Oh, That Missing Kid: Emmy and Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?

Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.

She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.

Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.

He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.

Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?

Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

Source: GoodReads

This book was good.  And it was a fast read.  BUT it was really forgettable.

To be honest, it really wasn’t that memorable.

The premises is fantastic though.  There are lots of YA books about child abduction, but most of them involve the narrator-if the book is written in first person.  I thought having Emmy be a bystander to the whole ordeal was an interesting twist, but at the of the day I didn’t LOVE this book.

It was just a okay fast read, that I probably should’ve library-ed instead of bought.

Maybe because there was a slightly bland quality to both the main characters.  To be fair, Emmy on paper seems decently formed.  She has hobbies outside of boys, conflicts in her family, and great friends.  But I really felt like I only got to know her on a superficial level.  Oliver, on the other hand, wasn’t even superficially formed.  Sure, we got angst but I really didn’t feel for this character as much as I probably should’ve.

Which is a shame because Oliver is dealing with a lot of shit.

However, I sort of get why Benway didn’t try to focus on Oliver as much since he wasn’t the narrator.  The thing was Emmy’s story was just not strong enough when you have the premises of Oliver’s story which just has a lot in terms of drama.

The story works….but at the same time I wanted to know more about Oliver.  So maybe this would’ve worked better for me if Oliver would’ve been the focus character or at the very least there could’ve been dual narration.

Aside from the characterization, the pacing is decent.  Not a lot happened (after Oliver was found) but it made for a nice light-ish contemporary.  Though really I don’t think you can call a contemporary light when it deals with child abduction, but the book didn’t  feel dark to me.

Sure, there was some fallout from the kidnapping, but the fallout wasn’t that much considering that the book took place in Emmy not Oliver’s point of view.  Sure, we saw her parents’ anxiety but compared to what Oliver’s family was dealing with it was sort of, well, boring.

A lot of these complaints are more about what I expected for a reader than what I got.  It’s not that Emmy’s story is bad, but with what else is out there available for Benway to work with this plot I was underwhelm.

If you want a nice contemporary romance, I say go for this.  But don’t expect huge character development or major drama. There is some drama, but for the most part it is trivial at best.

Overall Rating: A B-.  While decent, I feel I will soon forget this one.

 

Advertisements

Also Known As: Robin Benway

 
Dude what’s with the knee socks?  Seriously.

I like books about spies.  Maybe it’s because I watch a profuse amount of spy shows or I just find James Bond to be hot (the British accent does something to me, ya’ll).  I really don’t know what it is, but whenever there’s a spy oriented book in YA I just have to grab it.  And that’s why I requested Also Known As from NetGalley.  And thankfully, they answered my request with a yes.

General Summary: Maggie was born to be a spy.  Her parents are spoofs and lately she’s been sort of gotten into the family business of course.  That’s when she gets her greatest mission yet: get close to Jesse Oliver.  But who exactly is Jesse Oliver?

Review:

This is a weird book for me to review.  If you talked to me after I finished the first third, I’d give it a superior or great rating.  The second third great for sure, but not superior.  But by the end of the book, it bordered on mediocre/ disappointment.  And I have to say that’s really annoying.  Because when there are portions of a book that are truly brilliant and other parts that sort of suck you just want to distribute all that brilliance equally so at least there’s some continuity in quality in the book.  So this review, it’s going to be a mixed bag.  I have a lot of nice things to say, but at the same time I’m still going to bitch.

The brilliant parts of the book: there were lots of them.  I really liked Maggie, Roux, Jesse, and Angelo.  All of them were well formed characters.  Do know how difficult that is to do in YA which is notorious for it’s cardboard supporting cast.  That’s a great thing.  Also, Benway includes a LBGT character who actually acts like a character rather than a token character.  That in my opinion is  always a plus.  However, even though a lot of these characters were well formed the parents needed to be worked on.  I don’t know if was Benway’s intention or not, but I thought at times the parents came off a bit cartoonish and sounded like teens themselves.  Also, while I loved Angelo I seriously had to wonder why he’d be best friends with a fifteen-year-old (or however old Maggie is), it was just a little weird to be honest.

This book also had great witty dialogue.  I love witty dialogue.  It heavily reminded me of Gillmore Girls or Bunheads, shows you watch for the dialogue more than anything else.  While a quick read you had to pay attention to pick up on all the little jokes that were littered throughout the work.  The bad thing about the dialogue was that sometimes it was too much and just bogged down the work.  Seriously, at times I thought I was reading Damien Spinelli’s dialogue rather than Rory Gilmore’s and that’s not a good thing.

Honestly, if anything pacing was this book Achilles’ heel.  I’ll discuss this more in the worst feature part of the review, but I felt like way too much attention was given to the whole acclimation to high school/relationship with Jesse.  Which is odd because I usually like development in these sorts of things, i just felt the whole spy plot was sort of pushed to the side which made the last third of the book very awkward.

But then again, I think this book wanted to come off as awkward.

Best Feature: Gilmore Girls Dialogue: While the quirkiness could get to me occasionally (especially towards the end).  There were some great one liners here that made me smile.  The dialogue was really what made the book in my opinion.  However, I think at the same time it broke the book.  The spy element was fairly weak and I think a lot of this was because there was so much focus on the interaction between the characters which I loved but…maybe this book would’ve been better as just a contemporary.

Worst Feature: Pacing. The pacing for this novel is way off.  The first 3/4 of the book are primarily about Maggie’s relationship with Jesse which is nice, but the spy story is swept aside to the very end.  Which, in my opinion, makes for a very messy ending.  There were also plot points that seemed to just jump the shark, i.e. Maggie revealing her secret to two teeny boppers.

Appropriateness: This is pretty tame.  Even the spy stuff is tame.  There’s some kissing and teenage drinking, and some cursing.  But it’s not as graphic as say Poison Princess.  Okay, so on second thought maybe it has about the average sort of smut you’d expect to see in a YA book.  Definite 13 and up though.

Blockbuster Worthy: This would actually probably make a better screenplay than book.  Here’s my casting picks (and yes, I sort of stole them off of Bunheads, but when a books writing is so similar to that of the great Amy Sherman Palladino then casting becomes extremely easy).

Maggie: Julia Goldani Telles: She plays Sasha on Bunheads and while I see Maggie’s character as a cross between her a Boo (also on Bunheads) it works.  Enough.

Jesse: Garret Cofey: He plays Sasha’s boyfriend on Bunheads/is the Jesse of this version of Gilmore Girls.  Therefore, it works.

Overall Rating: Seven magnifying glasses.  I was real close to giving this one a six, so maybe six point five.  It had such a strong start, but the ending really wasn’t satisfying at all.