Published by HarperTeen on May 15, 2018
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Edelweiss
Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.
Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.
Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .
I feel like I am moderately black sheeping on this book, because I have seen a ton of positive reviews on Goodreads so far. And mine will be… well, less so. Look, it wasn’t all bad or anything, so that’s good. And since a lot of people really gushed over it, there’s a strong chance you will too! Let’s break down the good versus the not so good, as you do.
What I Liked:
- It’s a super quick read. And it isn’t even a short book, it’s just very readable. I was certainly curious enough to keep reading, and I finished in just a couple hours, so that’s a plus. Who doesn’t like when a book compels them to keep going, right?
- It is all about fangirling over an author! We can probably all relate to the feeling of being positively in awe of an author, and this book takes it one step further- not only do the girls get to meet their favorite author, but they get to become friends with her too. Which is a good reminder to us all that putting people on a pedestal is probably a bad idea in the long run.
- The format is a mixed-media situation, told via interviews, journal entries, even excerpts from Fatima’s book. I really liked the variety- and I hope that the problems I had with it (more below!) won’t be an issue in a finished copy!
What I Didn’t:
- I could not for the life of me distinguish among the characters. And in the mixed-media format, the headings were… not always helpful. There was one section where I seriously had NO idea which character was supposed to be “narrating” at the time. None. But even when it was clear, it really didn’t matter because they all felt pretty similar to me regardless. You have three young, spoiled women with very little in the way of personality. By the end I kind of liked Penny (I think?) because she seemed to have a bit of growth, but that was the extent of my connection to the characters. The thing is, I am supposed to be feeling for them, that their story was used, that they were used, without their consent. But while I get that it was a crappy thing for Fatima to do, I can only empathize on a very basic level.
- The twists were super predictable for me. Like basically all of them? I can live with it if I can guess one or two, but when I feel like I already know the whole outcome… what’s even the point?
- I have super mixed feelings about the whole “copying their story for a book” thing. Like on one hand… get your own material, Fatima. That was annoying in the sense that she didn’t even seem to try to hide their identities? She was almost glib in the way she betrayed them, which… why? Why not, if you’re some prodigy author, not even make an attempt to make the story even a *little* different? Seems… fake. I understand why the characters were pissed, but I also don’t fully understand Fatima’s motivation in the first place. But then on the other hand, okay, she sucks, but… move on? The reason they *didn’t* move on also seemed a bit farfetched. For the sake of spoilers, I’m being purposely vague. But the Jonah bit… Look, what happened was shitty, don’t get me wrong. But what happened happened, and someone likely would have found out regardless of if Fatima had written about it. It’s the age of the internet for goodness sake, no story stays hidden forever. So wallowing in this event for so long seemed kind of unrealistic too- especially since the girls didn’t even bear the brunt of the fallout.
- The ending was so anticlimactic I don’t even know what to say. Especially in the case of a mystery/thriller, it ended and I was sure that my Kindle was mistaken, because that can’t be it, right? Oh just kidding, that was totally it, and I won’t get those 432 pages of my life back.
Bottom Line: While a quick, addicting sort of read, no connection to either the characters or their problems made this a lackluster read for me.
Ohhh no, I have this one to read soon.?I’m kind of nervous, because I’ve heard a TON of mixed things…and while I really like the premise, it’s got to be done well!! And I’m hoping it’ll be a comparative title for a book I’ve written recently, but eep. ?? We’ll see. That’s really annoying about the messed up formatting too?! Like I hate being confused. I hope my ARC is kind to my poor weary brain. (Also I just spelled “brain” like “brean” so you know how bad it is right now.?)
Some people seem to REALLY love it! And I loved the idea of it. The execution just… it didn’t work for me. But it might for you! (I am really wanting it to because of the comp title thing!) Is yours a physical ARC? Because those seemed okay from what I have read of other people’s reviews. This was just weird because some of the headings weren’t really any different from the regular text so I would miss them until I went back and such. I hope that your brean or brain or whoever has a MUCH better time- you have to tell me what you think though, I know you don’t do negative reviews now but I mean, you can snark in a DM right? ?
DMs I can definitely do. ? (I swear it’s so hard not to write salty reviews anymore. I’M DYING HERE.?)
Ooh, that’s disappointing to hear. I’ve really been looking forward to this book! I’m curious if I might like it more, though, because I am notoriously horrible at predicting even the most cliché of twists. xD But I hate, hate, hate not being able to empathize with characters, so that will probably be an issue.
If you’re looking to recover from this horrible mystery, you might enjoy “Jane the Virgin.” Some of its twists are obvious, but others totally hit you out of nowhere. It’s a great, fluffy, shocking show.
You might have better luck! I mean a lot of people did really like it- so I think I might be in the minority here (it seems that people have either really loved it or… well, really not haha). The characters ARE a little blah though, hopefully you’ll be able to connect to them a bit more!
OOOH you know, you reminded me that I DO need to catch up on Jane! I haven’t watched the most recent season, but I really should! Thanks for that!! 😀
I’m always the one who doesn’t like a book everyone loves– or loves a book everyone hated!!! I haven’t even heard of this book, so I guess I’m just out of the loop now. I love mixed-media books & fast reads– but this sounds kind of MEH. I am getting more into Adult lately, so I won’t totally dismiss it from my list.
LOL maybe this isn’t Adult and I just thought it sounded like it was. HAHA. I should probably look at that before I type it out!!
It’s actually YA! But… yeah, as much as I loved the idea and premise, it just didn’t work for me unfortunately. And I was getting pretty mad at the characters hahah.
I am sorry this one didn’t work out for you. I do find it hard to read a book that is super predictable, I easily get bored and then stop reading it. Great review!
Thanks so much! And I agree, predictable books are tough to keep reading!
This makes me really sad, because I am planning on reading this soon. –sigh– Your pros sound good, but I am fretting the ending. That’s a huge thing for me.
I hope that you have better luck with it! I have seen a lot of 4-5 stars on Goodreads though, so it just might be a personal thing!
YUP YUP YUP. You already know I agree with you on this one. It was compulsively readable, but still so predictable. And I did not like any of the characters. Just… ugh.
Ha YEP, it’s so funny that we really felt the same! I didn’t like the characters either, especially since they all felt like one boring girl, I couldn’t even differentiate half the time!
Oh I’m so sorry you didn’t love this one too much, Shannon! I read it as well and I personally loved it – I appreciated the formatting a lot and didn’t predict everything of the story, so it made it enjoyable for me, but I understand where your frustration comes from. I hope that your next read will be better! 😀 <3
I’ve only heard good things about this one as well so it was great to hear your thoughts on it Shannon! It’s annoying when you can’t tell who the perspective is coming from and the characters all seem to merge together after a while. Lovely review Shannon!
I do love mysteries, but that’s always a bummer when you can guess every single twist or reveal, and you don’t even really care about the characters anyway. I like the mixed media format though, so this may be one of those library reads someday. We’ll see!
Oh no! Glad I didn’t pick this one up!!