Honest and lively YA book reviews
If you want to retain any amount of your sanity, don't buy a house in the UK. I have been tackling this massive undertaking over the past month and I can tell you my friends, it's no picnic. Or in fact, it is a picnic. A picnic with giant, poisonous ants traipsing over all the food, staring daggers at you when you timidly try to shoo them away. The underwriters are the ants. I am the anxious picnic-participant. It's been one thing after another, culminating in my requiring a forklift truck in order to deliver the mountain of paper work that the bank requested. They wanted to see three different proofs of income, bank statements dated from when I was 6 months old, eight-four forms of photo ID, blood and urine samples and for me to take part in a pagan full-moon ritual in which sacrificing a baby goat was necessary. Okay, okay. I exaggerate (slightly) but there have been many hoops to leap through. Thankfully the end is in sight. I have chosen a beautiful apartment two streets from the park with countertops made of crushed diamonds and flooring I would kill a man for. Needless to say I can't wait to move.
So in light of the stress I've had piled on my head the past month, I opted for an easy read. Enter Teardrop by Lauren Kate. C'mon, I needed a good laugh. And laugh I did. This book is a hot mess of sexism, teenage angsting and foul romance.
Let's start with the plot. So the story goes that this chick, Eureka (I know! That goddam name!) has been grieving for a year (has it been a year? This seems to fluctuate to fit her mood) over the untimely death of her mother who was killed by a freak wave accident, of which Eureka miraculously survived. Naturally this gives Eureka the right to act like a complete bitch for the duration of the novel. Urgh. She discovers she has a stalker and then there's something about her best friend being possessed in order to mildly humiliate her. I don't know. The end culminates in her discovering her destiny and endangering the lives of her family and friends - exactly the way all great literary works should end. Right?!
The book is written in third person, with the reader being forced to follow Eureka around as she whines and bitches at anyone who comes into eyes sight. The girl is quite insufferable. Grief affects everyone in different ways. It's a very personal journey, and each individual must find a way to navigate it that suits them and that leads them to peace on a route they feel comfortable on. However ..... There are healthy and unhealthy ways to go about this. And the path that Eureka chooses to walk is really not a great way to deal with the situation. Her buddy Brooks hits the nail on this head:
“You keep Cat around because she doesn’t notice when you tune her out. You can’t stand anyone in your family...You’re certain every therapist you go to is an idiot. You’ve pushed away all of Evangeline because there’s no way anyone could ever understand what you’ve been through.” He stopped pacing and looked straight at her. “Then there’s me.”
Eureka’s chest ached as if he’d punched her in the heart. “What about you?”
“You use me.”
“I’m not your friend. I’m a sounding board for your anxiety and depression.”
This is our darling Eureka in a nutshell. She's vile. She's embarrassingly rude to her therapist, a woman only trying to help her. Although, her therapist is not without fault:
“You will wake up at forty with no husband, no children and no career if you don’t learn to engage with the world” she tells Eureka.
What the actual hell is that?! What kind of therapy is this?! Seems like the kind of place with a half burnt out, flashing neon sign out front, hand written card propped in the window stating that walk-ins are welcome, situated on some shady back street where knife crime is rife. Seems legit ..... I just feel like this is a most unacceptable way for a therapist to speak to a client. The way that Eureka's mental health was dealt with as a whole was completely unrealistic and at times, just plain wrong. I mean, the girl tried to kill herself obviously due to depression and yet the hospital had her roped down to a bed, kept her on a secure unit for a fortnight and then expected her family to shell out for mandatory counselling out of their own pocket. Do they not have insurance?! What's this all about?! There's still, even in this modern day and age, an appalling stigma attached to people suffering from mental health problems and Lauren Kate does nothing to quell this by creating a nightmare image of treatment of a suicide survivor with a diagnosis of depression. She's created a character who suffers exclusion due to her medical condition, who is isolated by her classmates because of her poor health. There are real people in the world who are afraid to get help for their problems because they are frightened by how their peers will treat them if this is discovered. Which is incredibly sad. So, Ms Kate why would you think it's alright to bolster this belief by making it the norm for a fictional character to suffer this same stigma?!
