Sunday, April 20, 2014

Frenemy Of The People by Nora Olsen

Clarissa is a wholesome seemingly well off teen who loves horses. Lexie is a rich, socially conscience activist who loves butterflies. Two very different personalities that become unlikely friends as they partner up to make Clarissa’s sister homecoming queen. The newest victims of the foreclosure crisis, Clarissa and her family find themselves in danger of losing their home. Clarissa  looks to Lexie for advice and support soon finding their friendship deepening to love. 

Frenemy Of The People is book that had a few memorable scenes and moments where I connected with the characters. There were a lot of interesting ideas that were presented but I felt it became over burdened and incoherent as the story went on. 

I made many concessions when rating this book because it was in the young adult genre. The genre has a particular audience in mind and has to adjust the language and story elements to where it’s easily digestible. So I’ll forgive the stereotypical characters and predictable plot.

The characters were interesting but were often underdeveloped and inconsistent. The strongest character was probably Clarissa’s sister, Desi and I commend the author for taking the time to write a respectful and accurate portrayal of a character with down syndrome. Lexie had a strong voice that came through in her chapters and I would have loved to have gotten to know her better. I was disappointed that her character development was stifled because her chapters had to solely hold up the romance story line. Clarissa’s voice in her chapters tended to waver, strong at times and weak in others. Her development was inconsistent resulting in her motives being blurred so that when she took action it seemed drastic and out of character.     

I was really looking forward to the romance story in this book but it just seemed neglected and pushed to the side. The blurb promises rivalry and hints at an intense relationship tested by outside forces. The reality is that Clarissa and Lexie aren’t really rivals just different people that find themselves becoming friends once they see past each others facade. No outside forces trying to tear them apart just a stressful situation with possibly losing her home that has Clarissa abruptly pulling away. The romance often seemed entirely one sided with Lexie holding it up and taking the initiative. There were a couple of  cute moments but it was just a luke-warm romance that wasn’t properly established. I was also hoping for the LGBTQA themes to have more depth and emphasis but it was taken at face value and down played.

The overall plot was choppy, conflict seemed forced and the pacing was off. Some scenes and additional descriptions seemed unnecessary. My biggest complaint however were the massive information dumps. It’s obvious a lot of research went into this book and it’s very informative, thorough, and accurate. However it was conveyed in lengthy text heavy dialogue that was so dense it weighed the story down and threw off the pacing completely. It took the focus away from the story and was quite frankly boring. Especially when a lot of the information shared had no bearing on the story or the end result. 

Frenemy Of The People has beautiful cover art and a lot of interesting concepts it tried to get across but I just didn’t care for the overall execution of the story. 

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher Bold Strokes Books, Inc. through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review]