Posts Tagged ‘unrealistic in spots’

This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

It was one of those books sitting on the TBR mountains. It was on top, so I grabbed it – and lo and behold, check out that description on the back cover. “Rock star sex-god.”

It is a book called It’s Not You It’s Me, and it’s an entry into the Red Dress Ink line. Which means chick lit, complete with sorta-hapless female and a happy ending. There is, of course, more to it than that.

Charlie is our main character – short for Charlotte – and she’s been adrift since the time she spent living with Jasper Ash. She fell for him, but it was complicated. And ugly. And something she never got over.

So when she happens to run into him, thanks to a bonk on the head in an airplane, she invites him on a holiday tour booked for her by the cool, calm, and collected woman in her chick lit life. Kath and her husband Mark are, in a chick lit twist, new parents, but they are the chick lit parent to Charlie, as well.

While Charlie and Jas gallivant around Germany on a beer-swigging tour, they rekindle their friendship. Both, of course, have secrets, big ones that they are keeping from each other. It takes a reveal of Jas’ status as rock god Zamiel – think Davie Bowie gone death metal with a healthy dose of Marilyn Manson thrown in for good measure – before the secrets are revealed and we’ve got our happy ending.

Aww, come on. That’s hardly a spoiler. This is the sort of book you pick up because you want that happy ending. The fun of the read is in how they get there.

And it’s a fun read. But is it Rock Fiction?

Kinda sorta not really maybe.

The key with Rock Fiction is that the tie-in has to be believable. And when fan girl Sharon sells Jas out and the media shows up outside their hotel room, causing Jas to call in bodyguards he (conveniently) has worked with before and who are (conveniently) available, their mad dash to safety is real enough. Maybe the aftermath is a bit breezy – no one dug too far into Charlie’s identity, but then again, this was merely a plot device. Believable? If you don’t think too much.

And that’s why we hit only kinda sorta. Jas’ career is a plot device. He couldn’t be in this situation, with the media outside threatening to reveal him, if he were a quiet, unassuming banker, unless he was a quiet, unassuming banker with a big, ugly secret. And if that were the case, he wouldn’t be free to traipse around Europe incognito.

But outside of the few trappings of fame – both the good and the bad – and the fun karaoke scene, Jas could be a quiet, unassuming banker. He’s a nice guy. He doesn’t have that over-the-top charisma that the successful ones possess, and that Rock Fiction hinges upon. It peeks out once or twice, but once or twice isn’t enough. Yet on the flip side, one of Jas’s secrets explains that he just might be successful while continuing to hide from the public eye.

Still, he lacks that charisma that a truly talented artist possesses. So does Charlie, our sculptor should-be. And while the story hinges on why she hides her art, since we’re allowed into her point of view, we should see that same charisma that brands her as an artist.

Overall, yeah, this one’s worth reading. Just don’t expect the Rock to rock that hard.

This review was originally posted at West of Mars. It is being posted here, at its new permanent home.

I can’t even remember where or when I heard about Gayle Forman’s Where She Went. It is the sequel to If I Stay, which seems to have been a pretty important book, given the way people talk about it.

If I Stay wasn’t Rock Fiction. Or it didn’t seem to be from its description. But Where She Went? Let’s see: Adam Wilde is a rock star and Mia is a rising star on the cello.
While I call the genre Rock Fiction, I never insisted that every musical angle be rock and roll. It’s just got to be about music. And let’s face it: Rock Fiction sounds way better than Music Fiction. That makes this a double-header, right?

Not so fast. First, let’s talk about the story. Adam is our leading man. When the book opens, he’s wallowing in some sort of pity party and grief all rolled up into one pathetic, medicated package of angst and cliché. He is all but impossible to like.

Then, on a self-destruction escapade, he runs into Mia. Wow, what a coincidence! And she invites him back into her life even though she’d walked out on him years before. Nevermind that it was part of some sick promise he’d made without really meaning it and has never been able to get past.

And what do you know, but she’s headed out on a farewell tour of all her private haunts around New York, so she brings Adam along. It’s like someone flips a switch of his Xanax has finally kicked in because he is suddenly bearable.

I wanted to stop and ask him if he was serious. All this over a girl?

Yup. His entire world revolves around Mia. Her life revolves around herself and her need to escape her past. Which, of course, includes Adam. And, of course, can’t be run away from.

Definitely not a plotline that I’m excited to explore. The Adam in the beginning almost made me put the book down – there’s little I hate more than pathetic characters, and Adam is the most pathetic I’ve seen in a long time. But Mia? I didn’t like her, either. She dominates, dragging Adam around the city but still keeping her secrets, like they are the only glue holding them together. She comes off as controlling and manipulative, but everyone around her acts like she’s more fragile than a robin’s egg.

Okay, so I don’t have to like a book to be able to view it as Rock Fiction. This book is Rock Fiction from the get-go. Part of Adam’s misery has pushed him to the point where he is ready to quit his band. He hates them, and it seems like they hate him back. But, of course, he’s the sole reason for their success, so they’re all stuck with each other. Except that Adam stays in a separate hotel and travels separately, but they’re all bothered by the fact that interviewers want only Adam and not anyone else in the band. How they all missed the fact that the media fixates on one member of a band—usually the frontman—and why their publicist didn’t prep them, or why the band didn’t choose another spokesman… it makes no sense. It’s a plot device, not something terribly realistic. Not to mention the interviewer who refuses to respect the rules. Hello? Think she’d have a job after word of that got out? Assuming she got past the first question and some security dude or band employee didn’t escort her out from the get-go.

Even though the book is about Adam and his relationship with his band in the early pages, it’s not until late in the book that this feels like Rock Fiction, even though we see glimpses of Adam’s rock and roll lifestyle all along. It just doesn’t ring true. The band’s success is too fast, too meteoric, too easy, but at the same time, there’s the usual fictional contradiction of the really recognizable rocker who walks around New York City without a bodyguard, and the few people who do recognize Adam keep their distance.

What about Mia, the cellist? There’s no music in her, or very little even though we’re told the opposite. While we may see the musical side of Mia onstage, as soon as she puts her bow down, she’s just another prima donna with an overly inflated sense of self, even if that sense of self is projected onto her.

Overall, this wasn’t my favorite. Far from it. This is more of a book about angst and love and connecting and being down than it is Rock Fiction, even though music seems to be such a strong factor shaping the characters. It never stops seeming like a strong factor. It never crosses the line into being.

On to the next.