Better Known as Privilege Teens Make Asses of Themselves in Europe: I see London and I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

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I see London, I see France
I see Sydney’s underpants.

Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.

In this hilarious and unforgettable adventure, New York Timesbestselling author Sarah Mlynowski tells the story of a girl learning to navigate secret romances, thorny relationships, and the London Tube. As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera… wearing only her polka dot underpants.

Source: GoodReads

When I was in law school, I spent one summer studying abroad in Ireland.  During one weekend, my friend and I went to Cork’s Fota Wildlife Park.  The park was pretty cool, they let the animals walk around free range.  But unfortunately, there were these bratty tourists who chased around one of the animals to the point  where I complained to one of the employees that I suspected that there was animal cruelty going on and got their asses kicked out of the park.

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Lemurs at the park.  And yeah, no cages.  If you ever get around to going to Ireland you need to visit this place. 

Yeah, I’m that sort of person.

Anyway, why am I talking about this…because those obnoxious teens, they reminded me of Sydney and her friends the stars of this book.

Though to be fair, Sydney’s friend, Kat, isn’t obnoxious for most of the book.  Till the end, where its randomly revealed that the guy who had blatantly been hitting on Sydney was really into Kat and Kat ditches her boyfriend for a random hookup but…details.

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Oops, spoiler.  But honestly, Kat is not a major character so its not that much of one.  Just that she goes from being the only decent human in the book to sort of being a douche herself.

The major characters in this book Sydney and Leela are both fucking annoying though.  Especially Leela.  Oh God, this bitch needed to be ditched so many times by Sydney I can’t even count.

She is the epitome of bad friend.  And yeah, Sydney loses her cool with this bitch at one point, but it’s quickly white washed over like…oh, I was mad at you will you forgive me.

No.

Leela isn’t the sort of person you want to be friends with.  Sydney should’ve just said screw you and left her way back in Paris when she was being a bitch to Kat and dictating everything they do.

Sydney though isn’t much better.  She is the epitome of a dumb tourist.  Doing dumb touristy things that make Americans looks bad.

Case in point, she doesn’t make reservations and wants accommodations.  Instead of trying local cuisine in freaking Italy, she eats pink slime.  Seriously, authors..why do you always act like Mickey D’s is the best thing ever.

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It fucking is not.

She also suffers from major insta love/lust in this book.  While a part of me is glad that this book is some ways kept it so casual with the relationships, on the other hand I got majority annoyed when those causal flings started going for the more generic YA twue love trope when the book started winding down.

Seriously, the relationship went from just being mostly physical to I can have a long distance relationship that’s three thousand miles apart shit.

I wouldn’t have mind it so much if there was more development than the relationship mostly being the two characters trying to hook up with each other while hiding it from their besties.  Also, had Jackson’s history also been explored more.  Leela keeps making references that he’s a man whore and there was some evidence that he was hooking up when he and Sydney were involved but it’s quickly smoothed over with the main character believing that “nothing happened” with the Kardashian model look alike.

Yeah, and collusion didn’t happen in the 2016  presidential election…

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Anyways, besides having really bad case in guys and thinking she should get a break because she was too stupid to watch watch Rick Steves’ Europe, Sidney also suffers from being a completely shitty friend herself.

She lets Leela treat Kat like crap for example.  And her behavior is Amsterdam was pretty obnoxious.

Sorry if this makes me a prude, but the scenes in Amsterdam were entirely inappropriate for a younger YA audience.  Yes, I know that smoking pot and prostitution is legal in Amsterdam.  And yes, I did expect the characters to at least go into one of the pot shops in Amsterdam when they went there, it’s sort of like the elephant in the room.  BUT having them go into a sex club in a YA book where people are having coitus in front of them.

Yeah, I get that shit happens.  But this is a YA book.  And Mlynowski’s books up to this point have generally ran on the young side of YA.  Hell, she has a younger age series that she’s been heavily focused on lately AND further more the cartoon-y like cover of the book is going to make it seem like harmless fun.  But the scenes in Amsterdam went beyond get shit faced on pot.  And the one character who didn’t partake in the antics was looked at as being prude like and a bitch for getting mad that her boyfriend had decided to volunteer at the sex club.

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Yeah…

I’m sort of surprise the editor didn’t raise issue with that scene.  Like I said, as an adult it didn’t bother me but a thirteen year old reading this shit it would be too fucking much.  I know if I had a kid that age I wouldn’t want them reading that sort of shit.  And TBH it wasn’t so much the drug use or sex club that bothered me as was the characters reactions to the so called prude like character.

I mean, God forbid you didn’t want your boyfriend to take off some other woman’s bra.

