Author: Michele Bacon
Genre: YA Contemporary
Release Date: April 3rd 2018 from Sky Pony Press
Format: PDF ARC
DNF AT 60 PAGES
I received this book through the publisher for a blog tour. I read about the synopsis being set in New Zealand when tour sign ups began and I was so excited. My husband’s dad lived in New Zealand for two years many years ago and I love hearing his stories of when he lived there. Plus I have been getting into contemporaries more so I thought this would be a good pick? Nope…not at all.
This follows Erin, a girl whose parents are always trying to make her look special on college applications and she also had broken up with her boyfriend before going to New Zealand to study abroad for the summer. There she starts living with a host family and it goes back and forth between her current time in New Zealand and then some chapters go back to before she left. Erin is an extremely unlikable character; she hates the idea of going to New Zealand, judges everyone, is rude and stand offish to people and is very ungrateful for anything her host family does for her. This is what made me DNF this book; I understand that a teenager doesn’t want to go somewhere and doesn’t react the greatest to what people do for them. I also get that her parents are strict and she doesn’t get to do a ton of things by her own choice.
But I felt like the anger towards her host family is completely uncalled for. They never make her do anything and they give her space and a good portion of things to help meet her needs, even though they’re not high quality. Since they’re so giving to her, I’m surprised that their kindness didn’t affect her. If her parents so strict and didn’t let her do much and then she stays with people who are the opposite, shouldn’t that make her pause? I was shocked that she couldn’t notice the difference and then stop and think for one second. I also didn’t like how she looked down upon how the people in New Zealand talked and the clothes they wore. Hearing her nitpick everything about them in a cruel way was also another factor that turned me off. She had no reason to be so cruel to these great people and it made me wonder: is there anything else to her personality that could help me understand her better? The answer is a blatant NO.
I also found this book to be the most repetitive book I’ve ever read. With the 60 pages I read, every single chapter repeated the same topic: She doesn’t want to go, three sections talking about her packing to leave, hating the lower quality things she gets in her new place, how weird the people are, being mad that her boyfriend is now hanging out with a new girl…every chapter repeats these things without making the plot move forward. Reading the same three flashback scenes of her packing to leave, even with small changes, made me wonder why the author thought these were important. All of these things combined a bad reading experience with me and I couldn’t read more. People say that Erin evolves as a character later, but I’m sorry but 60 pages of repeating the same topic and enduring an insufferable girl with nothing but mean things to say and nothing else to her? No thanks.
I’m also adding this final note that this is written in first person present tense POV. I can’t stand that SO many YA books have this perspective and one more POV just broke my patience. I do want to do a discussion topic on this, so if anyone is interested, let me know in the comments. But this first person just made her sound juvenile, uninteresting and way too cruel to even root for. I don’t think I’ll try anything else by this author.
Have you read this book or heard of it? Do you know of other books set in New Zealand that you would recommend?