Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy: Physics Failure

I’m coming up with a theory that what separates a fine young adult romance from a great one is mainly a matter of mass and velocity.  And when it comes to physics the Summer I Turned Pretty Trilogy, by Jenny Han, fell short in both respects. The basic structure made enough sense: basic love triangle, with a twist that both male leads are brothers.

The books follow Isabel “Belly” (gross!) and her mother’s best friend’s sons Conrad and Jeremiah through three books: The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, and We’ll Always Have Summer. The two families spend every summer together at the beach. Until the summer before Belly’s sixteenth year, the boys and her older brother leave her out. Then she gets breasts and everything changes.

When it comes to mass, the weight assigned to events within the trilogy makes no sense. There is a way in high school, and thus in YA novels, that having a crush can be assigned greater importance to school, friends, and severe family drama. Finding this balance in a way that is believable is a challenge particularly important in a romance. This is Han’s major fail. Literally life-changing decisions are treated with less consideration then what to wear to a bonfire. The fact that Belly vacillates between brothers is either over-dramatized or trivialized.

You might, by now, be able to tell that 9th grade physics was the lowest grade I got in my life…but in terms of velocity the series also disappoints. In all three books 90% of the action happens in the final 10% of the novel. The ends are not foreshadowed. All of a sudden: people are declaring their love, breaking each other’s hearts, and at times doing both at the same time.

Where Han does succeed is in creating tension. Maybe it was just me, but I was definitely excited to keep reading to find out which brother Belly would end up with. If you are looking for a new contemporary young adult series, then go ahead and read these books. I probably would have liked, but not loved, these books when I was in high school.  I would definitely recommend Stephanie Perkins or Megan McCafferty instead.

P.S. I’ve heard rumors of a movie version, but can’t confirm. Has anyone heard anything?

Late Adopter

Last week I started listening to Freedom by Jonanthan Franzen on the way to work. I’m a few disks away from finishing (so don’t ruin anything for me!) but let me tell you, I am in love.  It seems to capture human experiences and emotions in a way that seems more real to me then anything else I’ve read, even my own diary. The characters are flawed, interesting, and believable. The plot is intricate without being heavy handed. In fact I would recommend you all read it, except for the fact that you probably already have.

I can’t help wondering why I didn’t read this book back in 2010 when it climbed the best sellers list and it seemed like everyone was talking about it. I am trying to find people who will discuss the book with – but the message thus far has been clear, the rest of the world has moved on.

I am a consummate late adopter. I don’t know if I am just contrary, or consistently out of the loop – but somehow I’m always behind the trends in movies, music, and especially in books. I didn’t even start texting until 2008. Something hits the scene and somehow everyone around me has read/heard/watched it. My friends are talking about it in hushed tones, trying not to give away endings. Blogs and magazines feature interviews with the author and strong love/hate opinions.

From Hunger Games to Inception to the Twilight Series (oh and The Office and Taylor Swift) I am completely out of the loop and then once I finally get around to reading/seeing/listening I am the biggest fan of all. I don’t know…maybe because it feels like everyone has moved on my ardor only grows. Not to say that anyone has moved on by the Hunger Games or Twilight, as evidenced by the recent Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart debacle, or the internet quest to figure out who will play Finnick in the next Hunger Games movie.

Who else has had similar experiences? What are some things you’ve been late in adopting and ended up loving?