The Boy Most Likely to deserve a better written girlfriend

I am reading the third book from author Huntley Fitzpatrick, The Boy Most Likely To, and I am ready to write my own most likely list:

Alice, the girl most likely to:

Make me want to reach inside the book and slap you

Make me want to hurl the book across the room

Make me want pretend you don’t exist and just read the Tim chapters

Make me give up reading Huntley Fitzpatrick books

Oh, Alice. Let me let you in on a secret that’s not really a secret. You are not Tim’s mother. You’re not anyone’s mother, so please stop acting like it. Figure out who you are and what you want already because you are driving me crazy.

boyI’m going to sound repetitive because I said the same thing about Fitzpatrick’s last book, but I don’t get this character at all. Alice makes no sense to me. She orders her siblings around like an Army drill sergeant, yet flops like a fish out of water when it comes to her own life. The little glimpses Fitzpatrick gives us of this character aren’t enough to garner relatability or interest or sympathy. I feel like I am being kept in the dark on things that aren’t mysterious enough to not be revealed, yet would make the character more relatable if they were revealed.

At this point, (I am half-way through it) the whole book would be better if it just focused on Tim. Now there’s a character who has plenty of material to easily fill an entire novel, no Alice-filler necessary.

***

So, that was how I felt at the halfway point, and now that I am finished reading that is still how I feel. While Alice did get slightly more tolerable, she was still underdeveloped. I never felt like I understood her or what made her the way she was. A lot of her “problems” were those of her own making. Her father sums it up best when he says, “none of these battles are yours to fight.” And he’s right. That is why parents are parents. The overdue bills are not her problem, her umpteen siblings are not her problem, her dad’s rehab and recovery are not her responsibility and neither is Tim. She was just so frustrating that I found myself disappointed when I turned a page and the story was back to her POV.

Tim, on the other hand, was a well-developed and instantly likable character who had a true battle ahead of him: sobriety, his father’s pending deadline, his surprise “party favor.” His relationship with Cal was beautiful and endearing. He was far from perfect and made so many mistakes, but he just kept trying and trying. I liked his uncertainty and his self-doubt and his determination, though I never could wrap my head around his attraction to Alice. It’s too bad Fitzpatrick couldn’t write a female character who was equal to (and deserving of) him.

While the Boy Most Likely To is far better than What I Thought Was True, I still think My Life Next Door is Fitzpatrick’s best book. I kind of want to go back and reread it, but at the same time I am almost afraid to. What if it isn’t as good as I remember? What if I end up disliking Samantha the way I dislike Alice? Maybe I’ll just move on to some other book and keep my happy memories of MLND.

Advertisements

Kemmerer’s Thicker Than Water is a tension-fueled stand-alone that could easily have a sequel

My thoughts, like my emotions while reading Thicker Than Water, are all over the place, so bear with me.ttw

The loss in this book is so gripping and so present that it’s like its very own character. My heart broke for Thomas. Can you imagine being in such a horrible situation? Accused of murdering your mother in a new town surrounded by strangers who all think you did it? And then to have to live with your dead mother’s new husband because you have nowhere else to go? No one else to turn to? Trapped. If I had to choose one word to describe Thomas, that’s the one I’d use. Trapped by his situation, his emotions, his loneliness and other people’s isolating perceptions of him.

I liked Thomas from the start but even as I was sympathizing with him and wanting to defend him against all the jerks in that small-minded town, as the story advanced, doubts kept popping into my head until I felt as if I were playing Whack-a-Mole with my own brain.

“Did he…”

“No, he couldn’t.”

“But…”

“He wouldn’t.”

“But what if…”

“Shut up, brain! Just shut up and read!”

I enjoy it when I can’t predict what’s going to happen in a book, and I definitely felt like I was on shaky ground with each turn of the page. Even the paranormal element of the story was a total surprise to me. I knew there was something going on, but I never guessed what. The uncertainty was a driving force throughout the story and really ratcheted up the tension.

If you’ve read my reviews before, you know I hate spoilers, so I’ll just say that in the end, there are some resolutions, some remaining mysteries, and enough unanswered questions for a potential sequel, and I certainly hope so because I am not ready to leave the lives of these characters. I often have a hard time liking female leads in YA Fiction. So many come off as needy or silly or just plain dumb, but not Charlotte. I loved how Kemmerer wrote this hormonal teenager who makes really questionable decisions without ever seeming stupid or naïve. How many times does a girl sneak off to meet an alleged killer and not seem like an idiot? Not very often, but Charlotte is not like that. She is brave and compassionate and ready to defend herself. She has doubts and fears and overcomes both to do what she feels is right. Teen lit needs more characters like her.

And more authors like Kemmerer. I really enjoyed how she kept so much tension throughout the story while still making me laugh out loud. I mean, this is a heavy, weighted situation and yet, “Princess Sparklepants?” Hahahaha! And I loved, loved, loved Nicole. She’s funny and quick-witted and everything a BFF should be. Which leads to another strength of this author: secondary characters. I hesitate to use the term secondary because they are too developed to fall into that category. Kemmerer has a knack for letting us know instantly who these minor characters are despite the lesser amount of ink they get. Charlotte’s brothers are a prime example of this as well as Stan, who not only doesn’t get a lot of ink but also says very little, but even his small scenes and few words tell us readers so much about him. I would have liked to see more of him. What’s his life like after Marie? I wanted more of Charlotte’s brothers and Nicole as well. So, while I am very satisfied with this stand-alone novel, I will still be crossing my fingers for a sequel.

Whether it’s the Thicker Than Water cast or a whole new group of characters, I can’t wait to see what Kemmerer brings us next.