Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Same Old Story: A Rant About the Lack of Originality in Romantic Fiction

I read a lot. I read a lot of romance. I love the stories of first love, boy meets girl, drama and lust. But what I don't love at the moment is the sheer number of books I'm reading that all follow basically the same story. Girl meets boy. Girl and Boy fancy each other. Girl and Boy dance around one another for a while before (hurrah!) getting together. Something terrible/tragic/confusing/annoying happens; Girl and Boy break up. Girl and Boy realise that one or both of them have been idiots and get back together. The End.

It's not a new story. It surely must happen a lot in real life in order to have spawned quite so much fiction following this plot line. But it sure does get boring sometimes. It's got to the point where I start to lose interest at the point where something happens to split the lovely couple up. It's not like I hate all books that use this story - there are plenty out there that are still really good in spite, or even because, of it. But I do need a break from it now and again. It's one of the reasons why I enjoy urban fantasy novels. Lots of these use the same basic story, but the addition of magic or monsters spices it up and makes it more interesting.

Many of the worst offenders are Young and New Adult romances. I think these books suffer the most from the curse of unoriginality because the main characters are young, and they often don't have much going on in their life apart from school, friends and romance. Don't get me wrong - that can make for a wonderful book, but it doesn't always. It pleases me greatly when the young MC has something else in her life to make it more interesting, be it a sport or hobby, a werewolf or a witch. Adult novels are also guilty of the common trope, but older characters tend to have more going on in their lives which makes for a fuller, better-rounded story.

So what books have bucked the trend? Here are a few examples of some of my favourite books - all stories that veer off the well-beaten love-tragedy-love path:
Everything by Maggie Stiefvater, but specifically the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy
Stiefvater is far too clever to give in to YA cliches. She works hard at making her writing tricksy and intelligent, but vastly enjoyable at the same time.

Kiss Him Goodbye by Victoria Routledge
Not a YA though it could be classed as NA, an old-time favourite and my go-to book whenever I feel down. Kate Craig is new to London and she hates it, but she's a stubborn thing and determined to see the challenge through. What she didn't bargain for was flatmates who invade her life and the ways in which the big city subtly changes you.

Saving June by Hannah Harrington
A road-trip story, a coming-of-age yarn and a poignant tale of loss and growth all rolled into one.

Soulmates by Holly Bourne
Poppy and Noah's romance is incredible, wonderful and beautiful to read. But. There is a But. I just can't say what it is. Sorry. Read it if you're feeling brave, and love it for its beauty.

Blood Magic by Tessa Gratton
Buckets of blood, magic that could be real, and an atmosphere so thick and dark that I found myself completely drawn in.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Review: Paradise City by CJ Duggan

Published by: Hatchette Australia
Release date: 28th April 2015
Series:  Paradise #1

I got it from: Netgalley
Goodreads summary:

There's bound to be trouble in Paradise . . .

When her parents decide a change will be good for her, seventeen-year-old Lexie Atkinson never expected they'd send her all the way to Paradise City. Coming from a predictable life of home schooling on a rural Australian property, she's sure that Paradise will be amazing. But when she's thrust into a public school without a friendly face in sight, and forced to share a room with her insipid, hateful cousin Amanda, Lexie's not so sure.

Hanging out with the self-proclaimed beach bums of the city, sneaking out, late night parties and parking with boys are all things Lexie's never experienced, but all that's about to change. It's new, terrifying . . . and exciting. But when she meets Luke Ballantine, exciting doesn't even come close to describing her new life. Trouble with a capital T, Luke is impulsive, charming and answers to no one. The resident bad-boy leader of the group, he's sexier than any boy Lexie has ever known.

Amidst the stolen moments of knowing looks and heated touches, Lexie can't help but wonder if Luke is going to be good for her . . . or very, very bad?

My review:
It's not often I get the opportunity to read books by Australian authors on Netgalley, something I wish they would rectify if Paradise City is anything to go by. Billed as 'a seriously sexy New Adult series you won't want to miss. For fans of Abbi Glines, Sarah Dessen and Colleen Hoover', I'd say they've got it spot on. I am indeed a fan of Sarah Dessen and Abbi Glines, and Paradise City reminded me of both, in all the best ways.

First up there's Lexie - part sweet and innocent, part sassy and brave, she makes a wonderful MC. Lexie has a lot to learn when she arrives in Paradise City - her cousin isn't at all what she expected, school is nothing like her dreams, and boys want to do a lot more than hold hands. The wide-eyed country girl learning how things work in the big city makes for an endearing start to the story, and it makes her different enough to catch the attention of the school heartthrob, surfer bad-boy Luke Ballantyne.

Ah, Luke Ballantyne. Definitely a great addition to the book boyfriend list. He's hot, mysterious and confident, yet there's definitely a nice boy lurking underneath all that. I wish we'd had Luke's point of view as well as Lexie's, as I'm guessing it would have made for very interesting reading. There's a lot about this boy that I still don't know and really want to.

Duggan's writing is addictive, and I really didn't want to put this book down. It's a decent size though and I do require sleep in order to function, so this definitely wasn't a one-sitting story, which is a good thing - a book I can read in a couple of hours is all well and good, but I like to sink my teeth into something a bit meatier most of the time. Duggan provides that and more, with steamy scenes, titillating romance, and a fast-paced plot. And if that's not enough, it's funny, awkward, charming and entertaining too. One thing the story seemed to be lacking however, was any mention of the future. These kids are 17 and 18, and not once did they mention what they might do with their future. Are any of them going to university? If so where? Or are they going to get jobs locally, apprentice, go travelling? At that age the subject of what you're going to do when you leave school is a pretty major one, and I found it strange that Duggan didn't think it worth including. Hopefully all will be revealed in the sequel, which, by the way, I really can't wait for. I nearly cried when I got to the end and realised I'd have to wait until the autumn to get the end of this story. In the mean-time, I'm off to read every CJ Duggan book I can get my hands on!