Besides the obnoxious characters, I got annoyed with the fact that I couldn’t get absorbed into any of the settings.  This book does visit a fair amount of countries and honestly I didn’t feel any of them.

Sure we’ll get some touristy attractions thrown out there, but for the most part the characters could be vacationing anywhere and it would’ve been the same story.  And for fuck’s sake, how do these kids have money?  When I was in Ireland, I didn’t have time to hop on a plane fly to some random country not the continent and spend thousands of Euros on stupid shit.   Grant it, I was in school and these yahoos were backpacking but still.

And then there was Kat’s internship.  Must be some nice fucking internship that allows you to randomly take off long periods of time to just hang out with your idiot friends.

I know, it’s a book that suspends large parts of reality BUT it still got annoying.

As far as plot is concerned, other than the not so melodrama of the physical turned twue love relationship between Sydney and Jackson there’s really not much plot to this one.  Oh wait, there’s the annoying subplot about the agoraphobic mom that really goes nowhere.

I didn’t even know what the point was of that shit.

Anyway, this one annoyed me.  It wasn’t bad but I didn’t like a single character apart from Kat and like I said she started grating on my nerves at the end.  Apparently, this one is going to have a sequel (I’m betting companion) too.  Let’s just hope it doesn’t take place in that sex club in Amsterdam.

Overall Rating: A C- if you like the characters and are on the older side of YA this one might work better for you than me.

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Gimme a Call: Sarah Mlynowski

I heart time travel.  I think in part because there are so many directions you can go with the topic.  It’s also a recent trend in YA books.   Well, sort of. I’ve read one, now two books about time travel.  It’s an automatic buy me for me and when the books by Sarah Mlynowski how can I not pick up the book.  Obviously, I did or else why would I be writing this review of her book Gimme A Call.

Summary: Devi is depressed.  Not only has her boyfriend, Bryan, dumped her, but she is going to the cruddy state school.  In the words of Joseph Conrad, “Oh, the horror, the horror.”  To combat this depression she does what most people do, a.k.a. get some retail therapy.  However, as Devi’s luck with would have it her phone somehow manages to fall into one of those wishing fountains at the mall- you know, the ones that are full of coins, mall food, and more than the occasional piece of gum.  Something happened to her phone  when it was in the fountain, and Devi finds that she can only call her past self.  Yes, Devi’s future self can talk to her past self.  I wonder if Mlynowski was inspired by this.

Review: Mlynowski always  comes up with such cute complexes that are flawlessly executed.  However, as cute as the book was I did have some problems with Devi.  Both Devis.  Frosh Devi seems a wee bit naive for a fourteen-year-old, while older Devi is a tad bit callous.  While it’s a nice contrast, it makes Devi a  bit unlikeable.  The other problem I had with the book was Devi’s boyfriend, Bryan,  he came off a little bland.  Though overall, these two things didn’t really take away from the book.  This is a fun book.  The concept allowed Mlynowski to explore how minute changes could affect a character’s life.  In  a weird way it almost reminded me of those choose your own adventure books, save for the fact that the reader is not choosing their own adventure it’s older Devi telling Frosh how to change her/their lives.

Best Feature: Time travel.  Obviously, I am a fan of time travel.  I watch lots of Dr. Who.  I’ve seen those Back to the Future movies countless times.  And I actually read what Albert Einstein has said about time travel.  And for someone who doesn’t usually  like anything that deals with physics, this should further show my devotion to the subject matter.  I really liked how Mlynowski  handled the whole time travel aspect without having Devi physically travel back to the past.  Kudos to her on that.

Worst Feature: Bland and confusing characters.  I was actually shocked that this was the aspect that bothered me the most about the book.  In Mlynowski other work, most notably the Magic in Manhattan series,  the characters appear very unique and quirky.  For example, I just adored Rafe, the hero in Magic in Manhattan, while with Bryan I felt like I never got to known him.

Blockbuster Worthy: Yes, this book is very cute.  I could easily see it being made into a movie.  After all, Hollywood does love time travel.  Here’s my cast:

Devi: India Eisley.  Personally, I hate the show she’s on, The Secret Life of  the American Teenager.  There are way too many shows on teenage pregnancy shows already  and, well, in order to watch the show I needed an incentive.  The last time I watched it was because my roommate promised me chocolate chip cookies if I’d agree to watch it.  However, I think I might need something a little stronger  next time like rum cake.  But one of the few good things about the show was India and I think she’d play Devi beautifully.

Bryan: Corey Monteith.  He seems to be a perennial pick of mine.  But he really suits this role.  He’s the guy everyone is after, looks like a jock.  And, oh yeah, he’s Canadian.  Just like Bryan.

Overall Rating: Six out of ten cell phones.

As always comments make a blogger happy.

M 🙂