Thursday, January 13, 2011


Today is my one-year blogversary, guys! Wow. I'm impressed with myself, are you? And so for my blogversary, I present to you a book review!

For Christmas, I asked for a copy of Anna Godbersen's BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS. My mom was surprised, since she thought it was an unusual request for me. I suppose it was, but I really wanted some YA historical fiction, which is actually quite difficult to find.

BRIGHT YOUNG THINGS is set during the summer of 1929, and that, I think, is what this book's strongest point is. The setting, especially at the beginning, is almost as much of a character as the people who populate it. Some of the descriptions of life in Manhattan and West Cove are really quite nice - nothing on GATSBY, of course, but then, few things are.

However, even though I am the biggest history geek on the East Coast, pretty descriptions of 1920s Manhattan can only get you so far, and unfortunately, this was one of those books where I lost interest partway through. The three main characters were essentially stereotypes, which was fine at the beginning, but when they remained stereotypes halfway through, it got a bit boring. Well, okay - Letty, the innocent one, remained extremely naive throughout the entire book. Cordelia, the clever one, made some wildly stupid decisions partway through. Astrid, the flirt, was really the only character with any depth, I thought, because it is clear from the get-go that her laid back, teasing persona is just a front. I liked Astrid; I wish there had been more of her.

The other thing that irked me was that this third-person novel began with a first-person flashback style prologue - which, fine, that can work, I've seen it before. But this prologue, however, is wholly unnecessary. It is not from the pov of any of the three main characters. It clearly refers to three girls in 1929, so for the first several chapters, I was trying to figure out where the fourth girl would come in, the one observing everything. Well, there isn't one.

Also, the end of the prologue says that by the end of the summer, one of the girls would be a star, one would be married, and one would be dead. I spent the whole book trying to figure that out - the one twist came when it looked like Cordelia would be the one to die, not Astrid - only to discover that there is a sequel (the only hint of which is in the author's jacket flap bio) and that I wasn't going to find out after all. I was really quite annoyed at having gone through 380-odd pages just to find out who dies, and in the end not finding out at all.

I have a feeling that this is a book that could be well enjoyed by others looking for a light read - I, however, thought it did not live up to the expectations set by the beginning. It's a shame, really - partly because YA historical fiction *is* really hard to come by, and partly because the beginning was really quite interesting.

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