Thursday, April 13, 2017

ARC Review: Literally by Lucy Keating

Title: Literally
Author: Lucy Keating
Publication Date: April 11, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 256
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A girl realizes her life is being written for her in this unique, smart love story that is Stranger Than Fiction for fans of Stephanie Perkins.

Annabelle’s life has always been Perfect with a capital P. Then bestselling young adult author Lucy Keating announces that she’s writing a new novel—and Annabelle is the heroine.

It turns out, Annabelle is a character that Lucy Keating created. And Lucy has a plan for her.

But Annabelle doesn’t want to live a life where everything she does is already plotted out. Will she find a way to write her own story—or will Lucy Keating have the last word?

The real Lucy Keating’s delightful contemporary romance blurs the line between reality and fiction, and is the perfect follow-up for readers who loved her debut Dreamology, which SLJ called, “a sweet, quirky romance with appealing characters.” 

Annabelle's life is perfect. She is ├╝ber organized and in control of every moment of her life. Everything is planned out and just the way she likes it. Until one day things don't quite go according to plan. Annabelle learns that she is a character in a book being written by Lucy Keating (the actual author of this book). As ridiculous as this sounds, Annabelle starts to see Lucy's influence everywhere in her life. But Annabelle doesn't want to be controlled by someone else. She wants her life to be what she wants, not something designed by a stranger.

Alright, let's get this out of the way right off the bat...

This book was literally awful.

Sorry, I couldn't help it.

Seriously, though...what a cool concept, right? A character meeting their maker right on the pages of the book. An author becoming a part of their own creation. It actually sounds a bit like every author's and reader's dream - to become a part of the story. But man, oh man, did this good idea turn sour quickly. Right from the start, I knew this book wasn't going to end well. If it wasn't such a short read, I probably would have stopped reading. But it was like watching a train wreck - I couldn't get myself to turn away from the literary meltdown that was happening before my eyes.

The story itself was just plain old bad. There was such an opportunity to make something really cool happen, and it was just so lackluster and predictable and boring. Instead of taking the opportunity to really explore character and author relationships, we just spent most of the book listening to Annabelle whine about how she couldn't decide which boy she liked. Lucy Keating herself was barely in any scenes. Even discounting my unhappiness with the plot, the book was really poorly written as a whole. It felt like a decent first draft for a novel. As if this would be the manuscript that is first submitted to an agent before it goes through rounds and rounds of editing and rewriting. There was a good concept, but the execution was horrible.

Something that really bothered me about this book was the character of Lucy Keating herself. [Note: I mean nothing against Lucy Keating as a person with these statements.] The Lucy Keating in the book had written six novels, all but one of which made the New York Times bestseller list. Movies were made out of her books and she had a large fan base. The Lucy Keating of real life has written one book and (while it received lots of rave reviews) it did not make any bestseller list. Honestly, I don't care that Lucy Keating hyped herself up in the book. Live out your dreams in your fictional world, Lucy. Go for it. BUT. The way book Lucy was presented felt....egotistical. She was a jerk that thought way too highly of herself. This probably wouldn't have bothered me as much if the book as a whole had been better. But every time there was another accolade laid on book Lucy, it made it really hard to not think of real Lucy that way. I don't have any negative feelings toward real Lucy, but this book made it REALLY hard to separate the author from the work...because the author was IN the work. (And the author was an egotistical jerk in the work.)

All in all, I had a truly horrible experience with this book. I will be incredibly wary of picking up any books by Lucy Keating in the future. This was one of the hardest reviews I have ever written, because the author is actually a part of the book, making all of my criticisms feel way more personal. I promise, they are not personal. I hate that I had such a bad reaction to this book, and I wish that it had lived up to the awesome concept that it promised. But ultimately, it was a complete failure for me.

(This book was so bad we didn't have a star rating graphic for it.)