When I saw the tag lines on Netgalley and Goodreads for this book, and the high ratings on Goodreads, I thought, “Great…a YA mystery and adventure. I like all three genres!” But what this is, is pre-pubescent porn with a rubber-stamped plot and stereotyped characters.
The book starts out with a bang and I was definitely hooked, wanting to know what was going to happen next. I could see a multitude of mystery plot-lines that might take place, and I was curious to see which way this book was going to go. It took the rather predictable path — which is fine…this is a book geared toward younger readers.
The plot, essentially: Somewhere in the South Pacific, a small nation’s princess gives birth to a child … the result of an affair with a ‘commoner.’ The child is whisked away so as not to embarrass the royal family. Years later, a disaster hits the family and every known, living member of the royal family is killed. Is this a horrible accident, or part of a plot to over-throw the throne. Cut to today… a young man, Max, going to school for journalism, is given the assignment of investigating a young woman, Blakely, who is attending a private school. Max’s boss believes Blakely might be the only heir to the island nation’s throne. Blakely has no knowledge of her birth parents…only that she was adopted as an infant. Max, of course, is extremely good-looking and a star athlete (rugby), in addition to his investigative journalism skills. Blakely is beautiful … every boy on campus wants to date her, but she’s sworn off dating. (Guess where this is going….) Max gets a bit too involved and his instructor wonders about his objectivity. Blakely’s identity becomes known to those currently in power on the island nation, and only Max can possibly save her.
The pastiche of YA story types is just a little too much for me. The Princess Diaries is the most obvious of these. (I know, I know…there are difference. Please don’t send me emails explaining them all to me!)
The writing moves along quickly, but I never felt that we knew just what path we were on. Is this a book about the mystery of the unknown princess? Is it a romance with the princess mystery as its surround shell? And then we wonder whose story this is. Is it Blakely’s, the potential princess? Is it Max’s, the investigative journalism student? None of these questions can truly be answered easily, which is the source of my problem with the book. We spend more time on the budding relationship between Blakely and max than anything else in the book. The fact that this is “A Lakeview Novel” muddies the waters even more. Lakeview is the school Blakely (and undercover Max) attend, suggesting that this book is about the happenings at the school, more than it is about Blakely’s history or Max’s investigation.
And I have to talk about the sex. Yes, these are teenagers, and teenagers think about each other in sexual terms. But the gratuitous inclusion of sexual thoughts further distracts from any story. There were five instances that struck me enough to highlight while I was reading. Instances that stuck out as unnecessary, whether or not it might be exactly what teenagers are thinking:
“Max was finding it difficult not to stare at Marley’s open shirt. Her chest was abnormally large, and the girl definitely wanted people to notice. A chest like that couldn’t be good for her back; how the hell could she go for a run without knocking herself out?”
Really? This is fifth grade boy humor, not the thought of a mature journalism student. But maybe Max isn’t as mature as he’s made out to be. His other thoughts include:
“Damn, she had a rocking body; her legs bloody well went on forever. He kept wishing that maybe she’d lose her suit when they crashed, but the blue and white bikini top stuck to her like glue.”
“”Those are great jeans, he thought, watching her walk toward the washrooms. Damn, I’m lucky.”
And when Max and Blakely are just beginning to find their relationship, he grabs her and says,
“‘You are a nasty little wench!’ Max chastised, pulling Blakely down onto his lap as she walked passed him on the bus.”
And Blakely isn’t much better. Take, for example, this brief exchange from early in the book:
“…Remember, I’m not interested in anything that has a penis this year.”
“Oh my God, get over yourself.”
“Hot or not, I’m telling you, I don’t care.”
“Well, I think he’s yummy.”
“Gross, you have a boyfriend!”
“Yeah, but I’m not blind.”
This all sounds like what I imagine a Harlequin Romance novel to be like, not a YA mystery.
Clearly I am not the intended audience for a book like this, but that was not made clear in the book descriptions I’ve seen, and I’m also not sure who is the target audience. The above sexual references indicate that this is for high school readers, and the fact that it focusses more on the relationship between the two main characters would suggest it’s a ‘romance’ more than anything else.
Looking for a good book? This is a simple romance for younger readers without a great deal of plot.
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author: Stacey R. Campbell
series: Lakeview #1
publisher: Green Darner Press
ebook, 278 pages