Sunday, August 1, 2010

Very LeFreak by Rachel Cohn

I cannot do Rachel Cohn anymore. I just--I’ve tried. I really have. I’ve read most of her books, I even enjoyed one or two, but the latest ones were torturous to get through and just--ARGH, I’m on the edge, BIG TIME.

*deep breath*

So, the book’s about Very LeFreak*, a girl with a technology addiction. She’s in heaps of trouble with the dean and the RA due to her negligence of her Columbia schoolwork, her wild parties, and the flash mobs she’s always organizing for her Jay Something fellow dorm residents. Not that she really cares, because the only thing she seems to give a rat’s ugly ass about is her cryptic cyber boyfriend, El Virus.

So anyway, her addiction gets to the point where it’s overbearing even her closest friends (one of which she alienated when she slept with him, then he wanted a relationship, and she didn’t), so they stage an intervention sanctioned by the dean and Very’s RA to get her to detox: live with very, very limited access to electronics until the remainder of the semester. Since El Virus is MIA…she gives into it.

But then, when she’s checking her messages one day during her allowed time, he’s back and so’s her need for the machine and so she falls off the wagon and goes all berserk when she finds out that her friend destroyed her confiscated laptop by being nosy trying to open an encrypted file and, upon failure, launching a deadly virus onto said laptop rendering it useless and oh my god, the friend threw it away and Very’s so angry she--

Tries to kill him. But then she’s quickly overpowered and lands in rehab for her OBVIOUS problems.

Yeah, WOW.

Quick assessment: the first part is kind of really jumbled up and sometimes boring and if you're anything like me, you'll have no desire to go on but only do so because you must finish the book to be fair in your review. Nothing really happens; the characters are just...there...and they're not there to entertain or intrigue or compel, they're just there to exist and only sheer force of will moved that portion of the book forward for me.

But then, the second part is much, much better. At first. Then it's just--oh, we'll get there when we get there.

So, in the second part, Very's in rehab and she decides to commit this time, even though El Virus may be out there. Now, this is something I didn't really understand: Why, if he was such an obsession before, was she so readily able to let go of him and of her hopes of finding him over the summer? You have to understand that in the first part, this girl didn't so much as breathe without imagining him doing dirty things to her and then, when he's finally back on her turf, she just! What???

Moving on: she works on her addiction, reluctantly at first, in this place that has absolutely NO electricity. In the rehab, she talks to a much-needed shrink and those scenes are the best parts of the entire book. Rachel Cohn did a BEAUTIFUL job with Very's character. That is the one huge highlight in the book. Her motivations are complicated but well-founded, her character arc is great, and her voice is natural and for the most part consistent. I didn't really LIKE her as a person, but at least I, the reader, viewed her as one.

And then it went bad again.



Very meets El Virus at the camp. They're all soul-mate-y but she's become less promiscuous so she holds back on putting out and then, when she gets her one night out near the end of the program, she sees her college roommate who's going to a nearby camp at the same joint she goes to and somehow they kiss and she realizes she's in love with HER and--GAH.

I mean, it's implied that the roommate is lesbian before all this happens and Very is an open bisexual who's been with other girls, so at least it's not all that ~OUT THERE~, but WHY, GOD, WHY?

WHY did El Virus need to show up? And why did he need to be, quite frankly, a little bit...creepy?

And WHY did there need to be a cheeseball conclusion to an otherwise down-to-Earth book about a cynical girl who DOES NOT DO CORNY?

This is where this book becomes a train wreck. God.

Without mentioning that from the depiction in the book, it's really hard to make up your mind about whether you believe in technology addiction or not.

And beyond this, I didn't like this book because I didn't like its tone. I mean, Ms. Cohn is very adept at world-building and YES, she's definitely got a huge talent for voice. But...there's something intangible that just sets of me off. There's the fact I didn't like the structure of the book or how it dealt with sex, but this goes much deeper than that. It just--

This is why I can't read Rachel Cohn anymore. I think her books are all wrong for me in terms of essence, never mind the other stuff that goes into books (characters, plot, etc) and I can't explain why. It's unsettling.

But anyway--D+. Very, at least, was well-done.


Kate said...

Thanks for the honest review. This book sounds a little crazy :)

Diana Dang said...

Wow, so this is what the novel is about? I always saw the cover but never did I expect it to be this sort of plotline. Lol thanks for the honest review tho!

Steph said...

It's about her addiction and her rehab, but meh, it's a huge ol' mess. IMO.

Anonymous said...

I've read some of her books with David Levithan and YUCK they were bad but his independently written books are A+++++ so obviously she ruins them =(

Liviania said...

I wasn't surprised that the internet boyfriend was kinda creepy in person. That's pretty realistic, in spite of all the craziness in the book.

Amee said...

Wow, how crazy. I personally don't really believe in technology addiction. How hard can it be to turn the computer off? Sounds like this girl was more addicted to the guy than the technology anyway.

Simply_Megan said...

This sounds bizarre...The only book I've read by her was Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist(and also with David Leviathan) and I thought that book was awful so I don't think I'll be reading anything by her.

Ali said...

Wow, it really doesn't sound like my kind of book, but, then again, I never did read Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist ...

So glad to see you back, my dear Steph! Lots of love! :)

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