Quick review for a not-so-quick read. I'm not really sure how to review this because I feel like I read/listened to a 7 hour audiobook in which nothing really happened except for a bunch of really rushed romantic relationships in an overly hyped up (and very light) portrayal of New York City. The story ended right when in the midst of huge conflicts between three girls attending college and in ensuing relationships while also hiding things about their pasts they'd like to forget.
So...is this supposed to be the start of a series? Doesn't seem like it from the blurb, but if it is the start - it's a bit on the weak side. It didn't really make the most of its narrative space to round the characters and their situations. Most of it was "tell, tell, tell" with only a little bit of showcasing the actual relationships or flesh to the characters. For three teens going to college for the first time and finding their first loves, for such a fascinating time in each of the character's lives and the potential this could've had for being immersive - this was an opportunity missed.
I have no complaints on the end of the narration from the audio readers. Andi Arndt, Tavia Gilbert, and Cassandra Campbell all did a fantastic job, and they captured the feel of this novel as something of a chick-lit picture. I kept thinking of "Valentine's Day," "He's Just Not That Into You", "Love Actually" type of situations where the story cycles through different characters and relationships, and the stories intertwine with the experiences of the girls. This narrative is nowhere near as fun or dynamic as the movies, though - instead it feels a bit shallow, skimming the surface of the whole experience. If Stephanie Perkins can craft Paris as a "character" in "Anna and the French Kiss" - I would've thought this would bring a similar view to New York City. Not so much, unfortunately.
The problem is that the narration is doing too much talking "at" the reader. And while Colasanti's prose has always had a light skimming feel that would make the narrative easily digestable, it feels like each progressive narrative she writes gets less and less. More forced charm, more forced feels. There's some natural banter here that made the book fun, but it was far and few between, and even a little on the pretentious side.
The story showcases the lives of Sadie, Darcy and Rossanna as they come to college for the first time. They all share the same living space and all seem to be running away from things in their respective lives, but I felt like I could never palpate their sentiments or experiences since they all seemed to run together. There's a lot of head-hopping (and I'm thankful I listened to the audiobook, because at least that made their voices a little more easy to tell in terms of who was talking. Plus the audio narrations were great.) The insta-love relationships never appealed to me personally, and I thought the boys' personalities were bland as sandpaper. Granted, each of the girls had some difficult circumstances to consider, but I couldn't feel that. There's very little true connection to their problems versus the narrative dictating to me what their problems are and what they're relationships were like. There's some character banter which I liked in spaces, but some parts of it came across a bit too forced, especially in the vein of pop culture (I love "The Princess Bride," don't get me wrong...but that whole expansion in the book felt so forced that I honestly couldn't believe how it pushed itself along, alongside the portrayal of New York City.
And to top it off, it felt like as the girls' narratives were approaching the end, with their problems/issues coming full fledged to the surface genuinely - nothing was resolved in their respective stories. Nothing at all. This book drew out things that didn't seem significant (the materialistic references, overabundance of pop culture, which makes the narrative dated) to the overarching narrative, but when it came to stuff that was actually important to the growth and well-being of the characters, those matters were dropped faster than a hot potato. Are you kidding me? I slogged through this entire narrative just to get an incomplete story that doesn't even feel like a stand-alone?
I feel like I've fallen out of love with this author's works, to be honest. I mean, I really liked "Waiting for You," "When it Happens," "Take Me There," and even found merits to "Keep Holding On" and "Something Like Fate" - even if there were issues with those that I talked about in my respective reviews on those works. But the last several books I've read from this author felt like they didn't go anywhere or do much with the characters despite some brief moments of spark. I'm not sure what to make of it. If this does eventually become a series, I don't really have much investment to continue with it because it took me through all of that just to end up the way it did and forced its hand in the process. It's a shame, because for the premise and aim of the narrative, this could've been an awesome book - it was the way that it was written that ruined it.
I'll see how Colasanti's next narrative pans out, but this almost makes me want to move forward because I just don't see the spark I used to from her work. I don't at all. This work gets 2 stars from me for the strength of the audio performance, but 1 star for the overarching story because it just wasn't as good as it pushed itself to be.
Overall score: 2/5 stars.