Would I Recommend it? Yes, but only if you can tolerate depressive MCs and like historical fiction.
Let me start out by saying that Jennifer Donnelly is an amazing writer and that the book is worth reading because of her writing. It’s got a great voice and is snarky and over all amusing. The writing gets this book high ratings, for sure. This is not a fast moving book and it takes a while (a loooong while) for the plot to really get started. Also, from the back, I thought there was going to be a stronger paranormal element. There isn’t. Paranormal things don’t happen for over three hundred pages.
It’s about a teenage girl, named Andi, who lost her little brother and is angry at herself and the world. Her dad is a super genius who bailed on the family after her brother’s death, real stellar father of the year material. He makes her go to Paris for winter break to get her act together and get her senior thesis done. That is where the story finally starts! Over a hundred pages in and she’s finally in Paris. A hundred pages of building… and that drove me crazy. The pace in this book is lacking. It’s very slow.
And, moreover, Andi drove me bat shit crazy. I hate her. I really, really hate her. I can’t stand her. She’s a world class fuck-up and super depressed over her brother’s death, and blames herself. She has it tough, yeah, I know, since her dad sucks and brother got killed but… I can’t stand how she escapes from it all by just continuously popping anti-depressives to numb herself to the world. She’s just so damn weak that it drives me crazy. And she’s stupid, too, and jumps to really dumb conclusions. Like when she sees this French guy she likes kissing the cheek of another girl — Oh no! He has a girlfriend!. No, you idiot, he’s French and you have a very deep understanding of the culture — which she mentioned tons of times — because you spent half of your childhood in France and your mother’s French so you know that kissing someone on the cheek to say hi is like shaking hands for the French! I mean, come on, how dumb can you get? I swear Donnelly only did that to add drama, but it was annoying drama because — if you are an intelligent human being — you know that he doesn’t have a girlfriend.
Plus, when Andi tries to off herself… I’m just got beyond frustrated how she messed it up every time. It’s not a good thing if I’m rooting for her to get it right already. She tries twice within the first hundred pages (I think that’s right) to kill herself and fails. The first time I was like “Well, that’s a bummer that she feels that way” and then the second time? I was like Please just take that step and jump! Luckily, I like the extra characters. G, Lili, her mom, Alex, Orleans, Amande, V, Virgil, and Jules are all great. Plus, I was already so far along that I couldn’t just stop reading and I was interested in finding out what happened to Alex, the little Prince, and Virgil. I couldn’t care less what happened to Andi. I was kinda hoping she’d end up dead in the end. I know, I’m mean, but she really bugs me. I just can’t stand her whole I’m so sad I’m going to pop pills to feel better act.
Go four hundred pages in, though, and the book starts to get good. Really good. The ending makes it completely worth the read. Did it make me like Andi? No. I still don’t. I never will. But the ending was just so… perfect for the story. Donnelly’s skills shine through at the end. I was reading the end during my lunch break and didn’t even touch my food. I was that mesmerized.
I don’t hold it against Donnelly that I hate Andi. Hey, if she can invoke such a passionate feeling from me because of a character that’s talent. But how long it takes for this book to really get going was a problem. It’s probably the books biggest weakness.