LC's Summer Reads will be featured throughout the Summer of 2012-- These are books that I decided would be perfect for on the beach, in the sun, or pretty much wherever I happen to be this summer! Click on the button above to see what other books I plan on reading! :)
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: June 12, 2012
So... This is one book that was really difficult for me to review. On one hand, there were some things about it that I really didn't like, but then on the other hand the story was loosely based off of Jane Austen's book Persuasion, which I've never read, so I feel like it's almost unfair of me to rate this book low considering that I may have missed a lot of the point of this story and its characters since I don't know anything about the classic it's based off of...
So because I have to critique this book more as a stand-alone and not as a new take on a classic, this review probably won't be as good or accurate as someone who has read Persuasion. If you were thinking about reading this one, it would be a good idea to read some other reviews for it as well!
OK, here we go...
So to begin with, my biggest problem with this book was that I didn't like the characters much at all-- and I absolutely despised whatever the heck was going on between Elliot and Kai. I wouldn't even call it a romance-- it was more just a desperate attempt on Elliot's part to hold on to a guy who acted like she was totally worthless through three-quarters of the book.
And I really need to emphasize that I seriously dislike it when girls in books come across as being desperate-- wait, scratch that-- I absolutely hate it when girls come across as being desperate! And Elliot was one of the most desperate characters I've ever read about. I mean, she was a total insecure mess and let Kai control and manipulate her, because she just could not cope with the idea of being without him. It really got to be pathetic to be perfectly honest. Elliot was like that girl friend you have who's stuck in a horrible relationship with a crappy guy, and you try to tell her that she's worth better, but she just won't listen. Except it's even more frustrating because you're reading about this train wreck of a relationship and can't stop it!
I also thought that Elliot's thought processes could be totally unrealistic to the point of seeming ridiculous-- She was just so insecure! As one example, there is a part where Benedict tells Elliot that her mother had left his father for Baron North. Immediately, Elliot jumps to the conclusion that her mother was only out to get money from the Baron, and it was no wonder Kai had tried to bribe her, Elliot, with money to stay quiet because she came from a long line of women who would do anything to get rich. Umm... what?? How the heck did you surmise that?? Do you really have that little confidence in your mother and yourself? I just didn't get it. It was such a strange conclusion to jump to, and I was seriously baffled.
Then there were the letters back and forth between Elliot and Kai, which were also ridiculous. They went something like this:
Please don't ever leave me. I am totally head over heels in love with you and would die if you ever went away.
You're a stinking Luddite with no brains. Bring me stuff and maybe I'll still hang out with you.
I hate you.
Not Your friend,
Yeah well, I hated you first.
Not Your friend,
Yeah, no joke, that's basically in a nutshell how the letters came across to me. There was no affection, just misunderstanding and immature insults. For me the reader, it was impossible to feel the same loss as Elliot did when Kai left, because there was nothing between her and Kai to lose in the first place!
So let's talk about Kai-- where do I even begin? In this book, Kai is a total jerk who acts selfish, manipulative, and immature. Until the very end, there is never a moment where I got to see a sweet side to him, where I might've thought to myself, OK I get why Elliot likes him, even if he can be mean and rude, I can understand her attraction. No. He was a douche to her throughout almost the whole book-- even in all the letters-- there was nothing revealed about him to make him seem worthy of Elliot's love and attention. And from the moment he and Elliot are reunited, he's badmouthing her and her family. But this was the kicker-- he was staying on their property. Yeah! He's staying on Elliot's family's property and he thinks it's OK to badmouth her and her family and treat her like dirt! If I was Elliot? I would've been like, you know what dude? If you don't like me and my family, why don't you pack your bags and get the heck off our land. OR, if that would have threatened the Fleet staying there and paying rent, I would have gone to the admiral of the Fleet and let him know to put Kai in line because getting insulted on a continual basis wasn't part of the deal. Why did Elliot just stay quiet and take his abuse? And why on earth did Elliot feel so guilty for making the clear responsible choice of staying behind on the estate and taking care of business instead of running off with Kai four years ago?
