Showing posts with label Rainbow Rowell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Rainbow Rowell. Show all posts

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Rating: WARTY!

This was a wildly optimistic audio book experiment given that I'd already tried Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl and DNF'd it because it was an unmitigated disaster. I found myself forced to adopt the same approach here because this was simply not getting it done. Essentially it's a bit of a rip-off of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan which was published in 2006 and is a much better read.

Rowell seems to be an uninventive writer who loves to tell rather than show, and who seems to think that stereotypes are daring. No, they're really not, but they do win awards evidently, which is probably why I'll never win one. The first problem is that the basic story is antique: a boy and a girl hate each other, but fall in love? Been there done that to death.

The second problem with this is that it's written as dual narratives which suck. The only kind thing I can say about that was that at least it wasn't in first person. The third problem is that the author doesn't even pretend she can write such a novel about modern youth, so she sets this in the eighties so she can write it about her own youth. Yawn.

The chapters are all called either 'Eleanor' or 'Park' and each is read by one of the two readers: Rebecca Lowman and Sunil Malhotra, and they lay out the perspective from the PoV of each main character so the author can tell you rather than show you what's happening. They meet on a school bus which is populated with stereotypes: jocks, cheerleaders, nerds, and so on. It's painfully tedious; there's nothing new, and I cannot commend it. I'm permanently off reading anything further by this author.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Rating: WARTY!

This novel was beyond awful; I'd even go so far as to say that it was something John Green would be proud of. Oh, wait, he was! I actually read this some time ago, but must have blanked it out until I got reminded recently that I never posted a review for this.

Cather and Rine are twins who don't even get their own name. If 'it' was a girl she would have been named Catherine, but 'it' was twin girls, so Mom, who is no longer on the scene, split the name. Listening to this on the audio book, I thought the sister's name was 'Ren' because of the way the reader pronounced it. It took a while to make sense of it. I see some reviewers have rendered her name as Wren, so maybe that's how it was in the print book. In the audio version, you can't tell. Cather, who likes to be called Cath, is the eponymous fangirl. She writes popular fan fiction about Simon Snow - who is a direct rip-off of Harry Potter, if Potter had been gay or bi, and had a relationship going with Malfoy (a topic which actually is the subject of fanfiction, believe it or not).

The problem is that Cath has the mentality and outlook of a middle-grader, and she is lost without A). her sister, and B). her fan fiction. Now they're going to college, without any warning whatsoever, Ren has chosen to put away childish things and embrace adulthood. For her this means staying not only in a different room at college, but also in a different dorm. Essentially, she ditches her own sister, leaving Cath lost and adrift. I'm tempted to call her a bitch, but in that, she's really no different from Cath. They're both the same underneath their respective veneer of civilization. They're like positive and negative terminals and both are equally lost in college. So Cath has only Simon Snow to cling to, and she's racing to finish her novel length fanfiction before the next installment of the actual Simon Snow series gets published. She has a lot of fans. Why, I don't know, because her writing is as stereotypically crappy as fan fiction is supposed to be and all-too-often-but-not-always, is.

After getting through about twenty percent of this, I had no interest in reading about either of these two loser twins. They were clich├ęd and boring as all-get-out. The person I wanted to read about was Cath's roommate, Reagan (who ought to have been president instead of the actual Reagan! LOL!), but I was denied that except in too-brief glimpses. Instead, what I got was Cath and her roommate's obnoxious boyfriend Zither (or whatever the hell this jerk-off's name was), who had no respect whatsoever for Cath, whom he played like a Zither.

As one prescient reviewer observed, Cath was thirteen for all practical purposes, and he was in his twenties, so this relationship was creepy at best. He constantly took advantage of her and invaded her space. He stole things from her. He occupied her bed like it was Wall Street. He was always there. He flatly refused to call her by the name she wanted to be known by: Cath. He forced his way into her room when she had told him "No!" more than once. She didn't want him around, but because he was raping her incrementally, he was allowed, by this author (who apparently thinks that no means you have to be more forceful) to have his way with her. Instead of being dependent upon her sister, Cath became dependent upon him. How that was supposed to represent an improvement in her condition, I don't know. But at least someone now owned her, so I guess this author thought that was fine.

There were huge screeds of Simon Snow fanfic in this volume, all of which I skipped when I realized how godawful it truly was. The novel would be about fifty percent smaller without it. I'm guessing the author was hoping for a comic book series based on Simon Snow. It's not going to happen. At least not through any writer who has any self-respect. The main character was thoroughly unlikeable, as was her twin. Cath was a spineless uninteresting juvenile who had no redeeming qualities. Her self-appointed overlord was even worse. The novel was out-and-out awful, and I refuse to even consider recommending it.