Thursday, 31 July 2014

Reading meltdown mode - the good, the bad and the wish you'd never purchased in the first place.

Only two books this week. That's poor form for me, but then again, I read Gone Girl in 36 hours.

The compare and contrast bit
Gone Girl and You Had Me at Hello both run with interchanging timelines and you need to keep your head on straight for the majority of this, especially because the latter doesn't actually give you dates, suddenly you go from now back two ten years ago.Other than both novels being penned by females, that's where the similarities end.

I loved Gone Girl. Well, loved it enough to stay up reading in into the wee small hours of the night. It may have also involved traipsing all over West Lakes just to find a copy. ...Hello was more a convenience read.

Gone Girl

This novel is set in the present day and tells the story of love going fatally wrong. Both protagonists, Nick and Amy have their secrets, and their share the narration one chapter at a time throughout the book. I was confused by this book, not so much because of the subject matter, but because I really liked the characterisation but by the start of the second third (yes, this book is split into thirds), I felt a bit misled and manipulated. Then again, this book is a thriller and I don't do them often enough to be appreciative of such mind bending.

The characters - Amy, a bored and overachieving/over educated housewife who is married to Nick, a former writer. Amy's claim to fame is that her parents wrote a children's fictional book series about her and ever since Amy has been in the spotlight. Nick loses his job around the same time that his mom and dad are getting sick, so he and Amy pack up their apartment in NYC and move to Missouri, where Amy lends Nick and and his twin sister money to open a bar, which they name The Bar. It's meant to be ironic and hipster or something.

Flynn gives Margo the nickname 'Go'. Can you PLEASE just give someone a name without then deciding they can also have a nickname which is a verb. I feel sorry for those listening on audiobook. There is also some weird innuendo between Nick and Go, despite Nick's assurances. But, just, well, ew.

There are plenty of red herrings and enough true to life parts of the novel that you get pretty sucked in. It's a 4 our of 5 stars from me.

You had me at hello

So. This book is supposed to be about Ben and Rachel, two best friends who were in love (maybe) and never got together. After leaving university ten years ago, Rachel and Ben suddenly run into each other all the time. Why? Because. Fiction.

Now, forget about that. What is book really is seems to be a rewrite of Bridget Jones's Diary. Rachel has three best friends (check), an annoying mum (check), is a writer (check) with a deranged boss (check) and seems to spend at lot of time being indecisive, spending time at Smug Married parties saying what Bridget would say but actually wouldn't because she's all polite and shit (CHEEEEEEECK).

This is pretty much one of the worst books I've ever read. Here's why:

1. Ze plot!
Rachel has flashbacks to her uni days and seems to have overthought her vast array of memories about Ben, who she apparently never had the littlest crush on the whole time they were there. These flashbacks make up a quarter of the book. Another quarter is Rach putting moves on Ben (who weirdly calls her Ronnie/Ron - the hell?!), another some boring thing about a girl named Zoe being a bitch at work and the last quarter is her rough and tumble mates being all adorable and too cutesy for words. All her friends, colleagues and acquaintances  also have nicknames, and trust me, this is confusing when there are about twenty characters to keep track of and you don't like any of them. The conversation is way too tarty, nasty and witty, especially when things get nasty. Which they tend to do. A lot.

2. Ze sub plot!
Don't care about Zoe or about a job that Rachel (Rach/Ronnie/Ron) decides she can leave at any given moment. I also don't buy into the fact that a seasoned court reporter would be so trusting of a brand new colleague. None of this made any sense and in the end I skipped these chapters.

3. The ending! 
I won't spoil it, but this is what I think happened: the author finished the book at Chapter 66, but editors decided that the ending wasn't happy enough, so she added a few more on with a different ending where everyone is a winner. WHY?!  Not every book has to end on a reasonably happy note.

4. The lack of romance-pants!
 I can't buy the fact that the love of Rachel/Rach/Ronnie/Ron's life is based all on a series of events a decade ago. Why? Three reasons.
- If Rachel never liked Ben, why would she remember the really insignificant detail?
- If this is set in the present day, it's unlikely that both parties would go completely off the grid and be unreachable. Also, Facebook.
- Rachel has been with her loser boyfriend Rhys for thirteen years. There is no motivation, Rhys is set up to be a total wanker and no one actually likes him. Give me more Jake and Bella angst here. The guy must have something redeemable after all that time.

5. This book makes me want to pack my friends into a Mini and take them to Paris for the weekend to get over a broken heart, but no, they already did that in Bridget Jones.

This book gets 2 stars, mostly because of point 5. Also, I paid for the damn thing and I need to justify the cost of it sitting on my bookshelf for a few years. This book is a Rhys, I'll just pretend to be into it.