Monday, September 28, 2020

Review - Since You Asked...

Original Title: Since You Asked...
Author: Maurene Goo
Published: June 25th, 2013

Publisher: Scholastic


This book is definitely one of the stupidest, most pointless pieces of nonsense I’ve ever read. I can’t explain how unbelievably glad I am that I read Maurene Goo’s other books first, because if I had started with this one, there would have been no way I would have continued reading her work, missing on her actual good novels. I still recommend the author and I think she’s great, and if you are going to judge her, please, do not do it based on this novel.

One of the most annoying things in this book was that it has absolutely no plot. I tried to find a storyline to follow after the accidental submission of the wrong article for the school newspaper, but it wasn’t possible. It’s just not there. Instead, this book can be defined as a bunch of random scenes in the life of a fifteen-year-old girl named Holly Kim, that are not even interconnected, nor integrate a bigger plot the reader can follow. Everything is so messy, with so many ridiculous characters, that there are not positive aspects to it, nor things I can say I liked. For one, it includes everything I hate about American movies set in high school. It’s full of stereotypical characters who do nothing, and seem to be created to fill space, resulting in one of the most boring pieces of literature that I’ve ever encountered.

Holly Kim, our young protagonist, turned out to be a completely unlikeable person after just a couple of pages. I mean, I get why people would like her, as she only has a couple of close friends in a school where people virtually don’t know who she is, but it’s not my case. I personally found her to be too whiny and opinionated for my taste (not that being opinionated is a bad thing, when you actually have something to say, which isn’t the case here). Half of the book consists on her columns in the school newspaper, and the only thing she does there is complaining, and saying how much she hates school events and holidays, like Valentine’s Day. And as reader, I can’t do much with them, except reading them as I wait for the actual plot to show up. But, definitely, one of the things that most bothered me about Holly was her constant whining and the fact that nothing was good enough for her. She first complains she has to spend Christmas in Las Vegas with her big family, and then, because she gets to buy her own presents, and she doesn’t even give us a reason why she hates that. She just does. And yes, her parents may be annoying, but let’s be honest, she doesn’t make her job any easier.

As every protagonist written by Maurene Goo, Holly is Korean-American, but, unlike in the other books by the same author, here her family is big and loud, instead of small and tight-knit. But her parents… *face-palm*. Her dad is nice, but does nothing nor says much. And her mom, oh my God. She’s absolutely cartoonish, and irritating, with zero redeeming qualities. I can practically see her with the anime throbbing vein in her forehead, in literally every single scene she’s in. She only lives to question Holly, scold her, and say she’s a bad daughter. And at the end of the book, they hug, and it’s like nothing happened. There’s no development, no deepening in their lives, no meaningful conversations… Nothing. Simply, nothing.

As I said before, this book is just a bunch of events and people that are not connected with each other. Holly’s supposed close friends are nothing but background noise. Their families and physical appearance are briefly described, but them, as characters directly related to the protagonist, have no distinct personalities –except for a few things, that are not enough. Same as the other characters. Maurene Goo wrote a whole scene in which Holly goes to this Matthew Reynolds’ house to interview him for the newspaper, and meets his autistic little sister, and absolutely nothing happened after it, to justify that I had to read it. At the very least, I thought Matthew would become the love interest, but not even that happened. So why writing that in the first place?

As for the romance aspect, it’s non-existent. Around Valentine’s Day, Holly keeps getting presents and cards from a secret admirer she bashes in her column, and as I read, I discovered myself feeling zero curious about who could it be. And when it was finally revealed, I just wanted to flush the book down the nearest toilet. The guy turned out to be a Latino boy named Alex Garcia, who we had NEVER seen before, in the entire book. Not once. And what the hell is that supposed to mean? How am I supposed to care about someone I’m seeing for the first time, two pages away from the ending?

I can’t with this. No. Just no.

Most of the time I felt like Maurene Goo was about to tell me something great, and at the end, NOTHING happened. Like when we meet Holly’s cousin Sara. Or when Holly secretly goes to buy a dress for the school dance; there’s an entire scene dedicated to it, as she tries one dress after another without any luck, finally setting on one that fits her perfectly, and in the end, she doesn’t even go to the dance. Or even worse, when she and her whole family go to Las Vegas for the holidays, there’s this huge description of the city, as Holly chases after the kid who ran away from his family, and when you move to the next chapter, the whole Christmas scene has passed, without anything having happened that was relevant to the plot (except more yelling from her mom). I could have cut those three things out from the book, and nothing would have changed. Literally, nothing.

And don’t even get me started on the Battle of the Bands or the ballet class, because those are just more random scenes that serve to no purpose. And Holly, honey, please, do not joke about school shootings. Never. They are not a laughing matter, and I shouldn’t be the one saying it. The author herself should know better.

So, in short, this book sucks. It’s terrible. But, I will say, I know for sure Maurene Goo is so much better than this, and that with her other books, she proved she’s a good writer. Give her a chance with titles like The Way You Make Me Feel and I Believe in a Thing Called Love, because there you can truly see character development and meaningful friendship and family bonds. I’m glad that her style and her characters’ build-up improved with each new book she released, and I look forward to her work, even if her debut novel wasn’t everything it could have been.

Thanks for reading, guys!
See you soon!


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