Sunday, December 14, 2008

You Know Where To Find Me by Rachel Cohn

Uh... Okay, how do I put this? No idea.

How do I reenact this? Well, first we get an emoticon: o_O. Steam blowing from the side to indicate mental exertion? Optional. Whatever you call that sound you make when you’re blowing spit bubbles, playing in the background? MANDATORY.

(Shakespeare would’ve been proud.)

In the interest of brevity—I don’t want to spend more time thinking about this one than I have to—I’ll summarize the plot in a couple of sentences:

Cousins Miles Pudgy and Laura Perfect were raised like sisters, but a falling out a couple of years prior prevented Miles from realizing the emotional pain Laura was in. When Laura commits suicide, Miles must deal with it.
You know, it doesn’t even sound that good when you put it like that which is why I suppose they opted for the hook of the loopy jacket description instead. But whatever, here’s the reality of the matter:

There’s no plot.

Every character except for Miles, the first-person focus of the novel, is underdeveloped.

Miles herself becomes a bore after awhile.

And I still don’t get it.

This would be the place to say I was in resounding love with Rachel’s writing back when I first began reading YA and I picked up Pop Princess and Gingerbread. Given my distaste for her recent releases—Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist and now this—I wonder where the object of my affections has gone. Have my preferences changed that much?

The first chapter is engaging enough. I love the “once upon a time”, fairy tale approach to retelling the past, which was employed here. Miles made everything seem so angelic, so perfect, you could hear the childlike giggles (of innocence) reverberating in the background. Then her tale is shattered by her cousin’s death, and you can feel the shards of her broken childhood.

Moving past the first chapter, everything becomes shoddy. The focus was never really on Laura or her suicide but rather on Miles’s self-loathing, drug habits, and unrequited love. And even so, those aren’t resolved either. Not that these things are easily fixed—especially not in the space of 200 pages—but they weren’t developed or evolved, either. Miles screws up with her drug habits as a result of her self-loathing and pushes her unrequited love away...

I’m not convinced anything changes after the last page. To me, Miles is still—as her father calls her—a burnout, except a more devastated one.

Don’t even get me started on my disgust with flat characterization. On a character-driven novel. Miles had personality and voice, but everyone else was drawn like a stick (ironically what Miles wants to be, heh).

On a last note, I’m gonna say that it takes an act of God himself to make me want to clean my room. This novel, somehow, ended up propelled me to do that.

I take this to mean I was uninterested? Bored? You tell me.

So, D. Thank god the writing style at least was redemptive.

ETA: In the comments section, Abby added: I loooved Gingerbread and its sequels, but I just really didn't get the point of You Know Where to Find Me. I really wanted to like it, but I just felt like it kind of went nowhere.

YUP.

13 comments:

Alea said...

I know I say this a lot. But this one definitely sounds too depressing for my tastes. I'm sorry you didn't like it but glad you got a bit of cleaning done :P Oh wait, maybe I SHOULD read it, for I do need to clean....

Simply_Megan said...

I read Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, did not like it all, but still considered reading Gingerbread for a fleeting moment when I saw it at my library. Now I'm not even going to bother.

Good review, though. lol.

jocelyn said...

You certainly balance out my opinions :-) I end up at least liking every book I finish (this being one of them, and Nick & Norah is a favorite of mine--although you probably finish more of the books you start than I do as I put down the ones I don't like), and then I feel like I must be unbearably cheery when I come read your reviews....Ah, well. Balance is good :-D

Diana Dang said...

I never read any of the books by that author but boy this one sounds bad. I'll keep it for a mental note not to buy.

Reader Rabbit said...

Oh Steph, you make it sound like reading it was murder!I didn't think it was THAT bad :)
Though I do like her other books better. (ie: Gingerbread...though that was a century ago)

Amee said...

I'm scared to even read Nick & Norah now.

On another note, Snarky Steph is back! :)

Hannah said...

i totaly agree!!! i only read the frist couple chapters and i was like ya this is going no where fast... so ya thanks for being brutaly honest! not many people would do that.... and nick and norah's infinate playlist but no i won't even bother

Abby said...

I loooved Gingerbread and its sequels, but I just really didn't get the point of You Know Where to Find Me. I really wanted to like it, but I just felt like it kind of went nowhere.

pepsivanilla said...

I really didn't like this one either, although I love Gingerbread, Shrimp, and Cupcake. I also liked Nick and Nora's despite the cussing and Pop Princess was ok. But this one is just kinda best summed up by you: there is no plot.

Steph said...

Abby - I'm putting that up there. That's pretty much what I meant.

RR - It's Rachel Cohn, which is why I finished it, but Jesus, I was so bored. I can depression books just fine, but I need there to be something special to do story. This was just dead. (Which is peculiar, as it's supposed to be a story about hope...)

Thanks to all who stopped by!

Steph

Amanda said...

I loved Nick and Norah's Infinate Playlist, but now this makes me iffy of Rachel Cohn....

Another Anon said...

See, this is why I love reading Steph's reviews. I read a review of this book on another site and they talked more about Shrimp, which they had loved, and only barely mentioned this book. I think each book should be judged on ITS merit, not if the reviewer liked a previous book.

I read Cupcake and sort of wondered how it got published at all -- all sorts of "telling" and no real "showing." But I chalked it up to not having read Shrimp, and let it go. Then, I read Nick and Norah and thought, well... I thought it wasn't believable in the least. Thank you from sparing me reading You Know Where to Find Me. There's too many authors I haven't read -- that I might like -- than trying AGAIN to like a "name" author's book. Makes me wonder if you are once a "lead" title as an author if you always get to be a "lead" title, even when the book doesn't warrant it. If so, that's a little sad, because I read some great midlist books and feel bad they often don't get any publicity, and only three months on a bookstore shelf.

Becky said...

I didn't like this one either. It just had no plot and I just didn't get it.

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