Part of the fun while reading this book was deciphering the Oz-y slang used throughout the story. Some of it I guessed from context, some I looked up (I will now forever refer to an ice chest as an “esky”) and some I just didn’t bother (I think it was a word for asphalt, maybe?).
That’s sort of where the fun stopped for me, since the rest of the story was pretty formulaic. This was one of those wishing stories; it’s chock-full of things you wish you could do, like move away to an exciting new place; be away from your parents; share exciting times with a peer; change who you are without going overboard. Lexie lives with her her parents in the middle of nowhere in Australia. Since there’s no school nearby, she has to take classes online. Ever since her favorite cousin moved away with her parents to Paradise City, Lexie has yearned to join her. But her parents don’t have the money that her aunt and uncle do, and her parents love working on the land where they live and have no interest in moving to the city. Somehow, Lexie convinces them to allow her to live with her aunt and uncle and attend school with Cousin Amanda. Amanda was the best, and even though they haven’t kept in contact much, Lexie knows that she will be excited to have her there.
Surprise! Amanda is not the charming, loving, popular girl that Lexie has imagined. Not only is she horrible to Lexie, they have to share a room! On top of that, Amanda skips school, sneaks out at night, drinks, sleeps with boys, and seems incredibly unhappy. But as disappointing as this all is, it is secondary to the giant crush that Lexie has on a boy she saw at school: surfing bad boy Luke Ballantine. She will chuck all the rules to be near him.
The story is written in the style of a long-suffering teen that’s embarrassed by her parents and thinks EVERYTHING is a catastrophe. She has no mobile phone, which is pretty unusual, and though the house she is living in seems to have many bedrooms, she has to share with her surly cousin. The aunt is vapid and self-centered, the uncle, while he is aloof and unfriendly, only seems to notice when Lexie does something wrong. All the better to allow for drama, of course. Unfortunately, the drama is teen drama, which everyone knows is ten times as loud but half as realistic as real drama. And, though no year was discussed (that I remember), the musical references were pretty dated.
The sexual situations seem to be quite throw-away and blasé, especially considering how important Lexie claims that they are. Plus the boys never seem to be trustworthy in their actions, though we, the reader, are assured that they are. The conclusion was never in doubt, since there is a sequel, though it was somewhat clipped and seems to be saved for the next volume that I won’t be reading.
Paradise City by C. J. Duggan was published April 28, 2015 by Hachette Australia Books. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review. Big thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley.
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Ages: 13 and up
FYI: Sexual situations; profanity; underage drinking.