Thursday, 20 March 2014

ALL YOU NEVER WANTED

All You Never Wanted by Adele Griffin

Alex has it all—brains, beauty, popularity, and a dangerously hot boyfriend. Her little sister Thea wants it all, and she's stepped up her game to get it. Even if it means spinning the truth to win the attention she deserves. Even if it means uncovering a shocking secret her older sister never wanted to share. Even if it means crying wolf.
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This synopsis rang a particular bell with me - it reminded me very strongly of one of my favourite books of all time, In Sarah's Shadow by Karen McCombie. So I couldn't resist it. I had to get it  as soon as I'd heard about it. Now, the problem with buying books that remind you of one of your favourite books of all time is that comparisons are inevitable and you will undoubtedly end up disappointed. I ended up disappointed.

It's a strange little book, not what I was expecting at all. Let's look at the synopsis in pieces, shall we? First of all, Alex doesn't have it all. She did, but she gave it up for no apparent reason. Of course there is a reason and that reason is the shocking secret that Thea wants to uncover. Except, it's not all that shocking, not really, and if I remember correctly, Thea never actually does uncover it. I have no idea what part of the book involved anyone crying wolf. The other two sentences, the ones in the middle, I can't complain about.

I didn't relate well to either of the characters, honestly. Alex was a bit of a drip - she had her reasons for that, I know, but I wasn't particularly interested in her. I think if we'd known her before IT happened, I might have felt some more compassion for her, but as it was, I didn't care one jot. Thea, on the other hand, I expected to engage with very well because she's a compulsive liar. And I am absolutely not one of those. Not at all. I never spin the truth or make up stories without even realising I'm doing it. I definitely do not do that. Moving on. Thea was annoying and whiny and just kind of dreary to read about.

Their chapters alternate, which could have worked really well if I liked either of the characters or the writing style. See, Thea's chapters are written in first-person past tense. Alex's chapters are written in third-person present tense. For no good reason that I could see. It annoyed me so much I almost gave up after about chapter five. The actual writing, however, I liked. Quite a bit, in fact. If we could have just stuck to one style of writing and, you know, had some characters I found interesting, it probably would have been a very good read.

Again, I might be judging this book more critically because of my love for In Sarah's Shadow, (which you should absolutely read if you haven't, especially if you have a sister you don't exactly get along with, for whatever reason), but the fact is that I didn't really enjoy it. And I have a niggling feeling I'm about to receive a second copy, as I ordered it with several other books, one of which was a pre-order, and I've just had an email saying it's on its way, with this book pictured beneath it. So maybe I'll have a copy to giveaway in the near future, if you still fancy reading it!



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