Thursday, 14 August 2014

ON THE FENCE

On the Fence by Kasie West

For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she's spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game.

To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can't solve Charlie's biggest problem: she's falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.
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Oh, this was not a good reading experience. And I thought Kasie West could do no wrong. Literally, no wrong. I loved Pivot Point and The Distance Between Us, and I'm sure I'll love Split Second when it finally arrives in paperback form. So I figured I would love this. And that was probably part of the problem - my expectations were high. Like, basketball hoop high.

There's little plot here, which I expected, except for a strange "twist" that smacks you over the head even though you saw it coming a mile off. It was just so unnecessary and shoe-horned in, it made me cringe. And then there's the lazy characterisation. Charlie has three brothers, but only one of them has any sort of personality, and even then it's slight. The other two...well, my suspicion is that she was given three brothers to explain her being a tomboy. Um, why does she need any brothers to be a tomboy? Some girls just are. Even if we're going with this, she really only needed the one brother, and maybe then Gage could have been a little bit more developed (I can't even remember the names of the other two and I literally finished this book yesterday.)

Charlie herself fares a little better in the characterisation game, though her love interest Braden is about as interesting as the fence she talks to him through. Maybe I would have liked Charlie a bit more if she'd decided she wanted to be more girly, rather than feeling like she had to. I get that this book is all about the message be yourself and I can respect that, but honestly, it wasn't really that interesting to read. And the dialogue isn't up to much either. It's so stilted, in a lot of places, which strikes me as very strange because West's other books didn't suffer from this. I don't have my copy to hand or I'd quote a few, but I vividly remember cringing every few pages at the cardboard teenagers and their equally flat dialouge.

My favourite bit was Caymen's cameo appearance, which probably says an awful lot about this book. It just wasn't as good as its predecessors, and, honestly, it might even have soured my opinion of them a little bit. I don't know what happened, but this book most definitely did not work for me.




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