Size Doesn’t Matter (163): It Started With Goodbye; Want

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (163): It Started With Goodbye; WantIt Started with Goobye by Christina June
Published by Blink on May 9, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
two-half-stars

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.

.5Though typically I cannot resist a retelling, I’m starting to seriously burn out on Cinderella retellings. Cinder aside, most feel like the exact same story over and over. The ones that don’t, like It Started with Goodbye, generally leaving my scratching my head in puzzlement. It Started with Goodbye is a unique Cinderella retelling, but it didn’t do a whole lot for me.

Many of June’s alterations to the tale could have worked had I been a bigger fan of the main character. Tatum never really made sense to me as a character. She veers randomly from being the long suffering angel like a regular Cinderella and being a bitchy brat. I’d have loved a bitch Cinderella, but combining that with self-righteous goodness is awful. Similarly, her family doesn’t make a ton of sense either. Though her father is alive and loves her and her step-mother isn’t a complete monster, only Tate has to do chores because…reasons? No one felt particularly believable, and I never had a sense of why they reacted in certain ways.

The perfect example of why I find this retelling strange is the concept: Tate was arrested because her best friend’s sketchy boyfriend stole stuff and attempted to make Tate his getaway driver (unbeknownst to her). Tate’s parents freak out, and she’s on a short leash for the summer and not remotely trusted; she also has to do community service. I struggled a lot with this because it’s weirdly melodramatic in a low-key book, and it also just didn’t make sense to me that her parents were that mad at her when she was an innocent bystander. Also, it’s pretty much bullshit that her best friend was mad at her, and Tate forgave her almost immediately and apologized for her role. Um no.

The saving grace of this one for me (though it’s not that it was bad so much as clunky) was the love interest. SK is one of her first clients on her newly established graphic design business. He plays the cello, and he’s an adorable banter machine. Their conversations are pretty much the only time I really bonded with Tate. I wish the romance had been more central to the plot than the family and friendship stuff which wasn’t as well done.

It Started with Goodbye is a decent debut, but it’s one of those books that mostly left me thinking about how much better it could have been with another heavy round of edits. It feels a bit confused still.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (163): It Started With Goodbye; WantWant by Cindy Pon
Narrator: Roger Yeh
Length: 9 hrs, 9 mins
Series: Want #1
Published by Listening Library on June 13, 2017
Genres: Science Fiction, Adventure
Format: Audiobook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-stars

From critically acclaimed author Cindy Pon comes an edge-of-your-seat sci-fi thriller, set in a near-future Taipei plagued by pollution, about a group of teens who risk everything to save their city.

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Frustrated by his city's corruption and still grieving the loss of his mother who died as a result of it, Zhou is determined to change things, no matter the cost.

With the help of his friends, Zhou infiltrates the lives of the wealthy in hopes of destroying the international Jin Corporation from within. Jin Corp not only manufactures the special suits the rich rely on, but they may also be manufacturing the pollution that makes them necessary.

Yet the deeper Zhou delves into this new world of excess and wealth, the more muddled his plans become. And against his better judgment, Zhou finds himself falling for Daiyu, the daughter of Jin Corp's CEO. Can Zhou save his city without compromising who he is, or destroying his own heart?

Cindy Pon’s Want is a fun, action-packed, sci fi adventure sure to appeal to readers who enjoy the Transformers movies.

The audiobook’s pretty good. I wasn’t completely in love with either story or performance but it was an easy listen, and I got through it really quickly (well, okay, in nine hours but over three days). The setting (futuristic Taipei) is fantastic, and I suspect this one will be a lot of fun for visual readers. It really does read like a movie. The world building’s on the lower end, but it fits pretty well with Jason’s knowledge so I didn’t mind that too much. The main appeals of Want are the setting and the action.

The weakness lies in the characters. No one felt particularly well-developed, even MC Jason. Things get off to a rough start character-wise with the group of rebel teens who kidnap a rich girl for ransom to fund their resistance efforts. What bothered me about this is that they didn’t have an actual plan: Jason went in to grab whichever girl had the most expensive suit, and that was it. They never even bothered to figure out which girl it was they had kidnapped. Like, seriously?

Then, inevitably, Jason ends up needing to pose as a rich guy to befriend the girl he kidnapped. She’d had her memory wiped, but he’s nervous blah blah. Shocking no one, they catch feelings. Jason does feel bad about the fact that he’s using her, and there’s a weird attempt to make it not problematic that she has romantic feelings for her former kidnapper, but yeah no it’s pretty uncomfortable. A ship like this could work but it needs to more overtly acknowledge the fact that it’s problematic AND they need to have powerful chemistry, as opposed to the underwhelming chemistry Jason and Daiyu have.

Worth a read if you’re looking for some action-adventure but not ideal for the character readers out there. I probably will not read the sequel.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

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