Nickel Plated by Aric Davis

Nickel PlatedNickel Plated by Aric Davis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I was interested in this at first, but it was rough around the ages, which means my interest declined the longer I read.

It’s about a 12 year-old, but the MC sounds more like he’s 30. You can trust me on this, since I spent years working as a middle school librarian, and while I know all kids are very different, this just does not ring true with middle school kids or their brain development, especially since he supposedly dropped out of school at age 9 after a rough childhood, which in most cases would have meant both his social development and education were also stunted or delayed.

I’d have settled for a very mature, older teenager, at minimum, so the voice is definitely off on this. Still, I let that go, because something here caught my attention.

There’s some definite editing issues with this one, and that also bothered me. It changes tenses sometimes, when it shouldn’t. It’s not intentional, but accidental, which is just poor editing. However, I also sucked it up and let that go.

Then there’s long descriptions about things that just don’t matter and don’t help the story forward, like what feels like 50 sentences on making or eating dinner, which isn’t interesting at all and doesn’t speak to the storyline or character development at all. It just ends up being a boring play by play of mundane details in the characters life, but hey, everyone eats, so I tried to let that go.

Then the story tries to tackled too many major issues at once, even though some of the issues were noteworthy and of interest, and the story which started out interesting begins to flail. So I tried to let that go, too.

By the halfway point, I realized I couldn’t keep letting things go and was losing ground and interest in the story. The start was definitely the best part. I do appreciate that this was unexpected and different. I also understand that fiction requires me to suspend disbelief, but this is just so unrealistic and unbelievable that at a certain point, that becomes absolutely impossible.

I reached a point where I couldn’t play along anymore, and absolutely everything seemed unrealistic and illogical after that. As a result, my interest flagged. I almost had to DNF, but since it was a short book, I powered through. I don’t really recommend this, but with a decent editor, this book probably could have been more readable. It just feels too much like an early rough draft, and if there had even been some strong beta readers it seems like a lot of these issues could have been fixed or addressed.

Pages: 208

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The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

The Notebook (The Notebook, #1)The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The movie is better. Yes, I said it, and I don’t feel bad at all. I almost regret having read the book, because it just doesn’t touch on the magic and beauty of the movie.

The world building is richer, and the characters have better and more fascinating personalities in the movie. The story structure is also better. The book version is slow and has way too much telling and back story, and these long monologues about love that go on an on, ad nauseam. The side characters are flat and completely one dimensional, and they are only discussed as part of the backstory, in an offhand sort of way. They don’t really contribute to the actual storyline or plot. I was so indifferent to all of them that it almost broke my heart.

This is flat and disappointing compared to the movie, and I know that’s going to be a controversial opinion. As an avid reader, I tend to almost always side with the book, but there are some rare exceptions:

Brokeback Mountain
The Handmaid’s Tale (TV Show)
And now The Notebook

I’m not saying I hated reading those books. They just didn’t compare to the depth and vibrancy of the movies and TV shows. So it looks like I definitely can’t buy one of those, “The book is always better” t-shirts now, because this year has taught me that it just isn’t so, at least, not always.

I think in the future, I’ll stick with my plan of watching Nicholas Sparks books, instead of reading them, since his strength seems to be more in his concepts than his actual writing and storytelling. Sure, this one has a few pretty sentences, but I honestly would have preferred a less convoluted story structure and some actual depth in the characters and their relationships that went beyond sickeningly sweet clichés. And the ending. Ugh. *insert eye roll*

I guess I just don’t understand this, since everyone else seems to adore this book. Perhaps it is because this is now 14 years old, and there have been so many better stories published since then. If you want a contemporary love story with some challenges and hardship, I instead recommend any of these (several of which also have movies that are good but not better than the book*):

Aristotle and Date Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Saenz
Me Before You by JoJo Moyes*
November 9 by Colleen Hoover
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green*
I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios
The Truth About Forever and/or Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout
Literally any book by Katie McGarry
Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Okay, I could probably go on forever, but I’ll stop here. My advice, if you’ve already seen the movie, is that you should definitely skip this book and pick up one of the above instead.

Pages: 214

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By Your Side by Kasie West

By Your SideBy Your Side by Kasie West
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Okay. This book is delightful, though I confess I wish they had spent far more time actually trapped inside of the library. Come on, that’s basically a librarian’s dream book premise, even though we all probably could have just trapped ourselves in a library for a weekend at some point. However, that would have been far less exciting, probably included doing work, and it would have been absent the presence of a broody almost stranger.

Still, I enjoyed the sweetness of the story, paired up with all the real world issues.

Pages: 346

PS: This was the final book I needed to read to complete my 2017 Goodreads Reading Challenging! I can’t believe I was almost 42 books behind back in August.

Thank goodness for Audible and Overdrive, so that I can listen while I accomplish other things. I’d never be able to read this much without them.  The best part is that the Goodreads App rained down star confetti, and so I left my phone on that page for almost 10 minutes.

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