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Tall Girls Have Short Memories

Aspiring Author Who Loves Books, Writes About Books, and Tells the Truth As She Sees It (From Way Up Here)

Currently reading

A Game of Thrones
George R.R. Martin
A Princess of Mars
Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Seelye
Redemption's Ride
B.A. Tortuga
Zoe Archer
The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet
Robb Wolf, Loren Cordain
Uncommon Criminals
Ally Carter
The Locker Room
Amy Lane
Born To Darkness
Suzanne Brockmann
Size 12 and Ready to Rock
Meg Cabot
Money, A Love Story: Untangling Your Finances, Creating the Life You Really Want, and Living Your Purpose
Kate Northrup


Unraveling -

I have to split this review into two sections.PLOT/PREMISE:First, I have to say that I actually really enjoyed the premise of the book a lot, once the author bothered to actually GET to the ACTUAL premise. We spend a long time dealing with Janelle and her whining and Ben and his ability to bring her back from the dead, blah blah blah, but once we find out how and why he has that ability, then things finally get interesting.I've seen a number of other reviews compare this book to the show Fringe, and I can totally see that but the idea of alternate universes is not unique to Fringe. Star Trek is famous for its "Mirror, Mirror" episode (evil!Spock, in the sash, in case you weren't familiar)- this is a standard sci-fi trope. For the most part, I felt like it was handled pretty well here. There were a few callbacks to Fringe- Elijah's insistence that his father was coming for him made me think of the Walter/Peter storyline for sure. I liked the idea of these young boys playing around with things they didn't understand and getting stuck in another world, desperate to get home and not sure how to do that, exactly.The abilities they ended up with were just a random side effect, and not something that they were born with or even had to deal with back home- that was a fun twist as well. As a side note, this is another moment where I'm sad that this was a first person book, because I really would have liked to have spent time with the three boys from the other world, to see how they were dealing with their abilities, how they spent their time together, how they spent time in their foster families, etc. Instead, we were stuck with friggin' Janelle and we missed out on all of that. I also would have liked to have seen how they discovered those abilities, how they experimented over time, etc. That's the stuff that I found interesting.I appreciated, more than I can really express here, that it wasn't a cliffhanger ending and that the story did have an end. I liked how it ended, that it wasn't a "Happily Ever After", mostly because I didn't think Janelle deserved one, but that at least some of the characters got what they were after.That Janelle rescued Ben in the ocean the moment that he initially crossed over was a bit much for me, although it did have a nice circular element to it. It just felt very clean and a bit too neat, especially when so many other elements in this story had the same clean and neat feel to them, as well. It was nice to know that the reason he was there to save her was because he created the wormhole that brought the truck through in the first place- it was his fault.I liked the science, although WOW, was there a giant info dump there at the end. The sci-fi element of this was not paced very well at all. It was almost as if the author didn't decide that she wanted to make it a sci-fi novel until about 60% into the book and THEN we get everything all at once, in giant chunks. It's like the romance and the sci-fi couldn't be mixed in together smoothly, it ends up like a tub of Neapolitan ice cream- a slice of vanilla, a slice of chocolate, a slice of strawberry, touching but not swirled.I wish there had been more about the IA and that part of the story, but again, I think that was a side effect of it being a first person story. Janelle didn't get that info, so we didn't get that info. This had a lot of potential as a sci-fi story had it been in third person, with the possibility of multiple person perspectives.I'll get to Janelle momentarily, but I wanted to touch on the investigation a bit here and my problems with how it was presented. We're told (and boy, how we're told A LOT) that we've got this brilliant girl. She's a math genius, she's got a photographic memory (that is forgotten about by the author almost immediately), yadda, yadda, yadda. And yet she misses so many clues. When the boys tell her their story, Janelle never figures out that it was what they drank that protected them when they went through the portal- you'd think someone as smart as she's purported to be would have figured that out. Over and over and over again she assumes things about clues she's given, things she sees/reads/etc.. She makes a list of what chlorine does without doing ANY actual research, either on the internet or with a book, assuming that her personal knowledge would be sufficient. She's the worst kind of investigator- the kind that fails to actually RESEARCH before drawing conclusions that she acts upon, and people end up dead because of it. Horrible.JANELLE/THE ROMANCE:Janelle is horrid. She's a horrible person and a horrible character. We're told many things about her, how wonderful she is, how smart, how brave, how strong she is, and yet when she acts, we can only see how selfish she is, how unable she is to see past appearances, how easily fooled she is by the surface of people.I think I would have preferred if this book would have been in third person, if only to give some distance to Janelle. If I didn't know what she was thinking, I might have been able to convince myself that she was a better person than she came across as on the page.Janelle seems incapable of making good choices. She makes a big deal about reading through her father's files, about working cases, but while she might have the facts, she doesn't have the experience to deal with them appropriately. She knows there is a LITERAL ticking clock and yet she goes out on dates instead of sharing information with her father. She wastes days dithering over boys and "romance" instead of trying to help her father save the world. Janelle knows early on that the stakes are very high and yet she wastes time and lots of it. And from a storytelling perspective, solving the case with days left on the clock isn't nearly as interesting as waiting until there is less than a day on the clock, so setting the clock with so many days on it means that there should be much time to waste for a romance.But if you approach this plot with any kind of realism, Janelle's behavior is atrocious- how many lives hang in the balance and she's risking it all for puppy love? Really? And she's always ABOUT to tell her father, or Struz, what's going on, maybe, but something IMPORTANT comes up, and she just doesn't get the chance… but why worry, I mean, there's still time, right? I mean, what's a few days in the grand scheme of things, right?I wanted to feel sorry for her, because of her mother's issues and her father's work schedule but I never quite could work up enough give a shit to really care that much. I wanted nothing more than for Ben to get back home to his family and was very upset at the prospect that he might, in fact decide to stay with Janelle at the end of the book. That is never a good sign, when you are upset at the idea that the two leads of the book might actually end up together. He's too good for her, and I hope that he finds someone else more worthy of him as a person in the other universe.You can tell me all you want that a character is a thing- strong, brave, smart- but you have to SHOW me that they are that thing and I never saw Janelle really be any of those things. I saw her be selfish and smug, judgmental and hypocritical- all of those things more than anything else, to the point that even when she did exhibit any positive behaviors, it was still, at least to me, off-putting.We're given numerous examples of what I assume are supposed to be reasons why she's the way she is, things that have shaped her, and for other characters I think I might have felt sympathy and in fact, HAVE felt sympathy. Veronica Mars is a great example and it's pretty clear that the author is trying to mold Janelle after Veronica. But there is something in Veronica that draws my empathy that Janelle doesn't seem to have and never is able to achieve. Veronica I always wanted to give a hug, Janelle I just wanted to punch in the face.OVERALL:I found the storytelling to be inconsistent (she has a photographic memory and then she doesn't- the author apparently forgot about that part) and the character work to be shaky. The plot was fun, but every time the urgency of the plot would start to get rolling, it would get derailed by the stupid romance. I was glad to see Ben go, because he was far, far too good for Janelle, and he deserved to get back to his family. I would enjoy reading more in this universe, but only if it had NOTHING to do with Janelle, at all.