were sent back and forth, the quest for ‘whoopi pies’ and the quick, natural banter all brought a smile to my face. I wouldn’t recommend buying this book but if you ever get a chance to borrow it, please do.