Enjoyed the diversity - hated pretty much everything else.
I'm going to tell myself that this is the last time I'm reading hyped book that everybody absolutely loved, but we all know it isn't true and I will never learn.
I bought the book because of the raving reviews and then it just kinda sat on my shelf for a couple of weeks, because I had an inkling that I wasn't going to like it. And look, I was correct. At least I know myself.
Main reason for me suspecting from the bat that I won't like this was the setting - I can't think of something I care less about than Hollywood (old Hollywood in this case). That's just not my thing. And while my opinion about the "stars" who would do anything (and I mean anything) just to get a little bit of spotlight was already very low, this book lowered it even more.
It's been a couple of days since I've read this, so my feelings aren't as angry as they were right after I finished it - so maybe this review won't be a disaster after all. But what used to be a very coherent and informative review in my head is now merely a half remembered ramble.
I guess saying that everybody in this book is a horrible human being is a good place to start as any. Except Harry and Monique's mother. Everybody else is honestly barely a human, they are quite the monsters. Starting obviously with Evelyn herself. I'm thinking that the idea of this book was to show that even people like Evelyn are real, raw and as vulnerable as anybody else. I think. Because I did not get that. If I was supposed to feel any pity whatsoever towards her - I didn't. I honestly think that she deserved what came to her.
And I love morally grey characters. They are probably the most interesting ones to read and "dissect" for me. But, Evelyn is not morally a grey character, in my opinion. Because morally grey characters do wrong things mostly for the very right reasons. Or do good things for wrong reasons - Evelyn did everything in her life for one reason and one reason only (pardon, two reasons haha) - fame and money. Even if she claimed otherwise, it was always about fame and money.
It's hard to talk about this book without smiling anything, so !!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!!.
!!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!!. !!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!!. !!!! SPOILERS AHEAD !!!!.
Evelyn is very flaky as a character. I don't know if it was done on purpose, or if she just wasn't fully developed as a character. As she is telling her story she makes both statements which contradict one another a 100 percent. Evelyn says that she learned her from mistakes and she knows that she did everything wrong and that she chose all the wrong things to pursue in life, while all she ever wanted was love and family. 30 or so pages down the road Evelyn says that she would do everything she did again exactly the same and that she doesn't regret a single decision. Which is it Evelyn? Did you learn from your mistakes or did you not? It's a yes or no question, Evelyn!
I don't think she learned anything. It is shown through many, many decisions she kept making throughout the book, but it is definitely solidified with her last decision. When Evelyn encountered something she couldn't cheat, something she couldn't sleep her way out of - she decided that she would just rather die than let the world know that breast cancer beat her.
First of all, how cowardly is that? Second of all, her daughter died from breast cancer - a true and loving mother would never take her own life, but would battle it and live through what her baby lived through, because no pain is too great for a mother that truly loves her daughter. If anything, a true mother would have thought that the experience, no matter how painful it is, would bring her closer to her daughter still. Third, for all her "caring" about Grace - did she even think how Grace would take these news?? Grace was sent on a lovely vacation - imagine her coming back and finding that her employed killed herself? Throught out the book it was made clear that Grace cared for Evelyn, so Evelyn's last act wasn't just cowardly and selfish, she managed to hurt another human being in the process yet again.
And how maddening was the scene in the hotel? "... and you knew that he wasn't going to use a condom...." Evelyn, you are a grown woman, tell a man to get a f-king condom or he can go and blow himself if he doesn't. She thought herself in control of that night, but that detail shows that she really wasn't at all. Sure, you can argue that her plan wouldn't work if she told him to wear a condom, but hey she's an actress she could have simply told him that they are too hot, too young and too famous to have a baby from the first time having sex (he's a grown man he knows how babies are made) and that would have sobered a rock star like him up real quick.
I can honestly talk for pages about how much I hated Evelyn, but there would be no point in that really. I can just as well love the book even if it has a horrible, morally corrupted main character (Lying in wait by Liz Nugent is a great example of that, I loved that sick and twisted book so much!), but other things have to work in the book for me. And so far the characters and the setting did not. So let's move onto the plot.
