F.X. Scully's "Because of Luke" is the kind of book I could probably get behind for the idea and the epic nature of the story when considering it on an overarching note. If I'm going based on what the premise entails, it has to do with sisters who fall in love with the same rockstar, but don't realize as their lives diverge just how close their relations with each other and the complication that comes with that. I wanted to like this story, I really did, and there were moments here where I could've said "Scully has something here that could make for a great narrative tale."
But this story's respective execution has so many issues, it ruined the tale for me. New Adult cliches aside, I was disappointed with the respective writing and presentation here. I almost DNFed this book before 50 pages because it seemed like the author went with every NA cliche she could throw into the story and I could not identify a single lick with any of the characters. I hated them, they gave me no reason to care for them or want to follow them. Plus, the presentation of the narrative worked against it. Having three first-person perspective points in each chapter is akin to head-hopping, and I'm definitely sure that selection of presentation did not make it any easier to get into the respective characters' development. I felt like I had to jump from one to the next, and that was a huge turnoff to start in this story.
But I realized as I went along in the narrative that it got easier, and there were some moments where I could see myself getting more into the situations of the characters for what the events allowed. That was what kept me continuing. The real story started when Shelia left her sister Shannon and parents behind, became a tour manager for an up and coming band, and subsequently got involved in a relationship with the band bass player - Luke. But I can tell you right now - it's not a story that I could appreciate with depth of depiction because it was hampered by cliche after cliche in formulaic drama and the presentation of it all was quite uneven, so much that it kept throwing me out of the story.
This is a narrative shared between Shannon, who's in her early 20s when the novel starts, Shelia, Shannon's sister who's not quite 18, and Luke, a bass player for the up and rising band Roscoe Gold, around the same age as Shannon. Luke starts a relationship with Shannon as he drops out of college to commit himself to going on tour with Roscoe Gold, alongside the brother who raised him when his parents could not. Shannon and Shelia are sister who live under the protective wing of their very religious family (they're preacher's kids, basically). Only a few months before she's supposed to graduate high school, Shelia decides she's had enough of her overprotective parents and gets a job as Roscoe Gold's manager. Shelia moves out, leaving her sister behind and hoping to bang Luke (losing her virginity in the process). Shannon is in a brief relationship with Luke (unbeknownst to her sister), and has a final fling before he goes off on the road for his tour. There's a ton of complications that occur in the mix (near rape attempt in a revenge plot, groupie sex, general misogyny from the bandmates). I kept feeling like slamming my head against the wall for the manipulative drama. It felt formulaic. The time jumps didn't make it any easier to follow in addition to constantly trading back and forth between Luke, Shannon and Shelia's perspectives in each chapter.
I did end up seeing some coming to terms moments for the characters in the narrative, but felt that was shortchanged by the way it was presented. I knew eventually the other shoe would drop once Shannon, Shelia, and Luke realized they were all connected, but after a certain point, it was just a lot of melodrama that didn't feel like a fuller experience. It lacked streamlining in the prose and felt tedious to slog through - some good moments within the majority of bad, and I don't say that in terms of having happy things for the character, but rather it had potentially good presentation within a sea of inconsistent quality of the narrative.
I do give credit for Scully not ending with an HEA, but I felt manipulated by the way things abruptly ended. It didn't feel like a jarring, emotional event to me as much as a cop-out to have something dramatic happen. The ending itself isn't really an ending, but a lead in to a follow-up story which I believe Shelia will be a part of. But honestly, I'm not invested enough to continue with this series if the quality's going to be as touch and go as this one was.
In the end, I was highly disappointed and felt emotionally exhausted in the wrong way after finishing this. It had moments of potential, but in the end, did not impress me. There may be some who will find value in this story for some realistic notations and coming to terms, but it's difficult to maintain interest for so long when the narrative itself could've had much better presentation than what it did. And for including formulaic New Adult cliches that have been beaten to bits that made the characters not worth the investment they could've had.
Overall score: 1/5 stars.
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.