Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bright Young Things Review, Anna Godbersen

I don't usually use this space for book reviews, but I've decided to make an exception. I'm currently reading Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen, and while I can't seem to put the book down I love it so much I often find myself wondering, "What was her editor thinking?"

Godbersen has an incredibly way of transporting her readers to the 20s. She does an incredibly job of creating a world of speakeasies and flappers. And this is probably the most incredible part of the book--perhaps why I love it so much. I'm a sucker for speakeasies. And I commend her for that. As I edit books based in different time periods this is often a huge issue--for me at least. People invest their entire story into an incredible era, yet they don't ever develop or create that era. If you're going to do it, you have to do it all the way. And Godbersen seems to understand this--thank god.

What had me cringing about this book is the common first-time-author mistakes...and she's not one of them. Editing book after editing book tells us not to use terms like "he admonished," or "she concluded," yet Godbersen uses these said bookisms up the wazoo. And it drives me insane. I tried to look past it. The book is good, the writing's good, what's it matter if she does this. But I couldn't. And I can't. It takes away from the dialogue--it takes away from the impact the dialogue is having. And I just can't help but wonder why she chose these words rather than "said" or "asked."

And I hate to admit it, but there is a huge plot point gone askew. At one point she's in Letty's story (as she goes back and forth between three girls lives, hardly ever connecting them--but we'll get to that...), going on and on about how Letty is going to go back to Ohio. Her time in NY was fun while it lasted, but it just wasn't going to work. She is an actress right? Surely she can make her sisters believe she had the most wonderful time in NY. But then all of this sudden it's Astrid going to Ohio... It's Astrid doing this. The author seems to have gotten confused whilst writing and has picked up from Letty's point of view thinking it was Astrid. Or maybe it was just a typo..or two or three. Surely her editor would have picked up on this right? How could she not have? So I went back and reread the section, and then I reread it again. And surely enough...she switches characters just like that! I'm incredibly perplexed by this. WHAT?? It almost made me want to stop reading the book altogether. But, alas, I've already invested 200 pages into the story, I've got to finish the last 79. I'll try to give her the benefit of the was my misreading...but I don't think it was. She's had some character issues up until this point...not this large of course, but they're there.

I'm of the opinion that you don't switch character perspectives unless it's a chapter break. It's just more clean that way. And normally Godbersen seems to agree with this. Each chapter is devoted to a different girl. But randomly she'll stop talking about one girl and pick up where the other left off. There are slight connections, but a reader needs warning when they're leaving one scene and picking up at another. And in my opinion a hard enter is not enough. Maybe it's just because I get to emotionally invested in my characters...

And speaking of characters, I just wish so much that she would actually connect them. I mean I have 79 pages left and Letty and Cordelia are still pinning over their loss of each other. They know where the other one is...vaguely...they both miss each other...just make it happen already!!!

Maybe the ending will be so incredible I just forget all of these flaws. I hope so. Like I said, she's created an incredibly beautiful world. And I want to spend all my time in it. I just can't seem to look past the ugly.

Until next time,

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