So, ham-fisted treatment of a girl suffering from a serious mental health problem aside, Eureka is just down right dull. There's nothing particularly likeable about her, she's just violently boring. She admits herself that she is little more than a ragdoll regarding the part she plays in her and Ander's relationship:
“Trust was mutual, and that was the problem with her and Ander. He held all the cards. Eureka’s role in the relationship seemed merely to be alarmed.”
And this is okay, is it?! Is it really alright to be so weak willed standing next to a boy that this is all the reaction and engagement that Eureka can muster - alarm?! What the fuck! What kind of a message is that to be sending to the teenaged readers this book is marketed towards. Hey girls - passivity is the way to go! Don't try and be a real human being with opinions and thoughts that matter, just stand there with your mouth hanging open and eyebrows raised. Boys love that! Please .....
I can tell you one reason Eureka finds plenty of opportunity to stamp her feet, pout and express herself loudly about - her family. She's vile towards them. Her father is one of the saddest characters in YA fiction and she basically treats him like shit. He's a weak, shell of a man with no substance, no back bone. He was clearly bullied by his late ex-wife, Eureka's mother and is now suffering the same treatment by her new wife Rhoda. He is unable to stand up for himself, appears to be working a job he finds stressful and unsatisfying and now has the burden of dealing with a moody, sullen teenager. He tries again and again to reach out to Eureka and she rewards him by pushing him away, sighing and stating over and over again how he doesn't understand. Actually, I should think he does understand. After all, he's also lost someone who meant something to him, who he was close to, who he cared about. Just because he wasn't still married to Eureka's mother doesn't mean he isn't mourning her death. And yet, Eureka offers not an ounce of respect or compassion in this and doesn't acknowledge his right to grieve. For shame, Eureka, for shame.
I also hate the way that Eureka feels it is acceptable to treat Rhoda. I know exactly what it's like trying to connect with your partners children from a previous marriage. It's not easy. Made all the more difficult by foul, disrespectful brats like Eureka. Rhoda has taken it upon herself to arrange Eureka's counselling sessions including paying for them, gives her untold freedom to run all over town with whomever she chooses, feeds her and clothes her and gives her a car and all Eureka does in return is figuratively spits in her eye and labels her stepmonster. Aargh! This girl makes me so angry! Rhoda doesn't have to do any of this shit for her, she's not her mother. She has no blood tie to her. But she does it anyway. She makes herself available on the phone at anytime Eureka needs to be scraped up off the tarmac, she trusts the crazy chick with her precious four year old twins, she offers her free college tuition for fuck's sake! What more does Eureka want from her?! I know, I know .... Eureka is grieving the loss of her mother. It's heartbreaking to lose someone so close and special to you. Truly traumatising. I don't think I would ever fully get over what Eureka has experienced. But .... This does not give her the right to treat everyone around her like crap! She's the most sour, ungrateful, repulsive bitch of a girl to grace the pages of YA in a long time.
And the romance (if I can it that) ain't much better. Ander is the stalker with a heart. And Brooks is the brain dead puppet of an evil underwater king of Atlantis. Both options sound like a great basis for a healthy, supportive and stable relationship, huh? What really gets me is that these chicks of YA never ask appropriate questions. If a guy rocked into my life and said he'd been watching me since I was born, knew everything about me and then proceeded to pop up everywhere including ramming into the back of my goddam car a la Ander, I'd want to know exactly who we was and what the fuck he thought he was playing at. I certainly would not be going all weak kneed looking into his dreamy turquoise eyes - barf! I just don't get it. We had this to a certain extent with The Daughter of Smoke and Bone - just because your ancestors were in love doesn't mean you have to be in love! Eureka falls for Ander because of some bizarre sense of duty almost, despite the fact that he is super creepy, disrespectful and completely incapable of explaining himself properly. I mean, where does he get off breaking into her home through her bedroom window? We're bordering on Edward of Twilight level stalker status here.
