***CAUTION: There is bad language in the review.***
It is a rare thing for me to not be able to finish reading a book, especially when it is an author requested review. I take ARRs very seriously. Unfortunately, Pretty Unlikely now has the distinction of being the second read to review I could not complete. To use the vernacular, this book is a total and complete hot mess.
I don’t even know where to begin. Do I mention the over-the-top drama, especially between the mother and daughter? The fact that the day they move in, there are gunshots nearby? That her mom was given “more custody” and decided that the dad could never see the kids again? That the daughter’s actions are the complete opposite as to her inner monologue? This is a 13-year-old’s diary in ePub form. And the book cover! Gross.
Anna Strouse is really mad at her mother. Really. They have abruptly moved from Michigan to Cleveland, Ohio during Anna’s junior year (I think it is during. It is hard to tell). Though Anna laments leaving her huge house in Dearborn, the house she moves to is bigger still. Mrs. Strouse, aka Shirley, is a 37-year-old mom to Anna and her older brother, Tanner. Shirley is divorced, refuses to let Anna or Tanner see or speak to their father, has lots of boyfriends, dresses like she’s 27 (or at least looks 27 to “75% of people”). Though Anna mentions in the opening paragraphs that her mother usually speaks with a “sweet tone,” that must have ended after they left Dearborn. She and Anna spend most of their time with each other yelling, screaming and being super sarcastic.
Anna and her mom go out to dinner, and on the way home from the restaurant (where the male who seats them is referred to as the “hostess”), they drive into a ditch trying to avoid hitting a truck. Jerry the tow-truck driver comes to their rescue, and he effortlessly pulls them and their car (no scratches or dents) out of a hole. Of course, Shirley is attracted to Jerry, and they decide to date. Because, of course, their “eyes matching with amaze” would lead to this. No one calls the 911, State Farm, an “ambulance truck” or in any way cares that Anna was knocked out “stone solid and cold” and may have a concussion.
The new house feels strange and creepy to Anna, so it doesn’t help matters when she starts hearing a tapping sound coming from her closet. Or when the tapping changes to banging. Once the movers arrive, though, she is attracted to Riley, a cute 22-year-old who now thinks Anna is 18. Because she lied. He “sparkles a smile at [her]” and later “beamed his eyes into [hers]” and then asks her out. Though he doesn’t live in Cleveland, he clearly knows where to party. The normally quiet and addiction-free Anna inexplicably decides to go on a tear. She gets drunk, dances on a stripper cage (yes) and then Riley finds her driver’s license. Busted! Now he knows she’s not 18.
Once home, Anna hears the tapping/banging again. She gets super brave and opens the door to find…a rat. OK, I don’t know about you, but the first thing that I am not going to do if some rattus rattus comes hauling A out of my closet is cuddle with it. And name it. And screech at my mom that I am keeping it. Of course, the tapping continues, and that’s when Anna finds the switch in her closet that opens a door to a laboratory. (I guess the real estate agent wasn’t aware of this when Anna’s mom bought the house.) Anyways (sorry! I mean anyway), of course there’s a monster named Isaiah who has been kept prisoner there for 85 years. Apparently, Anna is the first to hear his tapping. Isaiah is a monster along the lines of Frankenstein. He accidentally killed a few people, but he didn’t mean to. He’s really very sweet. Somewhere in here we learn that Anna has cheated death not one time, but several; she starts school and meets a cute guy named Bobby and Tanner comes home early and surprises her.
I still don’t know what this book is about.
Pretty please: edit. Edit, edit, edit. I see that I was reading the “Bloody Extended Version,” but seriously, this book could have easily been half of its 362 pages and have been much better. There was a lot of restatement and/or too much description, like “We paid the bill, I mean my Mom paid the bill” and “I saw a piece of paper with words written in black ink.” Also, word usage was a little strange, like English was not the author’s first language. For example, “candle lights” instead of candle; “watery vases” were on the restaurant tables; “a blouse shirt” instead of either blouse or shirt’ “roll curlers” instead of rollers or curlers; “exposed themselves into eyes.” And what the heck are low fat sugar free apples?
When writing, the real information needs to be, well, real. Tanner goes to law school, but everyone keeps referring to it as college. And he lives in a dorm. And his professors call his mom to tell her he isn’t doing well. It’s law school, not college; I never knew anyone in law school who lived in a dorm; and find it highly unlikely that a law professor would call a parent during the first semester. “First year, they scare you to death” goes the law school saying; not “First year, they call your mommy.”
There was a lot of bad language, which I know teenagers know and/or use, but the parents of teens who are the market for this book would not appreciate it: everything from lard-ass to bull shit to bitch to the F bomb. The most vivid, however is this: shit out a food baby. Or was it when she called a stripper at the club a toilet drinker? That Anna is all Klass.
Obviously, this book was just getting warmed up where I left off. I am sure readers will find out what really happened with Tanner at law school, why Jerry’s so strong, if Anna and Tanner will ever get to see their dad again (an alchoholic, BTW), what happens to Isaiah the 6’6” monster, why some men glared at them and whether Anna starts to like Cleveland. But it is pretty unlikely that I will join you.
1 of 5 Stars (Based on Ink and Page’s Rating System)
Genres: Young Adult Fiction Fantasy
Ages: Not stated
You might want to know: There is a lot of bad language (see review)
Pretty Unlikely by Emily Hodson was published March 29, 2012 by CreateSpace. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review.