Opinions of this book are a minefield—people seem to either love it or hate it, but I found myself caught precariously in the middle. In all honesty, I expected this book to be bad—I didn’t entertain the possibility that it might be great, and since most of my friends who review seem to hate this book, I went in with the mindset that I would, too. But my best friend and one of my friends here at school really enjoyed it, so I tried to clear out my preconceptions and go in with an open mind and a blank slate.
I discovered that this book is both good and bad. It’s good because it actually does a surprisingly good job of engaging the reader and keeping the story moving (once you really get into it). The writing isn’t terrible, though it needs some serious revision and fleshing out. However, I more than understand where the dislike comes from—the characters and the plot were mostly insufferable. Right away, you’re slapped in the face with a Twilight-rip-off insta-love and characters that are more than their fair share of stupid. When seeing what Nora sees, and knowing what she knows, there is absolutely no reason for her to fall in love with Patch—he’s creepy and he acts like a stalker most times. The entire plot revolved around whether Nora thought Patch liked her or not, and it was pretty infuriating. However, by the end, I was able to try and look past it to see whether or not a viable climax would arise, and it didn’t end up disappointing by the end.
What I Liked: Spoilers!
- For me, this is one of those books where I can’t exactly put my finger on why I enjoyed it at all. You can tell that underneath the flaws, when it comes to actual writing, Fitzpatrick is getting there. While it wasn’t perfect, I also never got a sense of hopelessness—I’m looking forward to seeing improvement in the next books, and also in seeing where the plot unfolds. I mean, I’ll admit, I didn’t see where any of it was going. Some of it was rather predictable, but once she started talking about Jules being Chauncey and everything, I was genuinely surprised. (And let me be honest, “surprise” is not something I ever expected to feel while reading this book.) So, while I can’t really explain why, it was by no means a complete waste of time, and I actually felt pretty okay about it by the end. Not a disappointment by any means.
What I Didn’t Like:
- I took a lot of notes while reading this, and the thing that struck me most was that it was typical. It was cliché. It was (mostly) predictable and convenient. Patch was introduced by page ten. It starts in biology (which the PE teacher teaches?), and a unit on sex ed (who covers sex ed in biology?). The teacher talks a lot about attraction and how to show a potential mate you’re interested, opening up a lot of flirting opportunities for Patch and Nora. Nora’s mom also works out of town a lot, so Nora (aside from their housekeeper) is mostly home alone and has the freedom to do whatever the heck she wants. And because of that, Nora also finds “good” reasons to never tell her mom about anything that goes on—because she’ll “get worried” and “quit her job and get a local job” and “they need the money” and all that jazz. So, Nora, even though she has the police come over to her house, even though she hits a man and is then attacked, even though her best friend gets maliciously attacked when wearing her jacket, and even though a homeless woman is shot after taking her clothes and hat, never says a word to her mother. And seriously, every time something bad happens and Nora contemplates being responsible and telling an adult, we get the “there’s no way she’d go/she’d quit her job immediately” speech. There’s also a part near the end of the novel where Vee, her best friend, is held hostage somewhere inside a four-story school, and Nora magically knows where she is immediately. This book suspends all reality, even outside of the angel plotline, and Nora never has to deal with actual problems, like being caught by a parent doing dangerous stuff or doing any actual problem solving since she just “knows” stuff. It was too convenient. It was too easy.
- Everyone in this book seems to be stupid. Vee never uses any common sense whatsoever. Nora and Vee want to sneak a look at Patch’s school file? Vee phones in a bomb threat from the phone outside the school. Elliot comes to Nora’s house and threatens her with physical violence? Vee justifies his actions because he was drunk and he’s been through a lot, so it’s okay. Party in a crappy neighborhood? Let’s go! Let’s play hide and go seek? Break into the school for it! She is one of the dumbest people alive, and of course she doesn’t have to deal with the consequences of her bad choices. But next to Nora, Vee looks like she could be an expert brain surgeon. Nora convinces herself that she just imagined a man smashing her car window and trying to strangle her. She reads one article about Elliot being involved in a murder investigation and immediately thinks everything he does is creepy, and she still falls head over heels for Patch despite his multiple creeping offenses. (Elliot mentions that his parents are in Australia in the diamond business, and Nora’s mental retort is, “In fact, I was pretty sure Australia had no diamonds. Period.” Because an entire continent is devoid of something just because you want to think a guy is a liar?) She dresses up and tries to flirt information about Patch out of his co-workers, and considers driving up to Elliot’s old school to ask people about a girl’s suicide—because never mind that maybe that’s a sore subject for everyone! Nora lies and tells her mom that Patch is a swimmer, and when Patch goes along with it and covers up by saying he likes to swim in rivers and lakes, Nora thinks, “If Patch really was swimming outdoors, he was either crazy or he had a high pain threshold.” (Because he definitely wasn’t also making stuff up to cover for your lie.) She actually kills herself for Patch. What? Why?? Should we even talk about why she likes Patch at all? Since he’s followed her, stalked her, locked her in several bathrooms with him, and has physically threatened and harassed her? Yeah, I always want to make out with guys who grab my sweater and touch my hips when I’m trying to get away from them. There’s absolutely no reason for her to be interested in him, when any sane person’s mind would be telling them to run screaming in the other direction. Nora is pretty much an idiot.
- Lastly, while I said there’s good writing in here somewhere, some of it was just…bad. Redundant most times, and just plain dumb other times. Like, “I wanted my life to go back to the way it was before Patch barged into my life.” Or, “Who would’ve thought economics would come in useful?” After Patch says he doesn’t have a heart, Nora has to think, “I told myself he wasn’t being literal.” My personal favorite is when Nora tells Patch that he’s, “impinging on [her] private space.” There was another obvious typo, but I forgot to mark it. Anyway, the fact of the matter is that this needs a bit of revision. Honestly, I think it’ll get better in the later books (hopefully), so I’m not too worried. I just want the characters to become a little less useless.
Overall: It’s hard to say if I would recommend this or not. It’s not a good match for people who are character driven, or want to be able to understand or empathize with the characters of the book. However, sometimes you can look past those flaws and really start to enjoy yourself, but it’s tough for me to gauge which crowds would like this and which would not. If you don’t read that much and you like romantic plotlines, then this book might be a good fit. However, if you do read quite a bit and are used to better written stories, I’d probably just steer clear. There’s no cursing that I remember, and very little suggestive language, so I think probably ages thirteen and older are fine.