Even though I kept my review for the first book in this series fairly spoiler free, the rest of the reviews will probably have a least a few spoilers, so read with caution.
Before I get into what I did and didn’t like about this book, I have two things to tell you.
The first thing has nothing to do with the actual story but kind of has to do with the book, and I’m emotionally scarred so you have to be too. I bought this book used. I buy most of my books used. I rarely find anything in the books I buy, and if I do find something, chances are it’s a bookmark. I’ve never found anything really memorable in a used book. Until now. I was about a hundred pages from the end of the when I flipped the page and more than ten very long, curly, black hairs fell out of the book. My hair is short, straight, and ginger. I don’t even live with anyone who has hair similar to this. A stranger’s hairs seemed to be tucked into the book. Obviously this doesn’t change my rating of the book, I just thought it was particularly horrible.
The second thing has more to do with the actually story. I bought the first four books of this series in a box set, and I assumed that this box set had the books in order. Every other book box set I’ve ever bought-even the used ones-has had all the books in order, and I didn’t think to check this one. So I picked up the second book in the box.
I was a little confused that there seemed to be things that happened that I hadn’t read about, but I thought that maybe this was just a series where a lot of things happened in between books, and maybe all of the missing details would be filled in through backstory! I got fifty pages into it before I realized that it was the third book and not the second.
I am not proud of this, but it is funny.
After I actually started reading the right book it made a lot more sense.
There is far too much exposition in this book. This series is really long, so if the author decided to remind the readers of obscure details that happened several books back, that would make sense. That would be helpful because chances are people won’t remember the obscure little details from five or ten books back. But this was the second book. There were pages of exposition. Some of it was just repeating the exposition from the first book. She didn’t just limit herself to small details that were very briefly mentioned that people probably forgot, the author retold entire scenes that were very prominent and long in the first book.
I think this is why it took me so long to realize that I was reading the third book. Like I said before, I thought that this was just one of those series where each book takes place weeks or months after the book before it. People had broken up, and suddenly a certain character had committed suicide, but there was so much exposition that I thought this must have been the first it was mentioned. It’s kind of irritating to read through all of it, because I remember how Hannah first became bulimic. It’s a pretty big plot point. I’m not just going to forget it. Retelling the entire thing just bogs down the story. In this book there was already so much stuff about The Jenna Thing, you don’t have to throw in huge parts of the first book.
I don’t even know if all of this exposition would be necessary in the later books. Obviously, like I said before, obscure details, but if the later books are trying to finish the story, and also remind you of the last ten books, how’s it going to read? I read ten books between reading the first and second book, and I didn’t forget things. I don’t know. At this rate, it seems like the last book will be all exposition.
I know that this complaint is fairly minor compared to some of the other things I’ve complained about in reviews, but, like my amp/bassist rant in my review of The Rules, this is a me thing, and I can’t not bring it up.
Spencer says that Wren likes the same indie bands that she does. The only band they mentioned both liking was Radiohead. Radiohead isn’t an indie band. This book came out the same year as In Rainbows. Radiohead wasn’t even slightly an indie band in 2007. Perhaps they could be referring to a different band as their indie band, one that they didn’t mention before, but the author mentions quite a few different musical artists through this book, so you’d think if Spencer and Wren both liked another band she would have mentioned it.
Also, instead of mentioning the brand of clothes that everyone wears, why not mention all the bands they like? You can learn a lot more about someone by knowing what bands they listen to than you would if you knew what designer made their shoes.
Remember how I said, in my review of the first book in this series, that I wanted there to be less brand names as things got more serious? Things obviously haven’t gotten too serious yet, but they’re getting worse, and there are still a lot of brand names. I’m only on book two, so there’s still a long way to go, I was just hoping maybe there would be a little bit of a difference.
Since I picked up the third book instead of the second, I did accidentally read some serious spoilers. I wouldn’t say that they ruined this book, but it did take a lot of the shock out of some of the things that happened. Like Toby’s suicide. I wasn’t surprised, but I had read the spoilers. I probably would have been if I hadn’t seen the spoilers. I’ve been watching the tv series on Netflix, and Toby seems to survive a lot longer there.
I can’t remember if I mentioned in my last review, but I don’t think I’m really in the target audience for this book. I mainly read YA books, and I’ve been getting more into mysteries and thrillers lately, so I’m not entirely out of the target audience, but I’ve said before that I’m nothing like these characters, and I just don’t think I’m really in the target audience.
I considered doing a semi-ironic playlist for this, but I couldn’t think of anything to put on it.
But I won’t leave you entirely without music.
While I was reading this, I had three lines from the chorus of the Blur song “There’s No Other Way” stuck in my head on a loop for about four hours. I wouldn’t recommend doing that purposefully, but it’s accurate for my experience of reading the book.
I’m giving this book two out of three stars. Because I intend to finish the series, I just don’t like it that much.