Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle


Sparkling white snowdrifts, beautiful presents wrapped in ribbons, and multicolored lights glittering in the night through the falling snow. A Christmas Eve snowstorm transforms one small town into a romantic haven, the kind you see only in movies. Well, kinda. After all, a cold and wet hike from a stranded train through the middle of nowhere would not normally end with a delicious kiss from a charming stranger. And no one would think that a trip to the Waffle House through four feet of snow would lead to love with an old friend. Or that the way back to true love begins with a painfully early morning shift at Starbucks. Thanks to three of today's bestselling teen authors John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle the magic of the holidays shines on these hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and breathtaking kisses.

Grade: C, surprisingly enough

Thank you to JL for this book!

Memorable Quotes/Lines: ARC, though you may find one particular scary line on John Green's bit below.

Available in stores September 11, 2008.

Okay, so, this novel wasn’t great. I thought the three stories were well interlaced—the authors obviously worked this down to the detail for the junction to make sense—but...

Story by story analysis:

The Jubilee Express by Maureen Johnson
Plot: Jubilee has to leave her boyfriend (who will proceed to not even call her) on Christmas Eve because when a family emergency comes up, she has to get down to Florida ASAP. So she goes onboard a train and on the way to the Orange State, they get stuck in the middle of the biggest snow storm in 50 years. She hops off the train and goes into a Waffle House twenty feet or so from where they stopped because they got snowed in. There, she meets this guy who shows her that her boyfriend is an asshole. Jubilee must decide whether or not she believes this guy, Stuart, and what she’ll do about it.

Believe it or not, I’ve never read any Maureen Johnson books before. I did, however, fall in love with her writing in this one. I hope the very elaborate, very clever sense of humor here is a trademark quality of hers. I adored it, enough to put one of her titles I have in my room next on my reading pile.

The plot wasn’t the most original, and we all know that in will-she-or-won’t-she stories, she almost always will, so it’s no surprise there how this ends. However, these are holiday romances, so I knew not to expect phenomenal. A little rushed to get on with the book and the other two authors, sure, but by far the best contribution to this book. B

A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle by John Green
Two best friends realize they have deeper feelings for each other.

Ah, Mr. Green’s story. Mollusks are raining down on us, for the apocalypse has cometh. I am about to give a work of his something worse than a negative review—an indifferent review. Instead of stimulating me, of taking my breath away, like he did with both Looking for Alaska and Paper Towns, he left me with a very dry, bitter aftertaste. Oh, no no no.

My biggest gripe in this short story is the writing. Gone is the humor that is Green’s stock and trade and in its place sits humor of the slapstick variety that is neither befitting of John’s talent, nor very funny. Case in point: “I always forget the Waffle House is like Lindsay Lohan’s legs: always open.” Oh no no no. I remember in Paper Towns there was a line that went something like “If I only had one day to live, I would spend it inside school, where days always seems to last a million years.” That kind of humor is worthy of John’s name on the cover.

Also, I don’t know what happened, but the style is so, so different than John’s usual. It read like inexperienced chick-lit. Too many awkward, long-winded sentences with conjunctions like “and” connecting clauses upon clauses, forcing me to go back over multiple paragraphs to grasp their meaning. Think Nicole’s internal monologue in Take Me There by Susane Colasanti with less periods.

The characters were realistic, but this isn’t because John’s a master at making them come to life in a hundred or so pages—it’s more to do with the fact they felt like slightly altered incarnations of previous Green Novels cast members. I know some people claim there’s always some sort of a formula included in John’s novels, but this is the first time I felt like there’s real validity behind that statement.

Romance was okay, if a little unfounded. I liked it enough to let the awkward buildup to it go. Perhaps the only other positive besides the characters (which carry their own burden because of the recycling thing).

All in all, not John’s best. Not by a longshot. If you come across this first before reading Alaska or Paper Towns, please, please, please try to get either of those before this so you understand this author’s stellar talent. I know I had to grab Alaska off my shelf while reading this last night just to make sure it was the book I remembered was the same one I’d read. Surely enough, it’s still amazing. This, however, is not. C-

The Patron Saint of Pigs by Lauren Myracle
Addie tries to figure out if her relationship with her boyfriend she cheated on a week ago will be okay. She can’t get hold of him anywhere and since they were supposed to meet on Christmas Eve and he never showed, she’s worried. Where is he?

I liked the characters okay. They were a little sketchy at parts, especially when Lauren Myracle tried describing the Jewish ones, which came across...weirdly. Also, sometimes it was hard to believe the three leads (Addie and her best friends) were the age they were depicted to be, due to their random bursts of immaturity.

Now, what I liked here was that Addie in particular wasn’t sympathetic at all (at least in my book), but I thought she was compelling. Yes, a lot less when she was being self-absorbed or immature, which was a lot, but I still liked her.