And the third side of the triangle of lurve, Brooks is barely worth a mention. He's supposed to be possessed, menacing and out to hurt Eureka at every turn. What he does manage to pull off is blunt honesty executed with a somewhat standoffish approach. Sounds frightening right? I know what my Halloween costume is going to be this year! Everyone will be terrified. Aside from this he's incredibly bland. He confesses his undying love for Eureka and her response was a ?! appearing over her head, in my imagination anyway. She literally had no other reaction to this information and yet seems to be deeply jealous when her mortal enemy Maya Cayce makes a move on him. "Mortal enemy?" I hear you ask, intrigued. "What has this girl done to earn this title?" Well, apparently "She was a senior, a roller skater, a rumored Wiccan, a transcender of all cliques, a contralto in the choir, a state-champion equestrian". Shock horror! What crimes! What atrocities! What an evil bitch! Seems to me the worst thing Maya has done is be pretty and poised, confident and popular, and fancy Eureka's friend who Eureka herself has no solid romantic feelings for. So I guess we can only assume that Eureka's extreme and completely uncalled for reaction towards this girl are born from jealousy. There's no other reason for her to be so vicious towards Maya, who in my eyes has done nothing wrong, aside from being a little big-headed.
You know what's a real shame about Teardrop? The fact that what could have been a pretty cool story due to the use of the original and imaginative mythology centring around the lost city of Atlantis, was totally diluted and drowned out by the pathetic and constant teen angsting spouting from Eureka:
“Eureka’s life was in chaos. She was on the brink of being kicked out of the house she hated living in. She hadn’t been going to school. She was alienated from all her friends and was following birds through the predawn bayou to meet elderly psychics.”
Right, let's get a few things straight - she was never on the brink of being kicked out of her home! and if she was it was her own doing. She missed school one time, literally. She went a long way to alienating herself from her friends. Yes, her school peers avoided her, unsure how to deal with her mental health issues but she actively pushed Cat away, ignoring her calls and shrugging her off when the mood took her. Eureka is always overdramatising everything. She's so intense. But there's no substance to anything she's bitching about. Why can't she just live her life?! She goes out of her way to make things difficult for herself and it's so frustrating. She doesn't learn from a single goddam thing that happens. She always finds someone else to blame for her bad behaviour. It's ridiculous.
The whole book was ridiculous. The stereotyping was atrocious. Every girl who wasn't our perfect, darling Eureka was a slut or a bitch. Girls were described as "arduously identical cheerleaders” or “never has she ever considered wearing pants that didn’t show her thong" and "never has she ever left the house without a pound of makeup.”. It's not okay for girls to treat each other like this. What gives Eureka the right to judge every girl who wanders by? Even her friend Cat is treated to a healthy dose of cliche and is turned into an over sexualised cartoon character. Why are these supporting characters always portrayed as the sexy friend?! I guess to create a contrast? Dunno. But I do know it just removes believability and sparks uncontrollable eye-rolling. I mean, Cat has a trunk load of spandex, heels and bandeau tops. She changes into a mini skirt in order to walk across the football field. Like, what?! She's just all about da boyz and it's really pathetic. At the end Cat just stands on the porch like a limp, wet dishrag. Jesus Cat, do something!
Speaking of the end ..... Uh wut?! Apparently the Volturi descended (remember our friends, the Volturi? Yeah, these villains were their underwater clones) and wreaked havoc. It was mightily lame. There was a bunch of revelations and I think Ander nearly died ..... It all culminated in Eureka kick-starting the apocalypse. I feel it was some pretty poor execution as it was over in a flash and to honest, I really just didn't give a shit. The resolution to the entire problem was epically crap.
I really can't be bothered to continue with this dire series. This review turned out super long. I finding ranting is very similar to eating Pringles. Once you start you just can't stop. But I really feel like I'm done with Lauren Kate now. Yeah, yeah. I've said that before but this time I mean it. We're through.
We'll I'm off to browse some catalogues. I've got so much shopping to do for my new apartment! Yay! I'd better start defrosting the credit cards haha. I keep them in the freezer to control my spending. Sad but necessary.
Ciao for now my friends!