Kind of an aggressive title for a book review post, yes? Honestly, it was the first thing that popped into my head when thinking about the two books today. Based on their titles I thought they would be snack food reads—high in calories but with almost no nutritional value, salty or sweet, and not good for you, but which we all crave from time to time. Instead, both made excess into an express train to Crazytown.
I Take You starts off well with Lily, a bright, high-powered divorce lawyer who comes across as someone who parties a bit hard, but is still young enough to get away with it. She’s engaged to an erstwhile archeologist who works at The Metropolitan Museum in NYC—of course, because that is where the best of this genre takes place—lots of bling, culture, food, booze and ways to get in trouble. There has to be a conflict and soon enough we see that it is that Lily really likes sex, lots and lots of it, with all kinds of different men. Not too surprisingly this becomes something of a problem as the wedding date approaches. Before anyone gets all Victorian—this is not a romance novel or erotica. The sex is not porn-y just high-frequency.
Enough of the plot. If author Eliza Kennedy was trying to write a novel satirizing societal shaming of women for their sexual needs, then, all right, I could go along with that. I don’t believe women are biologically programmed to be more chaste than men and when you’re an adult, single, and responsible what you do with whom does not bother me in real life or in fiction. Except. Except when you are supposed to be in a monogamous relationship and then, sorry to anyone who feels otherwise, I do have beliefs about monogamy. So, when Lily cheats, feels bad, cheats some more, rationalizes it, I lose interest fast. I don’t like it in a man or a woman. And when Kennedy decides to press the point that fidelity is an outdated concept then I’m over it. I’m not looking to be the morality police in my reading, but anything done for shock value alone is not something I want to read. Plus everyone in the novel ends up being batshit crazy. Everyone.
I picked up I Met Someone because it used the words “Hollywood actress” in the synopsis and that is a junk food reading trigger for me. Add “emotional thriller” and I’m there. My bad. No, actually, the author’s bad because if he had held true to the core of the plot as a contemporary drama about a Hollywood lesbian power couple and owned the bling, extravagance, and superficiality of that lifestyle the novel might have worked. Adding in ancillary plots about a teenage hacker who works for Anonymous, is estranged from his father, whose mother is a stand-in for the actress, some twists involving the healthcare system, being forced to give a child up for adoption and well, it goes on from there.
Even then, the novel could have been outrageous, campy fun or satire. Instead what is essentially a Jackie Collins plot is wrapped in Faulknerian prose. I Met Someone is bedazzled with five words when only one was needed leaving the book to sink under its own weight.
How about you? Where do you turn for junk food reading and what’s worked for you lately? Or…what has gone off the rails into Crazytown?