Friday, 13 May 2011

Forget You by Jennifer Echols

2.5 stars. (Young Adult)

I really wanted to love this book. The premise alone is very captivating – Zooey gets into a car accident after a school football game and can’t remember anything from the time she left to the time Doug, the guy she think hates her, pulls her from the wreck. They have an intense moment once she’s safe and the next day it seems Doug knows a lot more about the crash than she does – since all of a sudden he’s acting like they’re together.
I was so intrigued by the thought that this girl is walking around with amnesia and there’s a big important chunk of the night missing from her memory. A pretty significant part by the way Doug is acting. So why didn’t I love it?

1. Zoey is probably the stupidest character I have ever encountered in a book! I very rarely have such strong reactions to characters but Zoey was definitely the exception. Talk about naive – no that’s too generous a word to describe the idiocy that is Zoey Commander. UGH! I swear I tried to like her. When she sleeps with Brandon (it’s her first time, no less), a guy she knows from school who has become her friend over the summer I thought okay, you’ve just experienced something traumatic (this is pre-accident, something happens at home and Zoey is reeling) you’re allowed to make a poor choice in judgement. But for the next few days at school, Brandon all but ignores Zoey and yet for some odd reason she believes and insists to everyone who will listen – mostly Doug, that Brandon is her boyfriend. Brandon is what we here in 2011 would call a man-whore. He sleeps around with everyone and just before Zoey and he had sex, was asking her advice on how to get in another girl’s pants. Somehow, because Brandon and she were friends before they had sex, Zoey thinks this automatically makes him her boyfriend. And I thought to myself...hmm...a guy sleeps with you once in the back of his Buick, turns you down when you try to get him to come over, go parking or generally give you the time of day and yet of course you would think he’s the one for you! This girl is messed-up! I forgave her for her brain malfunction early on in the book because I understood that sometimes when we like someone and they treat us worse than we deserve, we try to rationalize and justify the person’s actions to make it okay for ourselves. BUT, at some point we do get a clue. Zoey never does. She’s an idiot plain and simple and as I continued reading I became more and more frustrated with her and her behaviour towards herself and Doug, it’s like she had massive blinders on. I scoffed every time she insisted to Doug that she couldn’t be with him because Brandon was her boyfriend, then I nearly threw the book across the room when Zoey said that Brandon was the only good thing in her life. Seriously?! What?! The guy who sleeps with everything in pants, ignores you after you get in a car crash, seems to be diddling the girl next door is the one good thing in your life? I think Zoey needs help.

Ultimately this issue with the main character and narrator of the story was the huge downfall of the book. Her behaviour and lack of insight or rationality caused some major plot problems that trickled out from just her characterization and experience into the plot of the book as a whole. Doug seems to really care for Zoey, but because of her behaviour I couldn’t wrap my head around why! He’s such a sweet guy underneath everything and I wanted to smack the shit out of this stupid girl and tell her to get a clue. Her need to be perfect wasn’t even well developed beyond her incessant proclamations that Brandon was her perfect high school sweetheart and she needed to be perfect for him.

The secondary characters of Keke and Lila, twins and Zoey’s best friends were lack lustre and uninteresting. They had basically no purpose in the book beyond being her friends for added page time. Zoey’s dad was also a class A Jackass. I couldn’t imagine living with a man like that, having him as your father. He’s a despicable character who made me cringe every time I read him in a scene. For that reason alone I sympathized with Zoey – but only to a point.
The only character I really cared for was Doug. He’s hot for one, and you can tell just by the way he’s described and the things he says. I knew I liked him instantly. He was the only bright spot here for me and the reason I kept reading. The writing is also good, and you can tell Echols has a way with words.

There were moments I really enjoyed, in particular the really sweet scene post-accident when Doug drags Zoey from the wreck, also the scene when Zoey and Doug are forced to share a seat on the bus to a swim meet. But ultimately these moments, although giving the book a lot of promise, failed to save it for me. As the pages turned and I got closer to the end I had to force myself to keep reading only because I wanted to know what exactly happened between Doug and Zoey on the night of the crash. I kept knocking off stars as I read as well because Zoey just became a caricature of herself. I couldn’t believe some of the things that went on. And honestly it’s all in the small details. The lines of dialogue between Zoey and Doug became stiff and awkwardly worded. They’d make jokes and I would have to read the lines twice to try and figure out what was so funny. It all lost motivation for me and I was ultimately very disappointed with this read.

I’ve heard great things about Jennifer Echols’s writing and I know that so many people find her amazing. I was so looking forward to this book because the premise sounded so unique. I have Going too Far, ready to be read and I really hope that it fairs better than Forget You. I’m giving this author one more shot to wow me because this book was nothing but emptiness wrapped in a pretty package. Harsh I know, but I’ve never had such a strong reaction to a book before. It aggravates me that it had such potential and fell so far from the mark.

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