Monday, February 17, 2014

Edna in the Desert: Maddy Lederman

{Review Request}Edna in the Desert: Maddy Lederman

Rating: 8.75/10
Series: Edna in the Desert #1
Genre: Contemporary, Coming-of-Age, Young Adult
Publication Date: September 9, 2013
Publisher: eLectico Publishing
Page Count: 167
Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis: Edna is a precocious troublemaker wreaking havoc at her Beverly Hills school. Her therapist advocates medication, but her parents come up with an alternative cure: Edna will spend the summer in the desert with her grandparents. Their remote cabin is cut off from cell phone service, Internet and television. Edna’s determined to rebel until she meets an older local boy and falls in love for the first time. How can she get to know him from the edge of nowhere?

About the Author: Edna In The Desert is Maddy Lederman’s first novel, and she’s working on its sequel. Other writing has appeared in The Huffington PostThe Los Angeles Times and The Sun Runner, a magazine about California deserts. Maddy has an M.F.A. in Theater from Brooklyn College. She works in the art department for films and TV shows, recently on The Amazing Spiderman 2 and Darren Aronofsky’s NoahShe’s a native New Yorker who loves to travel, hike, drive, go out to eat and be in the desert.

*Maddy Ledernan contacted and sent me Edna in the Desert for review which does not in the slightest affect my honest review.*

My Background: So if anybody remembers how I was saying in my New Years Resolutions post that I had signed up for ever blog tour under the sun, and felt overwhelmed because of it? Well, I had been very hesitant in accepting Maddy's request because I didn't want to overload myself, but I definitely made the right decision in doing so because this is one of the best books coming-of-age and relatable books I have ever read.

Plot 8.75/10: As you may know, this is not my usual genre. I'm usually reading dystopians and if a book is contemporary, it deals with teen issues or a heart-stopping romance. This book does not fit into either category. The thing in the synopsis that really grabbed my attention, was the fact that Edna was a technology obsessed teenager, and I admit that I am too. Even if the book had taken the cliché route where she goes from being an uber b***h one moment, to a down-to-earth angel by the end, I would have at least gotten a kick out of how ridiculous she would sound.
Characters 10/10: The very first thought that crossed my mind about Edna was that she was a rich, technology-obsessed, snarky and sarcastic Anne of Green Gables. She was a 13 year old troublemaker at her Beverly Hills school, her phone in one hand, and her attitude in another. At the same time Edna has an insurmountable amount of imagination and is a drama king that could challenge people from Sharpay from High School Musical.

What steered Edna away from being the classic cookie-cutter bad girl with piercings and crazy high lights was her age. Edna was only 13, and pretty inexperienced with the real world and what reality is. She fantasized about almost everything, she remembered scenes in play-by-play action, and she was a complete dreamer. Edna was a complete, modern Anne of Green Gables.  She also made waaay to big of a deal about being left with her grandparents (Although who could blame her? I probably would have acted the same way) without internet, or cell phone service. She is the total, modern, stereotypical twenty first century teenager package.

Besides Edna, I enjoyed her Grandfather Zeke a lot. He was a bit mysterious of a character, and somewhat of a wild card in my opinion. He was a war veteran that suffered and is still suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. So to the rest of the world, he is basically a vegetable that needs assistance on everything, including getting dressed. But the thing is that I don't see him that way. A little bit of his past was revealed, and the valiant young man he used to be, but not nearly enough to know him as a character. If I were to compare him to someone, I would compare him to Metias in Legend. Metias was only alive for the first three chapters, but he is such a prominent instigator in the story nonetheless. Zeke on the other hand only speaks two words in the book, and spends the rest of the time on a wooden porch looking out onto the same desert every day, yet that is why I love both of them. They are crucial in their respective stories, and Legend and Edna in the Desert would not be the same without Zeke, or Metias.

I loved Mary, Edna's grandmother as well. She reminded me a lot of Marilla Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables, because on the outside, they seemed rather gruff, but once you got to know them, they had hearts bigger and greater than anyone else in their stories. Edna wasn't used to her Grandmother's ways, and her grandmother wasn't used to hers. Edna seemed too dramatic, and airhead-y (is that a word) to her grandmother in the beginning, and all of her spirit was too much for her grandmother to handle, or so we were given the impression. Both Marilla and Mary were not used to young children and their "strange ways", but realize that they were lonely, and that Anne and Edna were just what they needed in their lives.

