Tuesday, 25 August 2015

What I Thought Was True - Huntley Fitzpatrick; Review

Book Details:
Paperback: 416 pages
Publisher: Speak 
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0142423955
ISBN-13: 978-0142423950


Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He's a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island's summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she'll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen's dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

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I know tis been a while since my last review. I shan’t bore you with reasons as to why that is, but take your pick from the following: was abducted by aliens, I was ill, secret services demanded to have me on board. But I’m back today with a review and a handful more lined up thanks to my reading book binge. 

I’ve already encountered Fitzpatrick’s earlier work in the form of her debut, My Life Next Door which I absolutely loved - and the review for which can be found here. Given my admiration, why has it taken me THIS LONG to get around to her second novel I hear you shout. Again, let’s chalk it up to any of the following *includes ridiculous reasons why such as mad cow disease* 

Nonetheless, after having ordered her third book (The Boy Most Likely To) I decided to kill the time waiting for it’s arrival by at least reading the second book. And now here I am. 

I hate to start off a review negatively, but I honestly had such a hard time getting through this book, and that was due mainly to the writing. For me at least, it felt extremely broken with poorly strung sentences, which I had to read at least 2/3 times over just for it to make sense. This wasn’t the case with her first book, which was so easy to read. This hindered the whole flow of the story, as I kept revising parts in my mind to make sure I was following it correctly. In turn this sadly affected everything else about the book for me - it didn’t flow as easily, the characters seemed disjointed without any real chemistry (especially for the love interests). 

The plot itself, whilst simple and cliched, could have been great with good writing - but in this case, it came across as boring, lacking any real push to the story. The breakdown of events was really muddled and not as clear cut as it should have been, as flitting between past and present memories is really muggy. We know something happened between Gwen and Cas in the past that effectively ruined their relationship and characters such as Spence had a hand to play in it - but it took far too long for the events to unfold and when it did, maybe it’s just me, but it didn’t seem like the suspense was worth it for the events that transpired. It just came across as stubbornness and lack of communication for both characters. 

As for the individuals themselves, I was torn between wanting to like them but being unsuccessful in my endeavours. Gwen’s character is likeable enough in theory; she’s conflicted, she’s honest with herself, she’s got a lot of responsibility on her shoulders and she handles it well. She doesn't let her ambitions run away with her and is grounded in her reality of the present. All good stuff for your main female character. Despite that though, I couldn’t connect with her the way I had hoped to. Same can be said for Cas - he was likeable enough, your typical beach boy crush - yet he lacked substance, there wasn’t much depth or background to him, especially when it came to how he landed in the situation in the island. A little bit more detail into his family and circumstance could have just done that little bit extra to bring him up to scratch. In comparison, the secondary characters were more likeable, enter Gwen’s cousin Nic. 

Overall I was disappointed with this story and hope it’s just a one off and not a style that’s going to continue on to her third book. The Boy Most Likely To, the review for which will be up in the next few weeks. 

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