Monday, July 2, 2012
Book Rant: Second Chance Summer
Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve.
As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance—with family, with friends, and with love.
This is Morgan Matson's second novel (her first being the famous AMY AND ROGER'S EPIC DETOUR) and I'm afraid it suffers a little from second novel syndrome. While overall, I enjoyed the novel, I think it was mainly redeemed by the ending, which was well written. The middle on the other hand, dragged significantly. It took me A LONG time to get through this book. I started it probably several weeks ago and in the meantime, finished quite a few novels.
The thing I liked about the novel is still what I enjoy about Matson's writing in general. She has a very conversationalist, easy-going voice, and it's pleasant to read. Yet she has a much more polished style than a lot of authors I've read who do sugary-sweet summer romance YA contemporary. That much, at least, has not changed from DETOUR.
Unfortunately, SECOND CHANCE SUMMER doesn't have the rest of the charm of the first. I think one major problem is while the first novel was a roadtrip and therefore had a built-in structure to keep the plot tight and move it along, the second novel lacks that. As a result, it sort of meanders through a variety of storylines, some of which are, frankly, not engaging. Like DETOUR, this novel too employs the use of flashbacks to deliver back story, except the story is unnecessarily coy with why Taylor's former best friend/childhood boyfriend hate her, and then when the reason is unveiled, it's pretty dumb.
Henry, the love interest, is not particularly interesting either. He was cookie-cutter and bland, and by the end, appeared to be there when he was needed and conveniently not there when he was pushed away. I don't know, he just seemed like a prop rather than a person. (I shouldn't compare too much, but Roger was way better. I realize Roger was also perfect, tan, super nice, and a history major to boot, but at least he had goals.) I'm getting bored and impatient with the deluge of boys in fiction who have perfect tans/bods and no interests other than being shy and in love with the main character who is not described to be anything other than normal-looking. Like, I know great boys exist, but seriously.
On a positive note, the family interactions were good and a definite redeeming quality. The premise of the book is so tragic but is nonetheless carefully and movingly developed. I wish the book had stayed more with the family-bonding aspect than the summer romance aspect, but whatever. I'm not the writer. When she wants to, Matson can still write the hell out of a gut-wrenching scene. I would still recommend this book despite its flaws as a solid -- but not incredible -- read. Probably won't leave you with any lasting impressions, but it's not terrible.