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- Why I read it:
- Disclosure: Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. Thanks!
If there's one thing Kenisha Lewis has learned, it's that the people you think you know best often surprise you the most. And not always in a good way. It seems the revelations just keep coming. First, her grandmother and her dad are having money troubles, which means she'll probably have to stay in public school and get a part-time job. And then there's her boyfriend, Terrence, who has more secrets than she could have imagined. Kenisha can't believe Terrence is dumb enough to get mixed up in a string of robberies. Or that he'd cheat on her with his old girlfriend. Or could it be that she just doesn't want to admit the truth? Where Kenisha goes, drama follows, but she's getting stronger and smarter every day. And she doesn't plan on getting played again….Brace yourselves. Because, like I said in yesterday's post, this one's going to be negative. Again. Why? Because I don't lower my standards just because a book is a romance or because it has a person of color as a protagonist, and I can't help but feel that the people who made this book happen lowered theirs.
It's especially disappointing because this book could have been fabulous, and in some scenes, is. A decent editor could have probably made it work. I know that the teen romance genre has been plagued perhaps more than any other by "whitewashing," and seeing a break from that was part of the reason I was so excited to read this book in the first place. Kenisha could have made a fantastic heroine and done so much to show teens that they can find characters not of the lily-white mold outside of issue books (much like Jazz from Neesha Meminger's fabulous Jazz in Love did).
Instead, she's whiny, vapid, inconsistent, and spoiled rotten. So private school falls through, Kenisha. Get over yourself and deal. You've got teachers that really want you to succeed - will get you on the right track to a political career, even - and great friends and family that support you no matter what. Not to mention that your boyfriend is supposed to be totally hot and is quite obviously not cheating on you, and yet you completely ignore him. Forgive me if I have a hard time getting the sympathy juices flowing, here.
Compounding the issue is a plot that doesn't seem to make any sense (this is supposed to work as a stand-alone as well as a sequel to the first book, so I'm still deducting points), and a first person narrative that takes that plot and turns it into something nigh incomprehensible. The formatting of the e-galley was so poor when transferred to my Nook that I would have had problems following it no matter what, and that's not really anyone's fault. But characters that seem to do things only because the author wanted them to do them, deux ex machina galore, and a "romance" so muddled I could never tell who the real love interest was supposed to be? That's something you can't really fix between ARC and final edition.
Lastly? Dialogue. Dialogue, for me, is what makes or breaks a book, and the quality of the dialogue here was the final straw for me. I'm restricted from copying out of my e-galley and don't really feel like typing one out, but I wish I had a scene to share so you could see what I'm talking about. It reads like parody, even when I know it's supposed to be affecting. The incomprehensible and inexplicably emo MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter postings that preceded each chapter were even worse, and I struggled to see how they related to the story at all. (Also, do most teens even have MySpace accounts anymore, much less update them?)
It might have been better if I'd read and enjoyed the first book, but this book fell so short of what it could have been that I have a hard time seeing believing it. One and a half out of five stars.
Also, guys? I really, really hate writing negative reviews.