Saturday, February 4, 2012

In My Shoes: A Review

As a disclaimer before I even start this review, let me just say, I'm very grateful to Mr. Stephens for giving me the opportunity to review his work. And I do feel bad that it has taken me so long to read and review his book (He emailed it to me in November of last year.)

Also, I absolutely hate giving negative/bad reviews, but in some cases it is necessary, and this happens to be one of those cases.

How I got this book: Sent to me by the author
My rating: Only 1 star
Read from: Feb 1-4th

It was extremely difficult for me to get into this book. As soon as it started out, I was having trouble believing the characters. Jake seemed so self conscious, and lacked  confidence.  Also, there's also the fact that the language used by the characters is very forced, and stiff. It doesn't flow well together at all. These kids are supposed to be speaking as teenagers, and instead they're using words like sardonically. They never use any sorts of contractions with maybe the only exception being don't. The rest is "we will be telling them..." (as a totally made up example). They just didn't sound like kids. Since the dialogue was so choppy and forced, I had a really hard time feeling much of anything for the characters or getting into the story.

There's a tiny bit of irony in the fact that at one point, Jake is telling Nicole, the person he switched bodies with, not to speak so "proper" around his friend Mike. If they're all speaking that way, what difference would it make to put that in? It's seemed to me like a tiny acknowledgement from the author that maybe he knew the dialogue was too formal.

The next point that stuck out to me was the lack of variety in the language. Particularly with one set of words: Playful/playfully. Almost every time a character is trying to lighten the mood in the story, or trying to guess at what the other is feeling, the words playful or playfully are used. Variations of those two words are used 16 times in this novel. I don't know about you guys, but I prefer when an author varies their word choice.

Then there's the fact that the whole concept of "Nikki as Jake" and Jake as Nikki is extremely confusing. It seemed like even they were confused a lot of the time. After a while I just tried to ignore their talking about each other and focus on the story itself.

As for the ending, I wish it had been more of a "and they lived happily together" kind of ending rather than the way it ending because the story was already tired long before the end.

I have to admit, I do like the fact that the author took this in a new direction when he actually dealt with real life issues, like Jake as Nikki getting "his" period (if that makes any sense, it's so confusing)! or Nikki as Jake dealing with erections.

But the fact that the author brought in some real world issues did not save this book from a bad rating. I found myself trying hard not to just abandon this altogether. I stuck with it out of a sense of obligation to read and review it since the author sent it to me.

There is one thing that makes me wonder though, and that's something that's mentioned in the blurb before the story. Mr. Stephens states in this section of his book and on his Goodreads profile that he really hadn't read much for fun before receiving some of the Harry Potter books in 2006. So, maybe the fact that he didn't really read as much is what attributes for the choppy language. Maybe he just hasn't read enough teenage characters to know how they should be written to sound.

Either way, I think this book does have slight potential, but it missed the mark with me.

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