Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel

22 April, 2014 Reviews 21 comments

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.

Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. SheinmelSecond Star by Alyssa B. Scheinmel
Series: Standalone
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on May 13th 2014
Pages: 248
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Amazon Good BooksBook Depository

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?

Homegirl, whut?

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.

Meg Morley

Meg Morley

Co-bloggery at Cuddlebuggery
Meg is an all-around book nerd who just really wants to talk about books, preferably with other people but by herself will do. Find her on Goodreads.

21 Responses to “Review: Second Star by Alyssa B. Sheinmel”

  1. Shelly

    This review honestly summarizes up ALL MY FEELINGS about Second Star. I completely agree with everything you state here. Gahh I would go on rant about everything I hated but I feel that your review captured everything perfectly. Thanks (once again) for being honest and snarky.

    (Also, there are no gifs in this review! *gasp*)
    Shelly recently posted…Confession TimeMy Profile

  2. Jackie

    What a disappointment! I was looking forward to this book, cause I love Peter Pan as well. But if its this WTF…forget it.

  3. Ellis

    I’m going to recycle some previously used Ellis words here and then go fully original because OMG THIS REVIEW IS THE BEST CAN I PRINT IT OUT AND MAKE IT MY WALLPAPER??

    re: the review: “This is a Work of Beauty and Genius.” (originally said about Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I thought you’d might like the association.)

    re: the book: “I’m sorry, but this book is on so many drugs that I fully expect it to make an appearance on Tumblr Gets Deep.” (originally said about Red Rising, which isn’t quite on the same level of fuckery as this one seems to be, but it’s pretty close.)

    From the soggy oatmeal to the yelling at fictional characters, this review is so amazing and on point that I kind of want to trap it in a math cage, just because that way, it will never leave and be a permanent thing that survives the ages, which is 100% what this review deserves. This book sounds like a goddamn nonsensical mess and you burned it to the ground in the most flawless way imaginable.

    “You’re kind of like an instagram photo with the lomographic/toy camera faux-vintage rainbow filter applied. ”

    Dear lord, I need this on a pillow.

    Ellis recently posted…Top Twenty YA Heroines I Want In My Apocalypse Dream TeamMy Profile

  4. Kate @ Midnight Book Girl

    I so wanted this book to be Point Break meets Peter Pan. It had potential. Now all it has is a pretty cover. There was a lot of wrong in this book (Wendy Darling helping rob a house?), the only Wendy-esque thing she does is cook for the boys that ONE TIME. And you’re right, John and Michael do sound like snobdouches.
    Kate @ Midnight Book Girl recently posted…Updated WordPressy Blog DesignMy Profile

  5. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    Ugh I have this one but I’m probably definitely going to be avoiding it now! I agree, I thought I was going to love it because the idea seems so intriguing and fun, but the fact that the characterization isn’t even up to par is so sad, although I loved your Instagram filter metaphor! But at least I can take out that I shouldn’t do drugs but instead steal money and other fancy things from people to make me happier. Sorry this one wasn’t for you, but fantastic review! <33
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…Top Ten Tuesday (6): Funniest CharactersMy Profile

  6. Natalie Monroe

    “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.”

    This line reminds me of that Carrie Underwood song “Last Name”. And wonderful review!

  7. Nara

    Ugggggh this sounds absolutely terrible. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this book to be amazing (because come on, there’s the mention of a love triangle in the blurb…) but I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be this bad. I freaking hate irrational protagonists, and Wendy sounds like one of the most irrational that I’ve encountered in recent times. Time to kick this one off the TBR pile.
    By the way, did she ever end up finding the brothers? Or was that off the table because she found some hottie (or two) to hang with? lol
    Nara recently posted…Fairytale Parallels in The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa MeyerMy Profile

  8. Mel@thedailyprophecy

    I was SO disappointed by this book. I also found it strange how she thoughts Jas was bad, a drugs dealer blabla and Peter was cool. I disliked Wendy, ugh. How she steals together with Peter, how she uses those drugs without real hesitation, how she falls in love with two guys (both of them not that appealing to me). Nope, this wasn’t a book for me.

    Oh and YES, those parents.. I thought it was incredibly frustration how they already set their mind on shipping her Wendy off. They hardly listen to her :s The ending also makes me wonder why on earth I read this book.
    Mel@thedailyprophecy recently posted…Fairytale News 35. Spoilers.My Profile

  9. Christina (A Reader of Fictions)

    Hey Meg, we need to talk.

    I’m a little bewildered here. How are you so fucking awesome?

    Okay, I will stop and just read this review now.

    “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.” <- BAHAHAHA. Blythe praised the writing, but I think I'd be with you on this one. The floaty, dreamy, poetic thing rarely works for me.

    "Like a fungus!"

    Mmm, a burglar or a drug dealer? HOW WILL I EVER CHOOSE?


    Christina (A Reader of Fictions) recently posted…Review: Red by Alison CherryMy Profile

  10. Movies

    My partner and i get pleasure from, lead to I discovered exactly what I was taking a look with regard to. You might have ended my own some morning lengthy hunt! Our god Many thanks guy. Have a nice morning. Ok bye

  11. Celia

    Seriously horrible. Also, re: the shit show masquerading as an ending: how could she love these dudes that let her go through that–the self doubt and Extreme Parenting: Horrible Edition–even though they were basically like, ‘We’re gonna gtfo and work on rekindling our epic bromance–enjoy Montana & kthxbye’? Seriously, wtf. Such a disappointment.

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