Tuesday, May 17, 2016

seriously romantic: within reach by jessica stevens

i don't know what it was about this cover, but i thought it was so pretty. like you can imagine someone coming up to the girl on the cover and being about to tap her on the shoulder, but maybe she's a hair out of reach. in this paranormal young adult romance, xan and lila are perfect soulmates who have wasted five lifetimes together because, well, let's just say reasons for now.

from the within reach back cover blurb we know that dying wasn’t on seventeen-year-old xander hemlock’s summer to-do-list. finding ways to spend more time with his girlfriend, lila, was the most critical thinking he planned on doing. but that was before he found himself trapped in a realm of only darkness with thirty days to convince lila he’s not actually dead—well, not completely, anyway. and from that description, this book seemed different than a lot of the ya i usually read, so i thought i'd give it a chance.

i don't regret having read this, but in the end i think the interesting idea wasn't executed all that well. there are tons of structural issues. characters don't move in and out of scenes in ways that make sense. and while some leeway should be given because this is a paranormal and the spiritual realm (for lack of a better descriptor) plays a huge part in the novel's setting. also, i think the alternating point of view in the novel doesn't really do it any favors. i know it's the flavor of the month in ya and new adult, but i often think that there are better ways to compose the story.

so here's the story, xan is trapped in this spiritual plane, he is dead but his soul is somehow still hanging around. a third character, wes, explains that he can't leave because lila is the other half of his soul. and that they've already had five lifetimes to try and get something right. but this is their last shot. if he fails then bad stuff will happen. the problem is that too much time is spent trying to explain this background, and it never makes sense. like i think the characters try to explain it like five times, and i'm still not entirely clear on the hows and whys of why xan couldn't move on.

it also felt like lila as a character had all this interesting backstory that was pushed to the periphery because the main thrust of the plot is all about getting her to recognize xan's spirit. actually the same goes for xan, so many tidbits of his past were thrown into the story, but not enough time was given to provide proper context, and in the end you feel like you've read this story, but you aren't positive it's the story you actually wanted to read.

**this book is set to release on may 17, 2016. i was able to read an advance reader copy thanks to netgalley/sparksbooks. i received a copy of the novel in exchange for my honest review. 

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