Thursday, 19 March 2015

Finding Mr. Brightside by Jay Clark

Finding Mr. Brightside
Jay Clark
Henry Holt & Co.
[March 24, 2015]
ARC from publisher

Abram and Juliette know each other. They’ve lived down the street from each other their whole lives. But they don’t really know each other—at least, not until Juliette’s mom and Abram’s dad have a torrid affair that culminates in a deadly car crash. Sharing the same subdivision is uncomfortable, to say the least. They don’t speak.

Fast-forward to the neighborhood pharmacy, a few months later. Abram decides to say hello. Then he decides to invite her to Taco Bell. To her surprise as well as his, she agrees. And the real love story begins.

I was so intrigued by the premise of this book because I mean...come on. But it was really disappointing. I probably would have DNFed it if it wasn't such a quick read. There will be some spoilers in this, so beware!

One of the issues for me was the writing/voice. It wasn't bad, but it was really quirky and stylized to fit the characters, which is usually great, but the characters just kinda bugged me, so their voices did too. And I think one of the reasons they bugged me is because the voice and what was said about the characters were how we got to know their personalities, rather than through the character's talking themselves. It was told in alternating perspectives, but there was no set timeline for when we'd see one character or clear way of it being divided, so we'd just get these random snippets sometimes of one character explaining the other.

I was also kind of wary about the direction it took. Both characters are mentally scarred from what happened with their parents and both are taking medications to deal with it. Initially, I was worried the plot was going to have the whole love-saves-all thing and...it kind of did, but in a way that wasn't as irritating as it often is. Instead of love being the cure, it was more that they both cared and acted on that. Which...is better and a real alternative, but it still made love the central factor when these characters really should be figuring out for themselves what it'll take to get better.

The pacing was kind of all over the place as well. It seems to take place over a couple of weeks in the first half, then all in one weekend until the last two or three chapters. For me, the book felt imbalanced because of that. I either needed smoother pacing or more book.

Overall, this wasn't a memorable read. I wouldn't say it's bad because there were aspects to like about it! The side characters were good and Juliette was wonderfully snarky at times. They both kind of reminded me of more neurotic versions of April and Andy's relationship on Parks and Rec (at least, based on the gifs I've seen on tumblr) so it had some great moments. But it just...could've been so much more. And I wish it was. I'd recommend this as a library check out, personally.

--Julie

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