It was just okay, I guess. People keep calling the book revolutionary, but I just don't see it. The plot twists were pretty cliche, and not that well executed in general. Especially the scene with the car crash - oh don't get me started on the scene with the car crash. I'm sorry, are police officers on the scene were actually blind puppies?? Because you can't just pull a body out of the car, take it to the hospital and pretend that the other person (you f-king left there to die) was driving, and that the actual driver just died from a heart attack! The driver had cuts all over his face and his neck was bleeding, his blood was all over the car - Evelyn bought the silence of a cabby driver and some nurses, but what about detectives and police? This scene needed way more research done.
Also, what was the point of Monique's side plot line? To show that she could walk away from her husband? To show that she can get the job she wants? What was the point of her mother coming to town? I wanted to like Monique but she was so underdeveloped, it wasn't even funny. She was just there, just another captivated audience member to the show that was all about Evelyn. Sure, there was that big twist at the end, which wasn't as shocking as it surely intended to be. Sure, Evelyn was the one who would "understand Evelyn's need to take her own life and not interfere" because, her Monique is apparently also a coward). But as a whole, her character was very and sadly bland.
While I'm on the subject - we lost so many people to suicide in 2018, you'd think that a book wouldn't try and promote the message of "dying on your own terms" or whatever, any further. Suicide affects everybody - not just the one who dies, it leaves a plethora of hurt and pain and emotions to the other people. If anything books should be telling the message of "keep going" , "it will get better" , "get help" , "sure, it hurts, it's painful, but it's how the life is and it's worth it". You do realize that the book is probably influencing tons of depressed teens and adults who think "hey, if Evelyn did it maybe should I?". I wouldn't wish this kind responsibility on my worst enemy. Sure, Evelyn had no family left, but Evelyn is fictional, and the readers are not. By the way if you are reading this and you are in a bad place emotionally, just remember that you are not alone, you are loved and I am always willing to offer a listening ear and a comforting word.
Moving onto the romance - the only real feeling of love I got was for Harry and Evelyn - that was love, everything else was either lust, possession, obsession or the need to control. I felt lust between Evelyn and Celia, I felt great friendship between them, but their love was so toxic, I am hesitant to call it true love, because that's not what true love is or should be.
Speaking of true love, it seems that the concept is very lost in this book. When Monique's mom describes her love for Monique's father - in the book it's described as soul mate love, as the purest love of all relationships in the book. And it totally ignores the fact that her husband cheated on her? Kept secrets from his so called soul mate, and led a second life with a man. You don't lie to your soul mate - that isn't true love.
The only thing that kept me going with this books is how compulsively readable it was - it was definitely a page turner. But mostly because things kept getting stretched out and Evelyn kept hinting at things to keep readers engaged - which is a cheap writing trick, but hey, it worked really well. I honestly couldn't put it down, no matter how mad it made me.
Speaking of writing - I enjoyed it - it went really well with the tone of the book, and did a great job at describing shocking parts about the "glamour of Hollywood" But, to me it held no emotion. People kept promising tears with this book and I didn't even tear up once. I'd call myself a cold hearted bitch, but I cry at videos of puppies eating carrots, so I know it isn't me this time. The way things were written gave away a lot of the things that were going to happen, so when the sad thing happened, I already knew it would and thus had no emotion to show for it any longer.
Also, the conversations felt very stiff at some points. Especially when Evelyn was explaining her sexuality to people - what should have came out as a natural conversation felt like a school lesson with Evelyn just drilling the same point over and over again. I think that took away from believability a bit.
Obviously, from this long and ranty review you can tell that this book did not work out for me. But that's just me. Lots of people loved it. I am okay with being in minority. I'm not here to change people's opinions, I am here to simply state mine. I am also not here to apologize for my, I guess popular opinions, because there are mine. I felt what I felt and I constructively expressed that.
Freelance BETA reader.