In this post, Luna picks up a YA contemporary…and hates it. Wow, what a surprise.
This is your spoiler warning. I will be talking about the book in detail so if you intend to read it, please look away now.
I really don’t know why I pick up contemporary sometimes. There are very rare occasions that I love them and they are added to my shelves to stay there forever. And other times, I resent the time and brain space they take up.
I do not like contemporary, guys. Nine times out of ten, they bore me. And this was not one of those lucky number tens.
Let’s start with the Goodreads summary.
For the first time ever, the Weston sisters are at the same boarding school. After an administration scandal at Libby’s all-girls school threatens her chances at a top university, she decides to join Charlotte at posh and picturesque Sussex Park. Social-climbing Charlotte considers it her sisterly duty to bring Libby into her circle: Britain’s young elites, glamorous teens who vacation in Hong Kong and the South of France and are just as comfortable at a polo match as they are at a party.
It’s a social circle that just so happens to include handsome seventeen-year-old Prince Edward, heir to Britain’s throne.
If there are any rules of sisterhood, “Don’t fall for the same guy” should be one of them. But sometimes chemistry—even love—grows where you least expect it. In the end, there may be a price to pay for romancing the throne…and more than one path to happily ever after.
This book is clearly inspired by Kate and Pippa, not to mention the royal wedding. I have no issues with this as real life fairy tale romances, as well as marrying a prince – that’s probably what a lot of girls dream about. I remember the build up to the wedding, how everyone was gripped, and all anyone talked about for days was what Kate would wear. A little bit of fantasy and wish fulfilment isn’t a bad thing. It’s an easy read and I’m sure someone would find it fun and enjoyable.
But I have high standards for contemporary so that is not me.
The main problem with this book can be summed up for me in five words.
I. DO. NOT. LIKE. CHARLOTTE.
This is not good as Charlotte is our main protagonist and our point of view for the whole story. And I dislike her so much that I’m going to make a list!
- She’s…whiny. I do not have a better word for it. I have more detailed reasons below but a lot of the narration is a lot of ‘Poor me, I’m so betrayed, wah wah wah, I’m a super star.’ If I wanted an insufferable narrator, I’d go read Twilight.
- Ignorant of other people’s feelings. She has no idea that Edward likes Libby, even though everyone else can see it, and either doesn’t know or care how much her behaviour is hurting her sister when they’re not speaking. I’m not arguing that she didn’t have a right to be hurt or angry but she took it too far. You dated Edward casually for a few months. Get over yourself.
- Self-absorbed – as above. She seems to think that her actions are justified, even though she never let Libby explain. Edward was the one to make a move on a drunk girl and yet Charlotte punishes her sister for months on end. Her behaviour is petty and childish and yes, maybe she should have been hurt as they’d only just broken up. But Charlotte had said herself that they weren’t a good match and she found Edward a bit boring. Then suddenly, it’s like he was her true love and she’s been betrayed.
- Drama Queen – also relevant to above. She’s very melodramatic and blows things out of proportion. Maybe that is something teenage girls can be guilty of doing (I am not innocent of that myself) but when you’re reading first person POV it can be very hard to stomach.
- She’s immature. Her mother quite rightly takes away her credit cards and spending money. Charlotte has been acting out, yelling at teachers, failing her classes and to boot spending several thousand pounds without her parents’ consent. After her behaviour, her mother was extremely justified in punishing her this way until she improves her grades and learns to be more mature. Charlotte acts like it’s the worst thing in the world and everyone is against her when this is the least that she deserves. She seems ungrateful for all the things she has and I hate the entitled mindset that she has.
- I understand that she’s meant to be a social climber and trying to fit in with the elite when her family didn’t have much money in her childhood but she takes it too far. She’s horrendously vapid and shallow, not to mention very judgemental. Feminism is mentioned but that’s more for Libby as Charlotte never actually holds up to it.Charlotte is basically this.
So that’s my list for Charlotte but the others weren’t that much better. Edward is bland as mozzarella and, as I said above, makes a move on a drunk girl. This is something I disagree with as someone drunk might do something that they would never normally give permission to or is more easily controlled or persuaded. I have high standards for love interests in YA fiction but I have to. Too often these days, they’re broody, rapey, and abusive and making a move on Libby when she’s not in complete control gives Edward a big black mark in my book.
Charlotte’s friends are all interchangeable and uninteresting. I wish India had gotten more development and time as she was the most interesting and likeable. There could be a lot more in an upper-class girl coming out as gay but we see very little of it.
Flossie was the worst. Right from the get go, you can tell that she’s going to be the villain of the piece. And when details about Edward and Libby are leaked to the press and Charlotte is accused, guess who the real culprit is. Seriously, you can see it a mile off.
Also, maybe she’s such a bitch because she’s called Flossie. I don’t know what you think England is like but we don’t usually all our kids such stupid names.
Libby was the only one halfway decent. She was kind, better developed and acted like a mature person. There’s a lot of banging on about her academic prowess but sadly, we never see any actual proof of this, Libby isn’t perfect by any means but I would have preferred a book from her point of view than Charlotte’s.
Plot what plot
For the most part…there isn’t really one. Charlotte meets prince, Charlotte makes out with prince, sister arrives at school, prince likes sister, Charlotte dumps prince, prince dates sister, Charlotte throws a strop. We spend too long on Charlotte and Edward’s lacklustre relationship and even more on Charlotte’s temper tantrum regarding the ‘betrayal’ of Edward and Libby. This is tedious and results in Charlotte’s narration becoming even more self-pitying and feeling like everyone is against her. Her teammates are completely justified in their complaints – she does turn up to practice late and hungover and screams at the coach like a child.
Sadly when we do get some action it’s cliche and predictable. I could tell right away that the big event of the book would be a leak to the press and Charlotte would be blamed. Even worse, I knew that Flossie would really be the one behind it and Charlotte would use a recorder app to get the truth out of her. AND I KNEW ALL THAT FIFTY PAGES IN. If your reader knows what happens by the end of the book before she’s even gotten there, maybe you need a new plot.
England isn’t really like that
Ignoring the stupid names, this book isn’t very well researched. The teenagers all talk like they belong in LA and it was easy at times to forget this wasn’t set in California. At one point the author talks about snow falling and paints a picturesque picture of a perfect white Christmas.
I hate to break it to you but winters in Britain aren’t like that. Usually, they involve rain, bitterly cold winds and a few places getting flooded out right in time for Christmas day. The last time we had serious snow was 2010. Yeah, ten years ago. It’s probably just as well because we’re horribly ill-equipped for it. The whole country stops for a bit of snow fall. That right there should show you we don’t get a lot of it.
I don’t like writing reviews all that much. You can probably tell as they’re not frequent here at Novel Darlings and we’re still looking for new, different ways to review books that are as fun for us the write as they are for you to read. But I break that when I love a book or in this case, despise it. I gave this book 1 star on Goodreads, although I dithered between giving it one or two. I decided because if I had the choice, I would not read this again.
If this is your thing then, by all means, give it a go. I frequently read books that other bloggers haven’t liked just so I can form my own opinion. If you would like to read this book to make your’s, do and please let me know what you think.
Did you read this book or do you intend to? And if there’s anyone out there who shares my opinion on contemporary, leave me a comment so I know I’m not alone!