“Royally Lost”

I am not a very good book reviewer. I like most of the books I read, making for an overwhelmingly positive batch of reviews. It’s hard for me to pick apart a book that I like, searching for aspects that could be improved. And in that rare occasion that I really don’t like a book, I try to find the good in it, and then end up writing a pretty positive review.

Not this time. “Royally Lost” by Angie Stanton had the makings of a really cutesie, funny summer read. I say it had the makings, because it is truly the most absurd thing I’ve ever read. Let’s start with the easy stuff, what’s essentially on the back cover: Becca, the main character.

Please, put yourself in her position. You’ve just graduated high school, your loser boyfriend dumped you and you’re facing your last summer of childhood. Kind of a bummer, right? But then your dad and stepmom surprise you with a European cruise along the Danube, visiting a different city each day. Your first trip to Europe! Awesome, right? NOT IF YOU’RE BECCA AND YOU’RE A SPOILED LITTLE WHINY THING WHO IS INCAPABLE OF GRASPING THE AWESOMENESS OF EUROPE. I mean, she whines about her horrible dad for making her go to Europe. I’m sorry, making you go?????? Hello, that’s incredible and you are rude. So that aspect of her character was really hard for me to get past, if you didn’t realize. It would have been easier to accept her reluctance if I understood where it was coming from. There was very little background information given, not many explanations of her behavior. There was some evidence of a disconnect between her and her father, and there was definitely some deeper family issues there, but none that warranted the snobbery this girl positively oozed. I wish there had been more depth to her, more understanding.

And then she meets a dude, and she’s all Oh, I guess Europe isn’t too bad because now I have a to boy to take up my time. I am offended. She is blatantly honest, especially in her disapproval of the Continent. And Nikolai, the guy she meets, who also — what do ya know — happens to be a European prince, eats up this Europe-hating behavior like it’s cute or something. I’m sorry, but no matter how much your family and history bothers you, there’s no way her obvious boredom with Europe wouldn’t annoy his princeliness, even just a little.

Plot holes and character weaknesses aside, the writing left much wanting. The first thing you learn in any writing class — creative, news, nonfiction, whatever — is to show not tell. Show us how your character is feeling, don’t write “she was feeling sad today because it was raining.” That’s lazy and boring. Show us through dialogue and setting and metaphor. Just show us.

And another random thing about “Royally Lost” is that it’s quite overwritten, like Stanton was trying so hard to sound realistic that everything, dialogue especially, sounds fake.

I love Europe so much and am dying to go back, so it would be hard for me not to dislike a girl who is so vocally ungrateful for the opportunity to travel. That being said, I read reviews on Goodreads to see how other people felt, and many of them seemed to feel the same as me. Some didn’t, of course, but I am not alone in my distaste for Becca and “Royally Lost.”

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“If I Stay” & “Where She Went”

For my latest installment of my summer reading list, I read Gayle Forman’s “If I Stay” and “Where She Went.” These books have been on my radar for a few years now; they’re the kind of books that frequent young adult readers just 6990472know about, like “The Fault in Our Stars” or “Speak.” They’re also the kinds of books that you should probably read if you haven’t already. But I never wanted to read them. I knew how sad they were — like next level sad — and I just didn’t want to go there.

But then the movie trailer for “If I Stay” was released, and I didn’t want to watch it without having read the book, and I’m a bandwagonner, so I did the thing and read it.

And let me tell you, I am not ok. “If I Stay” made me feel everything, and it made me nervous and sad and anxious, but also hopeful. It made me question my choices and made me aware of my good fortune and how easily that can be lost. I was kind of mad after I read it, because it caused such a vivid and real 8492825reaction and made me despondent.

But then I read “Where She Went” and it was like Forman answered all the questions “If I Stay” made me ask myself. It offered the best kind of closure: one in which you don’t forget your pain, but you make peace with it and are able to move on and be happy.

So if you’re interested in an emotional tsunami, read Forman’s books. They’re all so great. SO great.

Summer Reading List 2014: Plans and ‘The Selection’ Series

It freaks me out that it’s been so long since I last posted. I am THE WORST. I had a lot of great plans for the summer and the blog, like my first BEA and meeting authors and all that jazz, but then I was like BEA is expensive and my bank account frequently falls to $32.15 so I think I should save that one for when I’m like a real adult, ya know.

To remedy my failed summer blogging plans, I’ve cooked up a couple other options. Politics and Prose is one of my local indie bookstore, located in Washington, DC. They often do free book and author events, so my plan is to cover some of those on the blog (probably only the authors of interest to us). My other plan is to document every book and/or series I’ve read this summer. So let’s start with that one:

I finished Kiera Cass’ “The Selection,” “The Elite,” and “The One” in the first One_finaltwo days of summer vacation. The speed-reading process was a bit different for me this time, because I read each book on my e-reader, which I am pretty sure makes it easier to read super fast.

So I sped through those books, and I am still not sure how I feel about them, especially “The One.” I know that practically everyone loves this series, but to me, they felt a bit cramped. I love the premise of the selection and I really liked America, Maxon, Aspen, the maids, May, Celeste, Marlee, etc. but I don’t think Cass did all that she could have done with the story. I mean, they were really short books and she is incredibly one-sided in that she solely focused on the selection, when she totally could have delved into the whole rebel storyline. There could definitely be a 6-book series about the aftermath of the selection, the revolution and the destruction of the caste system. And the romance and evolution of America and Maxon’s relationship would add such a nice balance (and I would really like to read more).

But instead, Cass slammed the rebel attack, Maxon and America making up and getting married and the plans to get rd of the castes all in like 20 pages. It just felt so rushed and minimal.

Those are really my only complaints; just give me more. Other than that, I really liked the series!

My next book is Gayle Forman’s “If I Stay,” which I am halfway through and already dead inside. So that’s cool.