Romance 6/10: Even though Edna in the Desert had a strong focus on young love, I was not the biggest fan of the romance, and don't think I will be holding up a sign saying TEAM JOHNNY or JODNA any time soon. Some might think this was because of the large age gap (four years) between the two, but I believe that love knows no boundaries. What I didn't particularly like was the way that Johnny handled his relationship with Edna. If you were a 17 year-old that has inexplicable feelings for a 13 year-old, you are bound to feel conflicted, and make the wrong decision as how to handle it. I think this is just personal preference for me that I didn't like the way he dealed with things. I'm not saying that the couple should have done the cliché running-into-each-other's-arms-then being-picked-up-and-spun thing, but I would have liked it done differently.

Cover 4/10: While I loved pretty much everything else in the entire book, the one thing I did not like was cover. I know the saying is "Don't judge a book by its cover", but at the same time, while we try to refrain from doing so, there's always a little part in us that makes the final decision when we're standing in the library or bookstore, trying to decide whether we add the book to our already too-high pile of books. The cover, in my opinion, looked unprofessional. The background of desert shrubbery and an ombre blue sky with a glass bottle and a pink, paper flower did not cut it for me. When I finally understood the significance of the pink flower in the bottle, I liked the cover a little more, but I was already past the three fourths mark. Someone could skim through the first few pages and find out what the cover meant.

Title 8/10: I think the title couldn't have been better, except for if it was something really psychological and sounded like a quote by John Green. Edna in the Desert pretty much sums up the story in it's entirety and is very simple and to-the-point for this story, which I think was a good decision.

Writing Style 9/10: The only thing that could have been better about the writing style of Edna in the Desert is if it had been written in first person. I would have loved to get up close and personal with Edna in her head, and really found out how she perceived everything because this was her story of self-discovery and transformation. Nevertheless, within the first 20 pages, Maddy had me laughing out loud and telling my friends about various paragraphs and how funny they were. What Edna dreamed about was utterly ridiculous, but that's how Anne of Green Gables 'foolish notions' were also shown, and their wild imagination is what made these characters…them.

Feels 8.75/10: Most if not all my feels were directed at one of two things. Number one, Edna and how much I loved her as a character. Number two, how I thought Johnny was a manipulative jerk. All I can say is that this book will arouse a case of 'the feels' for sure.

Ending 8/10: My feelings about the ending are a bit conflicting. On one hand, I think it was very good, wrapped up the story nicely, but left little threads dangling for a sequel, but one the other, I thought that the conclusions Edna came to weren't strong enough and we didn't have enough evidence. Edna, as expected in an extremely cliché contemporary like this book could have been, comes the resolution that she is going to be a better, different person after her experience in the desert. While she did seem better and different on the last 20 pages, I feel there were gaps in her character development, and questions left unanswered.

Quotes 10/10: Where do I even begin for quotes? They aren't on the level of John Green, but they are hilarious and witty (is that even a twenty-first century term?), and couldn't have been written better to express Edna's extreme emotions and thought process.

"Her wide-set eyes always turned heads, but her personality, left as it was, was going to spoil everything. Jill constantly wondered what she was doing wrong."
“‘Rebellious’ implies that I’m rebelling against something when I’m clearly ill. You either have a serious lack of sensitivity, or you’re sadistic, or just stupid.”
"Jill was a respected etiquette blogger and highly sought-after public speaker in what Edna considered to be certain uptight circles of privileged ladies whose main concern was how best to please themselves next. Their second concern was purging their collective guilt about the first one by gathering for self-improvement courses, which was where Jill’s lifestyle brand, Shimmer, came in."
"It was a landline. Edna’s grandparents had just acquired a 100-year- old technology. It was not likely that they also had Internet. Or a computer."

Continuation 90%: I recently found out that Maddy is currently working on a sequel! I cannot wait to read it (hopefully she'll send me a copy) and dive deeper into Edna. I really want to learn who she is, and how she thinks (Point of View change *hint* *hint*) I want to see how her time in the desert has affected her in the outside world, and if she will revert back to who she used to be. I will definitely be reading this sequel as soon as I'm able, even if I have to go all the way to Texas for it.
Conclusion: Edna in the Desert was one of the funniest, heartwarming coming-of-age novels I have read in a long time that's wonderfully crafted characters are bound to stick with you.

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