The Loose Ends List
Author: Carrie Firestone
Publication: June 7th, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Format: Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Read: July 2016
Carrie Firestone — Goodreads
A refreshing, funny, and moving debut novel about first loves, last wishes, and letting go.
Seventeen-year-old Maddie O’Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie’s closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie’s plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret “death with dignity” cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way – and give the O’Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.
Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.
Plot – 3 out of 5 stars
I liked the concept of this book and I feel like for such a hard topic, it was dealt with and handled very well. However, the plot just felt flat to me. I liked the destinations the cruise went to and the experiences the characters had there were interesting. But overall, it was boring for me. There was too much drama and an aspect of instalove that I did not appreciated. I like how it ended up incorporating the title and the meaning of it into the story but it wasn’t enough for me to enjoy.
Writing Style – 2 out of 5 stars
I think this is the part of the book that I disliked the most. I didn’t understand it or enjoy it in anyway. It was dry and very simple. It was supposed to be funny but I didn’t find it humorous or entertaining at any point. Some of the jokes were inappropriate and weird, they made me uncomfortable and kind of upset as well. The writing style was very bland and I didn’t feel like it transmitted emotion very well, at least it didn’t make me feel anything.
Characters – 3 out of 5 stars
Yet another part of this book that I wasn’t a fan of. I don’t know what the author’s intention was but the character just felt like caricatures. Their personalities were too extreme and I didn’t find it believable. Maddie annoyed me. She’s insecure, and judgemental and shallow. She’s self-centered and annoying. I didn’t understand her or like her in any way. I couldn’t connect with her and I didn’t feel sorry for her. It made the story so much harder to read. I think one of the only character I actually liked was her Gram. She’s was cooky and crazy but really sweet. She stood up for what she wanted and she tried very hard to make her family be more accepting and aware of other people, even though it didn’t work that well most of the time. Wes was also a character that I liked, his intentions were good and he was a sweetheart. But then again, he wasn’t actually a part of that cray family. I feel like there were too many side characters. They didn’t feel developed enough and they could easily be confused by the reader. Most of them were over the top, dramatic and unrealistic. I wanted to feel for them and it just didn’t happen.
There are some books that you read and you hate, and there are other books that you read that are just not for you. This is one of those books.
The plot is farfetched. We follow Maddie whose Gram drops some news the summer before she’s leaving for college. She’s dying of cancer and she wants to take them on a cruise in which she’ll die with dignity at the end. First thing I wanted to mention is that I read this book with another book blogger and while I managed to finish it, she DNF’d halfway through. We were both really disappointed because it was our first buddy read and it ended up not being an enjoyable book for either of us. That being said, I liked the premise of the story and of the cruise ship. I loved seeing all the places they traveled to and why Gram picked them and the adventures they had there. That part was really interesting and even sweet in some parts. And I liked some of the secondary characters, some of the other patients on the ship managed to tug at my heart strings which was nice. But that’s it. The actual story line, the one from the main character’s perspective which we’re supposed to connect to felt flat and boring. I didn’t connect with Maddie, her interests, her personality, her thought process, nothing. And I didn’t connect with her family either which the majority felt like caricatures of really judgemental and self-centered people. I quickly saw where Maddie got her winning personality. And yet, my biggest issue with this book is with the writing style and that’s why I mentioned above that this book is not for me. The writing is supposed to be funny, sarcastic but in an almost in your face, rude way. And while some people have been able to accept it and fall in love with it, it bothered me. It was impersonal and unemotional. It wasn’t funny to me at all, I felt insulted quite a few times actually, and it further disconnected me from the characters and from the story.
I didn’t like Maddie. At all. From the very beginning. I found her to be really self-centered, shallow and insecure. She made a big deal about leaving her friends for the summer and yet we know nothing about them besides the fact that she’s always designated driver to three other teenage girls. Her one actual friend is someone she doesn’t spend time with, who she doesn’t want to be seen one and who she’s convinced herself to think they have nothing in common. Even after her Gram finally passed away, she still only thought about her grief and her family had to rally around her and get her to live again. It just felt like she was really selfish and I didn’t connect or understand her at all.
The romance in this book had instalove written all over it. Besides the fact that the guy was too exotic and mixed for his own good, I didn’t get much from his personality. I didn’t understand why they were attracted to each other besides the fact that they were both teenagers on a cruise for people who are dying. Their relationship developed way too fast and was too intense, specially considering all the supposed emotional hits Maddie was taking with her Gram’s upcoming goodbye. It bothered me how her family wasn’t aware of her relationship and how quickly it was developing. The family was too focused on being judgemental of the other passengers and their lives and it was sickening in one specific case. I was disturbed. Quite frankly, they were just unrelatable characters.
Overall, I was really disappointed with this book. I didn’t enjoy the writing style, it felt too jarring, unemotional and it disconnected me from the plot. The characters were flawed to a maximum percent and I didn’t care or connect with them. I didn’t support the romance and I felt like it developed too quickly and took too much of a spotlight from the rest of the plot. I will most likely not be reading another book by this author.
So that’s it for this post! Let me know your thoughts on my thoughts. Have you read this book yet? If so, what did you think? If you haven’t, let me know if you’re still thinking of picking it up after reading my review. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!