So in case you're a bit confused, the whole "thing" between Elliot and Kai went something like this:
Elliot was born a Luddite and Kai was born a child of "The Reduced," which are the lower class who serve the Luddites. Elliot and Kai grew up as "friends" (even though in their letters I never saw anything revealed of friendship, it was just Kai being resentful and trying to take advantage of Elliot) and then four years ago, Kai asked Elliot to leave her home, family and the estate she's ultimately responsible for to be with him. Elliot made the tough decision to stay behind because she had to take care of the farm and the people who depended on and worked for her family. So Kai left anyways, and then comes back one day as a member of a Sea Fleet which is renting land from Elliot's grandfather to build a new ship. And the rest of the story is about Kai trying to make Elliot feel sorry for not leaving everything for him and bringing her down for trying to be responsible... Well hey Kai, guess what? Not everyone is as selfish and immature as you-- some people actually understand that there are obligations and responsibilities in life and people that depend on them and things they're accountable for and they can't just up and leave because they're in love with you. And if you weren't such a selfish ass throughout the entire flipping book, maybe you would have realized that Elliot not leaving was because she was objective and wise when you were being a delusional idiot. The world doesn't freaking revolve around you buddy, sorry! Seriously, grow up already because you act like a spoiled little brat throughout the entire stinking story. And also-- you wanting Elliot to leave with you in the first place was not romantic-- it was foolish, selfish, and irresponsible.
[Whoa. Glad I got that off my shoulders!]
And really, I didn't understand why Elliot was constantly lamenting the fact that Kai was no longer "her Kai," how he was no longer the "old Kai," and how now he was this horrible person. Because in reality, he was just as much of an ass even way back when-- in all his letters to Elliot, he just came across as being totally selfish and immature and didn't care about Elliot unless she was completely under his control. It was one unhealthy and twisted relationship, and you'd think that after 4 YEARS of mulling it over, Elliot would have had time to figure this out. She acts like she's lost this amazing person who used to love her, when actually, Kai treated her like crap even before he left the estate. And lo and behold, he still acts like a child having a temper-tantrum now that he's 18.
I also didn't understand Elliot and her sister Tatiana's hate for one another. To me, there was no motivation behind it and was just added in as another point of conflict to the plot. Why couldn't they stand each other again? I mean it would have been one thing if Elliot and Tatiana just annoyed each other but in the end really loved one another, but they were completely estranged, with absolutely no sisterly bond or affection. It just didn't seem natural to me. I have a sister and we don't always get along or see eye to eye, but I don't see how you could dislike your sister as much as Tatiana and Elliot did.
OK, so what did I like about this book, you're probably wondering... Well, I did like the world building, and I thought it was really interesting to take a Post-Apocalyptic society and put them in a classic storyline. It almost came across as Steampunk because the characters acted Victorian in their manners and speech, but then there were futuristic elements as well. So that aspect of the book was very interesting and creative.
Also, the ending of this book did save it for me *somewhat.* Kai redeems himself for the most part, even though any explanation for why he was a jerk did not justify his attitude and behavior in my opinion, and if there was any explanation for why he all of a sudden pulled a 180 and became this awesome kind and caring guy, well-- I missed it. Basically, the strings were all tied together but it seemed a bit too convenient for me. But at the very least, Kai did change by the end and Elliot didn't end up with the jerk he started out as.
So all in all, I wasn't a big fan of this book, but I feel like my opinion isn't the best one to be taking because like I said, I'm totally clueless about the book it is based off of. Maybe if I read Persuasion by Jane Austen I would have a better understanding for the motivations behind the characters and why they acted the way they did, but on the other hand I think that a book should be able to stand alone and be likable whether I read the classic it was based off of or not. I guess it just wasn't for me, unfortunately!
I like the concept behind the design for this book cover, but at least from the ARC cover, it just doesn't look like it was executed that well. The image when you see it from afar looks very pretty, but there is just something about it that I can't put my finger on-- it looks sort of fake and artificial to me. Not to mention, the girl on the cover looks nothing like how Elliot is described in the book, and that's just a big pet-peeve of mine. I'm not trying to sound all negative about it, because in some ways it is very lovely and the galaxy stars are gorgeous, but this cover just isn't a favorite of mine.