The Summer I Turned Pretty
By Jenny Han
Let's be frank here: This book was crap. Garbage, junk, crap, crap, crap. Barely finished it, barely cared about it crap. Sorry to Jenny Han, but your book sucked.
Let's start with the characters. The protagonist, Belly (stupid name. Stop trying too hard to be unique) was fine. Stupid and annoying, but fine. I had one problem: I didn't understand her at all. Not like I couldn't connect to her--no like, I couldn't freaking understand what she was saying! First, she says that she waits all year to go to the summer house, that it was the highlight of her year. But then she spent the whole book complaining about the summer house. She complained about how mean and distant Conrad was. She complained about her mother. She complained about how Conrad, Steven, and Jeremiah always left her out. If this is the highlight of her year, I feel pretty bad for this girl.
Conrad himself was awful. I couldn't understand why anyone would love him, even for a minute, let alone the years and years and years that Belly was obsessed with him. He was cranky and withdrawn. He was right out mean to Belly again and again and again. I just hated him.
Jeremiah was okay. Better than the other two, but still pretty generic. He was funny and sweet, but he was also a player. I almost wanted him and Belly together, but then he'd go and hit on some girl, and I would just hate him. I liked the bond he had with Belly. But overall he was just a mildly interesting character that would be utterly forgettable in any good book.
Cam was fine. Barely worth mentioning. Steven needs to die, along with Taylor. I loved Susannah, but her supposed secret was so freaking obvious from the first page. Susannah said Belly had a great mom, but I never saw why.
With crap characters like that, it didn't take much make this book crack.
Let me just say, I'm not categorically opposed to summer books. That wasn't the issue. Summer is a cliche, sure, a tried but true plot device. I can see why authors like it so much. They don't have to deal with the daily details of school. They don't have to deal with responsibilities or rules. There is a freeness to summer, a ubiquity to it. YA authors in particular love summer, because they think it is some grand coming of age thing, like one summer can change your whole life. If your Sarah Dessen you can do this. If you're Jenny Han, apparently, you cannot.
So, the whole summer thing sucked. Then there was the stupid freaking love triangle/square. When I read the blurb on the back of the book, I assumed she'd end up with Jeremiah. But then the book didn't seem to be going that way. I was very confused. Who was I supposed to be rooting for?
It bothers me when books do that. I read a book last summer called Loathing Lola, by William Kostakis. The main character had a male best friend, Tom. You know what that means.
Female Protagonist + Straight Male Best Friend = LOVE
So for the whole freaking book I kept pulling for them, even when it seemed less and less likely they would end up together. Then, she ended up with some other guy I had largely been ignoring because I was so focused on the male best friend. I was very frustrated with that book. And I was very frustrated with this book. When a girl has been in love with a guy forever, and you say from practically the first page that he is a complete JERK, they don't end up together. I assumed that much was true. I thought she'd up the alternative guy who was there all along, who she didn't notice until she gave up on dream boy. Jeremiah seemed like a perfect candidate for that role. But then we went on a total detour to Cam-land, which produced nothing of any use. And then she didn't really end up with anyone in the end! There was a hell of a lot of discussion of love, but now actual lovin'. And there was not heat. No chemistry. Zip. Zada. Zilch. Nothing but crap.
So, to summarize, this book was crap. Crappy characters. Crappy plot. Crappy title (what kind of title is that--The Summer I Turned Pretty??? Superficial much???). Harsh I know. No offence to Ms. Han. I'm sure you're a lovely person. And I've read good reviews of your book (which is why I bought it in the first place!). But I'm done with this crap.
P.S. That last part there was just me feeling bad for writing such a mean review
P.P.S. Sorry for all the crass language. I get kind of carried away...