Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
*Disclaimer: I have come across the advanced reader's copy of this novel. It's due to be released on August 15, 2013. There is a request in the front of the book that if I quote from this copy, I should indicate that my review is based on an uncorrected text.
On that note, an amazon summary, "You stop fearing the Devil when you're holding his hand...
Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White's sleepy, seaside town...until River West comes along. River rents the guesthouse behind Violet's crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard. Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more? Violet's grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery...who makes you want to kiss back. Violet's already so knee-deep in love, she can't see straight. And that's just how River likes it.
A gothic thriller romance with shades of Stephen King and F. Scott Fitzgerald, set against a creepy summertime backdrop--a must-read for fans of Beautiful Creatures, The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, and Anna Dressed in Blood." AMAZON SUMMARY OF CLEARLY A ROMANCE NOVEL
I'm going to apologize in advance for everything I'm about to say. I couldn't stand this book. I simply could not stand it. I aggressively fell asleep on this a couple times, and would love to share the paragraph that drove me to quit trying to read it. "I glared at River. Tears were dripping out of my eyes, and I was pissed. 'River, that was cruel. I was over missing her, and then you brought her back and now I'm not over missing her anymore,'" (Tucholke, page 157). Again, I have the advanced reader's copy so that might not be in the published version, and if it is, it might not be on that page.
Out of context! Whee!
Also, when I was on google, searching for the image of the book cover, I came across a number of things that share this title. So in that case, there might be some cultural reference that this entire book is about, but as I tend to ignore a large majority of 'culture' I have missed this reference. I don't really mind. Maybe that would have made a difference in the long run though.
Alright, so for the context of how much of this book that I read, the book is 359 pages long and I made it to 157. That's about 43% of the book (see, I totally tried). Again, this is the advanced reader's copy so that might not be accurate once the book is published. Bleh.
So there's four main characters; Violet who is the twin sister of Luke, who are both Sunshine's neighbors, and who have rented out their guesthouse to River. That's how they're all connected on a base level.
More in depth characterization (they're all 17 by the way): Violet is the narrator who claims to be patient but has an almost non-existent attention span, wears her dead grandmother's old clothes, and seems to know everything about anything (although there are a couple instances where she clearly does not).
Luke is an aggressively male character; he lifts weights, chases after girls (who readily make out/flirt with him it seems), gets drunks, and seems to maintain the attitude of constantly trying to prove his manliness through very childish means.
Sunshine is an aggressive flirt who takes every movement, conversation, etc to her advantage to do EVERYTHING SHE POSSIBLY CAN TO SEEM SEXY. Seriously, Violet spent such an annoying amount of time commenting on how Violet turned just so or revealed just this much blah blah blah she's such a tease, that I wondered if Violet was attracted to women. Sunshine doesn't really seem to contribute any interesting conversation, just a diversion mechanism from the mysteries that seem to happen.
River is the devil. ...okay I'm not actually sure about that since I didn't finish reading the book. River has all the classic 'suave' devil signs and Violet spends time musing about her dead grandmother being obsessed with the devil in her later years.
Did you catch that I said that River rents out the guesthouse from Violet and Luke? So once upon a time the White family was very rich; so rich that they had a ridiculous mansion of sorts that also included a guesthouse. However, as the generations came and went, the newer generations didn't understand how to save or make money so they squandered their fortune. Violet and Luke's parents are in Europe for the book trying to find muses to paint; leaving Violet and Luke to scrounge up money for groceries and bills. They live in a giant mansion referred to as Citizen Kane (this could be a reference to something, again, ignorant of whatever culture here; I kept thinking about the Batman villain but what do I know). So there's that. There's also a lot of off-handed remarks about being from an 'eccentric rich family' and how the townsfolk might view them.
ALSO, SOMETHING THAT REALLY BOTHERS ME (AGGRESSIVE ENTHUSIASM). I could not go two or three pages without a mention of flirting, making out, kissing, or just something that had a lust nature to it. They hadn't gotten to the part where characters might have had sex, but the possibility for such a thing is VERY VERY high. I think I got whiplash from how much the author was like CLEARLY MY CHARACTERS ARE ALL GOING TO HAVE SEX AT SOME POINT, AREN'T YOU EXCITED?
...yeah. To say I was annoyed is an understatement.
To include making out/sex whatever in a novel should make sense for the character. It should be part of their development, growth, or nature to seek such relations. The problem I had with Violet was that she came off as very rigid about intimate relationships and was always condoning of Luke (who excessively made out with Sunshine and some girl in the proper town). Yet, within a day of River turning up she took a nap in his arms. Then snuck out of bed that night and slept with him (not sex, just sleeping). Um. What? Consistency is seriously awesome; OR a logical reaction to some crazy change. Not just, "Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy BUT WE'RE GOING TO SLEEP RIGHT NOW, TOGETHER, AWW YEAH". ....what.
I don't think I even got to the kind of plot of this book.
So when River comes to town there's suddenly some sort of supernatural weird stuff going on. He also is a constant liar. Violet is also very clearly in love with him but being like, "No, I'm not! Whatever! ...DON'T TOUCH HIM HE'S MINE." Yeah... Anyways, so Sunshine sees something weird in a tunnel that she visited with River and a little boy is convinced that the devil stole his sister.
I'm not going to go near what that is all about because I didn't find out before I stopped reading.
I'm pretty sure that was the plot of the book.
There are a lot of other things that happen, but none of it seems relevant to the plot. Like Violet just gets upset with Luke and may or may not hear the voice of her dead grandmother in her head. Luke just makes out with anything that moves it seems. Sunshine is hell bent on being mysterious, sexual, and out of it. River likes to lie. We kind of see them go through some different situations. None of it truly seems to matter.
Also, the author seemed to get really hung up on making sure the reader was aware that not only was River a good cook, but that all of her characters were fed at appropriate times in too much detail. Too many details in the wrong places. Too little details in the proper places.
I think I'm all out of rant now.
I like to think I give the author the benefit of the doubt and chug through a third of their book and try to suspend disbelief and enjoy the story.
That is all.