Thursday, April 19, 2012

Along for the Ride (review)

2/5 stars

Along for the Ride is a book about Auden, an obnoxious intellectual elitist, who decides to spend the summer with her father, step mother and new baby sister at the beach.  It's a story about how Auden learns to accept the uneducated masses and have a little bit of fun, sometimes.

So it's obvious I don't like Auden.  I called her inappropriate names that will not be repeated in this review.  At the beginning of the book Auden thinks she's better than everyone.  The moment she meets someone she puts them down.  She writes off everyone as unintelligent, air-headed, too pink, etc.  She's survived 18 whole years without ever meeting anyone that surprises her.

Aside from disliking the main character, what bothered me most about this book is that it wanted to give everything extra meaning.  Let's say there's a rock on the ground.  Auden would somehow have this whole internal dialogue about what the rock meant, how it was an obstacle in her path, but how she had to overcome it.  (The rock didn't actually happen I'm just trying to give you an example of the Auden shoved symbolism).

Sometimes a rock is just a rock.  Not everything has to MEAN something more.  Auden also mentally rambled a lot about how things seemed to be fate or destiny in this book.  Sometimes a cute boy is just a cute boy that you met.  The book tells me that Auden is a cold intellectual (and mostly she is) but then she rambles about fate like most girly girl you would ever meet.  For me this did not add up to a character that made sense.

For awhile things are swimming in a logical direction.  Auden is hanging out with Eli, going on a quest to make up for everything she missed in high school.  Then suddenly everything just stop.  It's illogical, annoying and I almost stopped reading right there.  It felt like "Oh we need to add another obstacle and prolong where this book is obviously going."  And I reacted by yelling at my car radio (audiobook) AUDEN BAD WORD BAD WORD BAD WORD.  Neither of the main characters understood why Auden was behaving like she was.  As the reader I most certainly didn't understand.

Overall this book felt contrived to me.  Auden is going on a quest to make-up everything she missed in high school.  Completely coincidentally (or should I say fate? I'm fairly certain Auden does) her step-mother decides that prom is the perfect theme for the end of summer beach party.  Never mind that it's an absolutely stupid theme.  Heidi, Auden's stepmom, is an intelligent businesswoman smart enough to realize that summer heat + prom dresses + sand = dumb.  What 30 year old woman wants to throw a prom?  But because everything is fated in Auden's favor, she gets the opportunity to repeat prom anyways.

All of the stars (2, pretty sad I know) given to this book, are earned by the supporting cast.  I love Heidi--stepmother with a heart of gold.  She's originally portrayed as a ditz, but she's a better parent to Auden that either her real mother or father.  Then there's Maggie, girly-girl shopkeeper by day and bike-riding tomboy by night.  For me Maggie was the highlight of the book though for the life of me I can't understand why she befriended Auden.

Note about narration: I listened to this on audiobook.  The narrator was quite good and I'll look for her books in the future. 

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