I came here to keep in touch with all my friends who left GR after the censorship debacle. I read a little of every genre. I co-blog at Musings of a Bibliomaniac.
When the Book fell Flat (and I was not in love) - A Review
I'm not someone who doles out one-star ratings so easily. I feel particularly bad in this case since the book is a debut that's yet to be released. But this was just... not good. NOTHING about this book worked for me. Not one tiny thing. The only reason I kept turning the pages was because I felt obligated, having got this through NetGalley and all.
When the World was Flat is not science fiction. It's a romance that tries to masquerade as sci-fi and fails miserably. Worse, it's the same old stereotypical high-school romance, where the girl senses an instant connection with the new mysterious boy in town and the next thing you know, words like "soulmates" and "forever" are being thrown around.
The MC, Lillie, is yet another clone of the lovesick YA heroine with an absent mother and nightmares and low self-esteem and blah blah. She's also a terribly annoying narrator. Lillie constantly disses everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, except Tom. She defines the people around her using one-word-labels - Jo is "the tomboy", Sylv is, as Lillie constantly implies, "the slut" (SO. MUCH. SLUT. SHAMING. MY. GOD.), her mother is "the hippie", Melissa is "the meanie" - and everything that these characters do or say is bound by their labels, so they all come across as painfully one-dimensional. All I know about Lillie's mother, for example, is that she makes terrible chamomile tea because such denigrating facts are all that Lillie focuses on.
And of course, Lillie is spectacularly dumb.
"When we die, we simply slide into another dimension."
"What if you have a heart-attack?"
"I would slide."
"What if you are hit by a truck?"
"I would slide."
WTF, Lillie??!! Don't you have one functioning neuron in your brain?
Tom is no better. He's the new boy in town who never smiles, keeps to himself, seems "bothered" while talking to Lillie, drives expensive cars, lives outside town in a sprawling mansion.... sound familiar? He also has remarkable "glacial" eyes that bore into Lillie so deep that she constantly uses her hair "as a curtain" to hide her flushing face. At least, Tom doesn't glitter in the sunlight, but that doesn't stop Lillie from comparing him to a "brilliantly cut diamond". *facepalm*
The plot, though ambitious, is a shoddily executed mess. If you are going to meddle with string theory and parallel dimensions in a standalone, you cannot waste the first 60% of the book in meaningless cringe-worthy insta-love. A major bulk of the "science", if you can call it that, is explained during a dinner conversation between Lillie and Tom. It's rushed, it's underwhelming, it's boring, it's a big pile of BS.
And now, my least favorite aspect of this book - the writing.
Bad writing grates on my nerves. It's my biggest dealbreaker. Lush descriptions and metaphors are all great but not necessary; I don't mind simplistic prose in YA. But if every other sentence makes me pause and cringe internally, chances are the book will end up on my 1-star list, plot be damned.
Here's my take on Ingrid Jonach's writing: HER SIMILES ARE TERRIBLE. JUVENILE AND UNNECESSARY AND TERRIBLE. I HATE THEM.
I know you're not supposed to quote from an uncorrected proof but I'm going to because I want to know if I'm the only one who finds these sentences stupid:
"The words stuck in my mind like corn in my teeth."
"...leaving me as stunned as a mounted deer head."
"...but he was as disconnected as an unplugged TV."
"...adrenaline rushing through my body like a flash flood in a storm water drain."
"My stomach was like a front loader on a spin cycle."
"I hissed, the sound like the seal being broken on a soda can."
"The realization left a taste in my mouth like tea laced with arsenic."
"The skin on my forehead crawled like it was covered in cockroaches."
Why why WHY spoil perfectly meaningful sentences with such... ridiculous comparisons?? Corn stuck in teeth??! Cockroaches??! Tea with arsenic??! What does that even taste like? Won't you have to, like, kill yourself, to find out?
By the way, the lines above are a tiny selection. I have 57 highlights in my arc copy, all of the bad kind.
The only part of this book that did not annoy me was the ending, not because I cared, but because it was over. Finally over.
*With thanks to Netgalley for the free digital copy*