Thursday, July 22, 2010

Review: Jennifer Echols, Forget You

Publisher: MTV
Pub date: July 20, 2010
Reading level: Young Adult
Page count: 304 pages

As much as I want to be snooty about Jennifer Echols (and don't worry, I will in just a sec), I have to say this: she knows how to do what she does. And, if you take what she does for what it is, you'll have to admit it's irresistible.  A literary masterpiece? Not remotely. But a quick, engaging, deliciously hormone-loaded soap opera? Oh, yes.  And sometimes that's just what we need.

After reading Going Too Far a couple weeks ago (review here), I didn't really imagine I'd be bothering with Jennifer Echols anymore. It's not that I didn't enjoy reading Going Too Far--I just didn't think it was all that great in terms of the qualities I tend to judge books on: character development and plot originality. But, I came across a flurry of reviews of Forget You after it was released the other day, and suddenly nothing seemed more appealing to me than another angst-ridden teenage romance (go figure). Putting werewolves and fallen angels aside for the moment, I downloaded Ms. Echols's latest work on my Kindle and dove in.

It's hard to review this work without comparing it to Going Too Far. Both were fun to read, but I think I slightly preferred Going Too Far.  I definitely preferred the main characters in Going Too Far to those in Forget You. John and Meg of Going Too Far somehow seemed more vivid, their voices more distinct, their choices and actions more logical than those of Doug and Zoey, the star-crossed lovers of Forget You.

Throughout Forget You, Zoey just seemed more defined by the things that were happening to her than by her own character. Her mom tries to commit suicide. Her dad is a cradle-robbing egomaniac jerk. Her "boyfriend" is cheating on her. She has amnesia. These are the things we know about her...but what about her personality? I'm trying to think of some defining characteristics and all I'm coming up with are: 1) super lusty and 2) wants to "hold her own counsel." In reality, she seemed a bit vapid, and so it was hard to become too invested in her story.

Doug is similar. We know more about the traumatic things that have happened to him (abusive dad, stint in juvie, treacherous best friend, etc.) than who he is as a person. Sure, we're told he has a feisty temper and he's sarcastic from time to time. But why is he so attracted to Zoey? Why has he been in love with her since the seventh grade? It's hard to say because the characters are underdeveloped and never really seem like real people.

That's not to say we don't want Doug and Zoey to get together, because we definitely do. But the reason for that isn't due to the chemistry of their personalities or any kind of carefully designed stimulating banter between them (a la Mr. Darcy & Elizabeth). It's pure sex appeal - and that's what Ms. Echols excels at, and that's why she's so fun to read, assuming you (and by "you" I really mean "me") can get off your high horse and allow yourself to enjoy her books.

3 stars

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