I’ve been a bad blogger lately. Though to be fair work has been extra cray cray. And last weekend cooking dinner for the week took longer than I’d like-I usually do one pot dinners, but I had the bright idea to make six sides last week in addition to my two meats and dessert for the week. Needless to say, I hated myself by the time I finished my last dish ( a leek salad) and told myself that cooking this week would be a lot simpler-probably helps that I’m going out of town but I still kimchi soup and a cucumber salad, as well as marinated some vegetables for some Korean brisket tacos (I made the meat a few weeks ago and the brisket was fantastic). Regardless, I did make plans to write up some reviews though.
I read Letters to the Lost and More Than We Tell in the span of one weekend, pretty much back to back. Overall, I liked the series. Though I really don’t know if it would classify so much as a series. It’s true it did fall into many of the cliches that angsty teen novels fall into. But I felt they overall were decently crafted. And while you didn’t have to read Letters to the Lost to understand More Than We Tell, it certainly added to the reading experience.
Juliet Young always writes letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope.
Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past.
When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can’t resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither Declan nor Juliet knows that they’re not actually strangers. When life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, sparks will fly as Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart.
I was skeptical about reading Letters to the Lost, in part because the premises sounds so depressing. And to some extent, I guess it is. I mean, the book does deal with death and grief and that in general is depressing. There’s no way around it. But at the same time there were light hearted moments to the book as well.
I think the best way to summarize this book is like if You’ve Got Mail got hit by a big stick of morbid.
You’ve Got Mail retellings are really popular in YA and a part of me wonders why. Yes, I get the romantic side of having this weird attraction to this mystery person that you’re sending letters to but at the same time there is a creepiness about it. And I really felt that creepiness with Juliet and Declan’s relationship especially when one party realized who the other party was and their handling of the situation.
Honestly, I liked neither lead. Declan has anger management issues and quite honestly I could see him easily becoming abusive. Grant it, when he and Juliet are together he’s not abusive towards her. But he was verbally abusive towards her previously and was not above manipulating her. I did not like him. However, I will give Keemerer credit for making him realistic.
I thought the backstory was well done and it explained the motivations for this character. Did I like him? No. But I understood at least where he was coming from. And to be fair I liked him more than Juliet.
I think that name is cursed. I can’t remember one book or show I’ve seen where a character named Juliet wasn’t a total goody goody asswhipe or a bitch.
This one goes more into self absorbed bitch than goody goody mode. But still. Throughout the book, Juliet is extremely depressed-which again understand the character’s actions BUT at the same time, I thought she was on the self pity train a bit too much. I kept waiting for an adult in the book to force her into counseling.
Of course that didn’t happen though. Should I be surprised..no this is YA. Rather, than having the MC see an actual counsel we just have the school counselor shame her for grieving.
Still though, character faults and lack of counseling aside, I enjoyed this book. While it was pretty formulaic I thought the story did explore grief an death in a respectful enough way. Again though, I just really didn’t care for the characters. However, I did feel like for the most parts their behavior was understandable which is better than a lot of YA books out there.
Overall Rating: A B+
Rev Fletcher is battling the demons of his past. But with loving adoptive parents by his side, he’s managed to keep them at bay…until he gets a letter from his abusive father and the trauma of his childhood comes hurtling back.
Emma Blue spends her time perfecting the computer game she built from scratch, rather than facing her parents’ crumbling marriage. She can solve any problem with the right code, but when an online troll’s harassment escalates, she’s truly afraid.
When Rev and Emma meet, they both long to lift the burden of their secrets and bond instantly over their shared turmoil. But when their situations turn dangerous, their trust in each other will be tested in ways they never expected. This must-read story will once again have readers falling for Brigid Kemmerer’s emotional storytelling.
I liked More Than We Can Tell a bit better than Letters to the Lost. The story at least wasn’t as morbid. I mean, I’m sorry I still can’t get over the slight morbidness of a meet cute by a tombstone. Anyway….like its predecessor More Than We Can Tell discuses some heavy issues while having decent characters. Though, again I do not care for the heroine. I don’t know if it’s just a Kemmerer thing but her female leads are blah.
Emma has a bit of too stupid to live going on with her and she is ridiculously judgmental. I get it, it is YA. She is a teenager, but as savvy as she made herself out to be throughout the book, you’d think she’d have just a smidgen more of common sense. She’s also completely absorbed and says some hurtful things to her bestie, her mother, and Rev. Honestly, I wanted her to get smacked down a little bit more than she actually did.
I enjoyed Rev a lot more than I liked Declan. And I was glad that he actually had competent adults to confide in. his parents were great. It was actually quite refreshing to read about parents like Rev’s in YA.
I thought that Kemmerer did a pretty good job with dealing with Rev’s past. I would’ve much rather dealt with a book in his viewpoint than Emma’s.
Emma’s plotline is relatable enough. Any woman or girl whose been on the internet has more than likely been harassed by some sort of troll. God knows, I have dealt with enough on my review of What Happened, but Kemmerer veers the plot into Lifetime territory. While I get that events like what happened int he climax of the book happen in real life, but what happened to Emma was a more dramatic version of events of what usually happens to someone who gets caught up in this situation.
It’s odd, I enjoyed More Than We Can Tell, but I really did not view it as a romance. I read it as almost two separate stories about the characters. Unlike Letters to the Lost which romance was a primary element to the story, the romance in More Than We Can Tell was secondary. The characters really didn’t interact that much, and quite honestly I almost could’ve done without it.
Not that it was bad, BUTit really almost was out of place in this book.
That aside, I did enjoy More Than We Can Tell more than Letters to the Lost, while one of the subplots might’ve gone in a Lifetime-ish fashion. I think that overall, the sequel was better.
Overall Rating: A B+ close to an A- but no dice.