I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Second Star by Alyssa B. Scheinmel
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on May 13th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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A twisty story about love, loss, and lies, this contemporary oceanside adventure is tinged with a touch of dark magic as it follows seventeen-year-old Wendy Darling on a search for her missing surfer brothers. Wendy’s journey leads her to a mysterious hidden cove inhabited by a tribe of young renegade surfers, most of them runaways like her brothers. Wendy is instantly drawn to the cove’s charismatic leader, Pete, but her search also points her toward Pete's nemesis, the drug-dealing Jas. Enigmatic, dangerous, and handsome, Jas pulls Wendy in even as she's falling hard for Pete. A radical reinvention of a classic, Second Star is an irresistible summer romance about two young men who have yet to grow up--and the troubled beauty trapped between them.
Hey Wendy, we need to talk.
I’m a little bewildered here. How did you fuck this book up so bad? (Okay, okay, to be fair, it wasn’t entirely your fault, but, on second thought, the story is told through your eyes so actually it kind of is).
I don’t think you understand how significant it is that I disliked this book so much. Let me explain to you a thing, I was so. so. excited when I heard about Second Star. Peter Pan meets surfers, I love Peter Pan and I love surfers, loving this book is an easy jump to make. What I’m trying to say is I was predisposed to love you and that means I am generally willing to forgive a lot. Unfortunately, all the goodwill in the world was not enough for me to come out of this anything other than bitterly disappointed.
We definitely got off on the wrong foot. You describe everything in that sort of flowy, dreamy language that’s meant to create an aura of unreality that never quite clicked for me. You’re kind of like an instagram photo with the lomographic/toy camera faux-vintage rainbow filter applied. Pretty to look at but obviously manufactured to cover up the extreme lack of substance. (What I’m trying to say is you have no personality Wendy, you’re about as interesting as soggy oatmeal).
That right there wasn’t enough to make me hate you. I had misgivings but do not underestimate the force of my determination to love this book. I figured I could get used to the language, that it would grow on me (like a fungus!) until I didn’t even notice it anymore. Maybe that would’ve been true, but then the story kicked in and it was like falling down a rabbit hole of senselessness and awful.
First issue, you plan to find your missing brothers by moving into a colony of squatting hippie surfers?
To begin with, I’m not entirely sure why you’re so desperate to find your brothers in the first place, they sound like massive assholes. These are the guys who wouldn’t teach you how to surf because you might mess your hair up. What winners. But they’re your family, so I’ll accept it and move on.
My biggest problem here is your plan. I’m not sure if anyone ever explained to you how looking for someone works. See, generally what happens is you go to multiple places and ask questions, you kind of follow a trail, cast a wide net, etc. etc. You do not stop at the first abandoned house you find because it seems like a place they might have stayed once upon a time, make out with the first strange, sketchy boy you come across (not in an empowering owning-your-sexuality kind of way, but more in a your-face-is-here-so-I-should-probably-make-out-with-it kind of way) fall asleep on the rocks and then decide to move in.
Second issue, the boys. That’s right, boys plural. This book is yet another love triangle wrapped in rainbow fluff and other shit that doesn’t matter. Don’t think I didn’t notice how you fell for Peter and then swapped him out for Jas as soon as he stopped amusing you. I can see how it happened, they’re completely interchangeable aside from the fact that one of them is a burglar and the other is a drug dealer.
Let’s dwell on that for a second, shall we? For the first half of the book, before Jas becomes a viable love interest with zero warning, all you focus on is how he is an evil, nasty drug dealer. Fair enough, except you hold him up as the dark to Peter’s light conveniently forgetting that PETER ROBS HOUSES. What am I supposed to take away from that? Drugs are bad but stealing is fun?
And then, to compound matters, you can’t even stay consistent. As soon as you start getting hot for Jas in the pantelones region, the whole ‘he’s a dastardly rogue who gets kids hooked on a highly addictive hallucinogen’ is NEVER MENTIONED AGAIN. Like, ‘haha! Just kidding! That never happened!’
There’s an awful lot of that in this book and it’s annoying as hell. You spend chapters convincing me of one thing only to be like PSYCH. It makes everything extremely frustrating and I found myself wondering over and over again why the hell was I bothering with you?
Third issue, the drugs and the whole situation with your parents. Here’s that lack of consistency coming into play again. After all your talk about drugs being bad and fairy dust being the worst of the bunch, what do you do? You go to a party at Jas’ house and trip your brains out. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? HOW IS THIS HELPING YOU FIND YOUR BROTHERS? WHY ARE YOU–you know what? Fine. Whatever, I give up.
So you do the drugs, trip for what, a few days? A week? Anyway, you lose your shit and decide to go home. Your parents, who seem as awesome as your brothers, take one look at you and say ‘oh look, here’s our straight edge daughter who has sullied herself with an illicit substance, clearly she is a delusional drug addict’ (and you believe them, way to be sure of yourself, grow a spine and some confidence) ‘obviously the most rational step is to lock her in her room until we can ship her off to rehab in Montana.’ Personally, I’d call that a smidge of an overreaction as they never even bothered to really talk to you about your experiences and what happened and what you’ve been grappling with, and let me just say I violently detest when parents use OH YOU’VE DONE DRUGS as an excuse to write their kids off because they (the parents) are too wrapped up in their own issues to bother with their children (great parenting, bro) but I digress.
So what do you do next? What any girl who makes deeply questionable, poorly thought-through decisions would do. You wait around until the guy you do not know, do not trust, and up until a few days ago thought was the ultimate bad guy (but it’s okay because he took care of you while you were out of your mind and has been secretly watching you surf and, as Edward Cullen taught us, stalking is sexy) scales your wall and busts in through your window to jump on his back and run off into the night.
How did I get here, lying in bed with a guy whose last name I don’t even know? I don’t even know the name of the town this motel is in.
THAT’S AN EXCELLENT FUCKING QUESTION WENDY. LOOK AT YOUR LIFE. LOOK AT YOUR CHOICES. You are a passive ragdoll who goes whichever direction the wind (and by wind, I mean love interest) moves you.
Fourth issue, the entire end of the book. The last batch of chapters are actively painful. Out of consideration for those in our audience who still want to give this a shot, I will try and discuss this without spoilers. You know how the theme of this rant has been inconsistency and a lack of sense? (I’m talking to you now audience, Wendy’s on time out). The end of the book is all of that but amped up by a thousand. The plot careens through a series of twists in varying levels of pointless before crashing and burning in a truly epic explosion of flaming bullshit.
I closed the book and all I could think was DA FUQ?
What was the point of Second Star? What was it trying to say? It changed its mind constantly. First one guy, then the other. First Wendy is all about finding her brothers, then she just wants to surf all the time. Nothing smoothly transitions into anything, everything is abrupt and inexplicable and weird. It’s 248 pages of flip-flopping that ultimately amounts to nothing and it makes me want to both cry and break things.
If you’re the kind of reader that is unbothered by things like non-existent characterization and an extreme lack of a coherent plot, maybe this book will work out for you, there are parts that are genuinely lovely. Unfortunately, I am not that reader and this book didn’t work for me in the slightest.