Sunday, 21 September 2014

Review: Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

Title: Even in Paradise
Author: Chelsey Philpot
Release date: October 14th 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: eARC
Pages: 234

Source: Edelweiss

When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now.

It’s only in hindsight that we can point, as easily as finding a town on a map, to the moments that shaped usthe moments when choices between yeses and nos determined the people we became.
I don't really know what to say about this book.. I thought it would be similar to The Great Gatsby, and it is. But not the parts I liked about that classic. Even in Paradise would be enjoyable for people who like contemporaries I guess, but it just wasn't my kind of book.

Charlotte is a totally ordinary girl, so it surprised her when Julia Buchanan suddenly became her friend. The two of them become very close, and Charlottle even ditches all her old friends. She gets to experience what it's like to be a Buchanan, but soon realizes it's not all fun and games. Their family has secrets that they don't want getting out, and they're all actually way more dysfunctional than anyone expects. Charlotte is dragged into both sides - the good and the bad. And she has to deal with that.

Julia has a total Gatsby complex, and it annoyed me to no end. Yeah, I sympathize with her, but I didn't like any of the choices she made and I hated that she was practically throwing her life away. She's exciting and fun, sure, but also really sad inside. There's a darkness in her that she won't let out, and all of it just makes her seem a little insane. She's kind of unstable and really fragile, and honestly freaked the shit out of me at times.

Charlotte (or Charlie, as Julia - and later everyone else - calls her) is basically the Nick of this book. For those of you who haven't read The Great Gatsby, Nick is the totally boring and spectator-like narrator. Like Nick, Charlie is pulled into a life of glamour and parties, quite unexpectedly. Charlie has moral character, but it's like being with Julia negates everything she is. She doesn't seem to have much of an opinion of her own, and just becomes Julia's sidekick.

The romance was also a little weird, but it did introduce Sebastian, who's by far my favourite character in this book. Sebastian is Julia's older brother, and Charlie doesn't think it's appropriate to have a crush on him. But of course she can't help it, and she realizes neither can he. I liked their little romance, and I especially liked Sebastian. He's so adorably clumsy! Really, he's so accident-prone that it's like he was cursed to be that way or something. He and Charlie together make a very cute couple. But Sebastian has his own faults as well, and I just got so tired of all the secrets.

There's a twist towards the end that was kind of obvious, and then later there's another one, kind of a surprise, which I didn't see coming. Either way, this book just didn't hold my attention and the shallowness of the characters really dampened my enjoyment of it. If you're really into these kind of contemporaries, maybe you should give it a try. But if not, don't bother.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 2/5

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