Friday, June 14, 2013

Girl at Sea by Maureen Johnson

To continue the romantic trend I was feeling this week, I picked up a book by one of my favorite authors/ humans: Maureen Johnson. Part one, her twitter feed is hilarious and every day I'm not her is a day I'm not proud of. She's amazing. Her Shades of London series... unreal.

I was excited to read more of her stuff seeing as I haven't had a chance to. I stick to stalking her Twitter and other such accounts... in a loving way. Not a creepy way. Not. At. All. *cough*

If you know me and my reading tastes, you'll know that this is not the usual type of cover that I'm drawn to. I still am not a fan of this cover. At all. Just like with my last post, this cover doesn't match the book at ALL. This girl, while pretty, looks nothing like the main girl. Grr. Curse you chick lit covers. CURSE YOU. I just feel like covers like this limit books. I would never have picked this book up, even to see what it was about, if I hadn't had prior knowledge of the author. Granted, I'm a snotty person about book covers and I just... GRR CHICK LIT COVERS. 

Anyway. The book itself. This book is about Clio, an artistic girl from Philadelphia with a strained relationship with her father. She lives with her mother in a run down Victorian house and her summer plans are laid out perfectly in front of her. She got a job at her local art shop, it seems like the guy she likes will be ready to be more than just an acquaintance; all is well. But then her mother reveals that she has to spend the summer working in Kansas and is sending Clio to work with her estranged father on a boat in the middle of the Italian coast. 

Her perfect summer is now invaded by her father and a crew of other misfits to be stuck on a boat all summer. She is stuck with her father's best friend, his strict new girlfriend and her daughter, and a snarky research aid named Aidan. They all set sail on a tricked out yacht on a mission that remains secret, something Clio cannot abide. I'll leave the plot at that so as not to spoil things. 

Now, like I mentioned earlier this book is not my usual cup of tea. I love romantic stories but I usually like them drenched in about five layers of drama and history and not just served to me on a girly pink platter. This book was a fun read but for me it was a little bit too juvenile. I'm probably not the best reviewer for this kind of book because the point of this book was to be juvenile and light. It accomplished those things.

I love Johnson's writing. She is so funny and so natural and it's easy to become invested in her books. I loved the way she tied in little bits of history into the main storyline. We were able to read a few pages from the early 1900s, following a girl who is somehow involved in the mysterious treasure the main characters are searching for. I honestly found myself wishing for more history and less modern day. I'd read a book about the historical side character any day; she was my kind of woman!

As opposed to some of Johnson's other books, I didn't feel attached to these characters at all. They all seemed pretty one dimensional to me and I was frustrated with them the majority of the time. Aidan, the supposed romantic interest, was way too argumentative to even have that "I hate this boy but we are clearly meant to be" vibe. I just didn't like him. Straight up saw nothing in him worth noting. 

As a leading lady, Clio felt a little boring. She was an artist but I didn't really get that vibe from her. And I understand that teenagers often struggle with their fathers for unknown reasons and are often harsher to them than they need to be but... I was mostly just annoyed by her. It was a bit too teenager for me. But once again, I'm probably not the ideal audience for this book. 

The plot was fun. It was a bit unbelievable in some spots. My main struggle: yeah, I understand that you hate your father and that these people are not your ideal yacht-mates BUT you are still on a yacht in the middle of Italy. Maybe it's just me but I'd enjoy that. A lot. Even if I hated everyone. 

The fantasy of the book was fun. I did feel like I was escaping into the book and dreaming of the ocean, I just felt that more could be done to help get me there. Johnson's usual glowing description seemed a little dim in this book. Until the end. The last 50 pages or so were a ton of fun and made the rest of the book worth it! 

This is a good, light, easy summer read. It was much needed for the two days I had with nothing to do; it gave my mind a little vacation but it still left me feeling a little cheated. I wanted more from my Italian fling in the sea, and I think the characters did too. But if you need a light beach read, and you're a little bit of a history nerd like I am, this book will fit the bill nicely. 

Until next time, happy reading! I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for me, or your thoughts about anything I've read. Leave your comments below; I'd love to hear from you.  

1 comment:

  1. It's too bad you didn't love this one as much as I did! Although, maybe I loved it because I read it while cruising the Mediterranean on my way to Italy. What I read about totally mirrored what I saw off my balcony, and that made it a lot of fun. I can see what you mean about the characters, though. They were all a bit shallow, and Clio complained way too much about her situation. I had pneumonia the whole time I was on my trip, and I still LOVED it. She came off as spoiled for this reason. I'm glad you're trying to get more summery beach reads read! I think my favorite one ever is Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard. Have you read that one? The main girl is vacationing in Belize, and romance happens. The scenery is amazing! I've been to Belize, and you can just tell the author has too. Definitely read this one. :) It's amazing!

    - Jana @ That Artsy Reader Girl