Plot, romance, et al, were okay. (The romance bit especially. I liked it.) Personally enjoyed this story more than John Green’s (and decidedly less than Maureen Johnson’s—Maureen knocked the attention competition out of the water with hers). I’ve never been a Myracle fan, and this story didn’t tip the scales in any way. C+

Let It Snow in a word: Meh. Average. Not the worst you can do, but definitely not the best, either. Flawed but still enjoyable at parts. It'll be out in paperback straight off, so that's a plus if you must absolutely get it. If you're just looking for a good collection of holiday love stories, I'd recommend Lurlene McDaniel's How I Love Thee before this one.


Liv said...

Darn. I'd been looking forward to this book so much. I'll definitely still be getting it, but I guess my expectations have been lowered a little bit by your review. Oh well, thanks for letting me know what to expect. :)

WannabeWriter said...

Aww. I was drooling over this one too. But thanks for the honest review. I'll still get it to check out Maureen's story.


Anonymous said...

As soon as I saw this as your most recent review, I was so sad. I have yet to get to this book, but will be getting to it next month to review it around the release date.

I'm sorry you didn't really like the book that much, although I am kinda glad that you liked Lauren's story at least a bit cuz I know you were never really impressed by her (which is sad, but oh well).

I'm still looking forward to reading it though cuz you and I have different tastes, and I usually happen to like books that you don't, lol. :P

Good review though. I liked how you did it story by story as well as overall.

YA Book Realm said...

The book summary seemed interesting. I was surprised how you thought John Green's writing was not up to par like it usually is. Huh. Not that I ever read his other books. But hopefully that will change by the next visit I make to the library.

Thanks you for the writing what you really thought of it (which you always do lol)

Chelsie said...

What an honest review.

I don't know if I'll read this or not, but I might.

I was kind of undecided before I read the review, but now I just don't know. If I get the opportunity I might, but I'm not gonna go out of my way to get it or anything.

Amee said...

I've been looking forward to this one for the last couple weeks now. I love holiday love stories.

Maybe I'll get both this one and the Lurlene McDaniel one. ;)

Great review though! I also like that you reviewed story by story. :D

Khy said...

Great review. I still want to read it very bad, since I'm such a John Green and Maureen Johnson fangirl. At least I know what to expect now.

Lenore Appelhans said...

I don't think this would have appealed to me anyway. There is something suspect in stories about puppies and stories about christmas love. ;)

Gabbi said...

I haven't read Paper Towns or Looking for Alaska (although the latter is TBR), but I did read An Abundance of Katherines. And loved it.

Caroline said...

Ah. Depressed! It makes me very sad (nervous, also) to hear that John Green's writing wasn't as good as usual. (And, based on the horrific Lindsay Lohan quote [*cringe*] I definitely believe you that it wasn't).
Maybe I'll still get it for MJ's story, though, 'cause I was really looking forward to reading this.

Also- great job on the seriously honest review. It's got to be hard to critique John Green, being as he's more loved than almost any other YA author out there. (Stephenie Meyer and JK Rowling aside. John's more loveable than them in my book anyway, though).

Caroline said...

Oh! Was also going to say that I might check out Lurlene McDaniel's collection, so thank you for the reccomendation.
Maybe. It will be at Christmastime, so I might be more in the mood for her than usual (assuming that the Christmas love stories come with the typical religious stuff?)

Alea said...

Ahh your other post makes more sense now. I'm sort of relieved it wasn't American Wife. I'm loving that book right now. I think I'll read "Let it Snow" I love short stories and I love YA. I'm pretty easy to please when it comes to books though. I love all these YA short story collections popping up!

Steph said...

Hey, all, thanks for commenting :)

Caroline - you have no idea how hard it was to negatively review a work of John's. He's, like, my god. I'm not even joking, which is the sad part :P But alas, when I came across that Lindsay Lohan line .... wow, lol. You should definitely still get it just because, you know, it's good to read all the works of your favorite authors but I would lower my expectations if I were you. We have different tastes, I'm sure, so you may end up loving it. If I know the average Green fan, though, I'd say this story is a bit disappointing. Really disappointing for me because I'm anal.

Alea - Oh no I'm expecting stupendous with American Wife. It's up next once I finish a few books I gotta review here and there. I can't BELIEVE I got an ARC! So happy :D Looking forward to your review, though!


Alea said...

I'm still plugging away on American Wife. 200 pages to go. Hopefully I'll finish it this weekend :)

Anonymous said...

I'm reading this now, and enjoying it- my review should be up tonight, unless something goes horribly wrong. And by that, I mean, if my computer decides not to turn on yet, lol.

I read John's story and it actually made me want to read more of his stuff, which I was planning on doing anyway, but I was encouraged anyway. It's probably not his best writing, and it didn't like WOW me or anything, but it was decent enough to make me want to read more.

And hey, at least his story was the shortest, lol, so the disappointment didn't go on for too long.

Anonymous said...

Though I respect your opinion, I feel as if you don't give it enough credit. It was a wonderful book, comign from a person who jumped into it only expeting some sort of romance story, and well that is what I got. This book was very good, and I enjoyed quite a bit. Alll due Respect, Emmy

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