Wednesday, June 18, 2014

{ARC Review} Frenemy of the People: Nora Olsen

Rating: 5.5/10
Series: None
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary Romance, LGBTQ+,
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Page Count: 264
Source: Netgalley
Format: eARC

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Synopsis: Clarissa and Lexie couldn’t be more different. Clarissa is a chirpy, optimistic do-gooder and a top rider on the school’s equestrian team. Lexie is an angry, punk rock activist and the only out lesbian at their school.

When Clarissa declares she’s bi and starts a Gay-Straight Alliance, she unwittingly presses all of Lexie’s buttons, so Lexie makes it her job to cut Clarissa down to size. But Lexie goes too far and finds herself an unwitting participant in Clarissa’s latest crusade. Both are surprised to find their mutual loathing turning to love.

A change in her family’s fortunes begins to unravel Clarissa’s seemingly perfect life, and the girls’ fledgling love is put to the test. Clarissa and Lexie each have what the other needs to save their relationship and the people they love from forces that could tear them all apart.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

My Initial Thoughts: I'm sitting here, on a Tuesday afternoon, trying to figure out how on earth I should describe Frenemy of the People because it was such an unusual book. I have a lot of complaints about FotP particularly about word choice that may have been altered in the final novel.

Characters: If you expected some lovely rainbows and butterflies story where the main characters go through tremendous change and growth.... you won't be getting that here. Clarissa is an extremely unusual character in the aspect that she is an extremely ignorant one. I swear, I knew more than she did when I was eight years old than she did at almost eighteen. She has apparently lived an incredibly sheltered life in a ritzy home and neighborhood. Yet that is absolutely no excuse for being CLUELESS about your financial situation (which was going down south), and not even knowing what the word "foreclosure" meant. I could swear, I kept waiting for some point in the novel where she would do a (cliche) 180 in terms of character, and become this better person because of being in love and being exposed to the world. At least that would be realistic to the "movie magic" (book magic if you will) feel Nora Olsen might have been going for.

Lexie. Well, in the first chapter, I thought she was the contrast to Clarissa's severe idiot syndrome. And I was right about the contrast she provided.... for all of the first two chapters of the novel. After that, I was just reeling with major "What the hell is happening?" reactions. I honestly don't understand how this book made it past the editors, with a character being so complex and caring about worldly issues one moment to being downright juvenile the next. I hope this changed in the finished version, because if it didn't..... *crickets*

Clarissa's Coming Out: Somebody needs to punch this girl in the face, like right now.... please, somebody just punch her. I mean, I made a whole category of this review dedicated to her "coming out." I myself am not part of the LGBTQ+ community, so I can never know exactly how coming out works, and have never had the struggle of not being accepted for who I love. Yet I know enough to know that no one can just wake up one day and decide to be bisexual like Clarissa did. I am not kidding whatsoever, she was literally at a horseback riding awards event, texting her friends, and she decides she's bisexual. I mean, I would understand if she had been holding it in for a long time, and finally revealed it to her friends, but that SO was not the case. Somebody brought up the topic of kissing girls and BAAAAM! Clarissa declares she's bisexual. 

Just. Like. That.

Does anybody else who has read the book, or understand from what I am saying that that is the most unrealistic thing that could happen in a realistic fiction novel. Anybody?

Originality: As I was reading reviews, a pattern I saw was that a ton of people thought there were too many Lesbian sterotypes. Especially Carelessbookgeek who pointed out the stereotypes for Lexi as 
Vegan. Tomboy. Punk. Smartass. Doesn't Like People. Dumpster Diving.

Personally, I live in a very open, accepting environment, and was not aware of these particular sterotypes, but I do see how they could be very annoying an unoriginal. 

***Spoiler Alert***
Clarissa and Lexi ran over Clarissa's now foreclosed house with a bulldozer. Let me repeat myself. They ran over Clarrisa's house with a FREAKING BULL DOZER!!!! Does no one else see why I am so distressed and CAPS LOCKING here?!? This is the kind of thing crazy girls do in movies that wind up with them being arrested, or showing up on Pretty Little Liars. This book does not have witches and goblins. It is trying to be a story about two girls trying to navigate their lives in a generally conservative high school and be in a relationship. Not something that could, would, and never should happen.
***End Spoiler***

#Disappointment: What really disappointed me was the fact that the story of Frenemy of the People could have been told really well. It would have had the whole two-unlikely-people-end-up-in-a-relationship-against-all-odds situation, which is albeit overdone, but still could have been endearing and sweet. Instead the characters were so idiotic, plot events were generally impossible, and the book overall did not make much sense. I also think adding the LGBTQ+ aspect could have made FotP a novel that was truly thought provoking, about characters overcoming diversity. Instead, it almost seemed like something Olsen just tossed in to spice up the story a bit.

Conclusion: A story that could have been heartwarming, about change, and growing as a person, ended up annoying me a lot because of its unrealistic characters, and plot elements.

What about you? Have you ever had that one book that you just didn't enjoy, that felt like the author tossed in a bunch of ingredients into plot element stew and called it a day?

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