Friday, July 18, 2014

Carpe DiEmily (Part 1) - Riley J. Ford


Emily Keane has her life organized, filed, scheduled, and color-coded, and now things are looking up:  Her boss, Darren, has a promotion she just knows has her name on it, and her longtime boyfriend, Lenny, is going to propose to her tonight.  Except... not.  Turns out the promotion is for her sleazy coworker, Simone Stevens, and Lenny bought her a break-up gift instead of a ring.  Now her life is in shambles, and decides to end her life.  She doesn't want it to end for nothing, though, and decides to donate her organs when she dies - and that's where Dr. Becker comes in.  Enigmatic and calculating, he gives Emily an offer: One million dollars and one year to do what she wants before he comes to assist her suicide and harvests her organs.  Now, with the clock running down, Emily tries to shake up her methodical lifestyle and do what she's never done before: Live spontaneously.

My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

I actually hated this book starting out.  Couldn't stand it.  Hated Emily and found the build up to her life expectations crashing down extremely predictable.  Particularly found Emily's opinion of Simone "Si-Moan" Stevens to be disgusting and ridiculously judgmental, and I was ready to give this a 2 and be done with it.

I didn't expect this book to actually be laugh-out-loud funny and surprisingly good.

The plot is interesting enough.  The main plot is about Emily trying to finish a bucket list and the inevitable countdown before the villainous Dr. Becker comes to take his part of the contract, but there are a fair amount of subplots.  Surprisingly enough, though, these subplots weave in and out of the story, adding to and giving substance to the main plot.  This book was free, so I can hardly complain, but I'm never a fan of people writing novel-length stories without resolving any conflict for the sole purpose of getting readers to purchase their next book, and unfortunately, that's what this book does.  It's not bad, and I enjoyed what I read, but I really believe that each book should be able to stand on its own, especially if it is the first installment.

The characters, oh, the characters.  I hated Emily in the beginning and by the end had vague pity for her; if you read with the intent of falling in love with the protagonist, I probably wouldn't recommend this.  However, the beauty is in the side characters, particularly Tyler and Simone; the former being Emily's gay stylist and the closest thing she's got to a friend, and the latter being her flirtatious coworker and rival.  I couldn't stand the way Emily had this habit of shoehorning people into categories, and these two get the worst of it:  Tyler is always compared to her image of a gay man, and it's like her internal monologue can't shut up about how he's like her gay best friend, all while not really caring about him and just making their relationship very one-sided.  With Simone, well.  The fact that the nickname Emily silently gives her is "Si-Moan" is enough to make me gag.  Simone is always demonized by Emily about her flashiness and her vivacious attitude about life, which I find sad because I'm always of the opinion that you should mind your own damn business when it comes to other people living their own lives.

However, I was pleased to find that the author does give a lot of hidden depths to these characters.  Tyler opens up some; not enough in this installment to really give a good grasp, but it's obvious to the reader (or at least me) that further installments will work to give him even more depth than he has and will probably end up comparing Emily's cardboard cutout opinion of Tyler with the genuine Tyler.  Simone is fully fleshed out in here; sure, she likes to have fun and look sexy, but she's also oodles nicer than Emily and I was happy to see her and Emily start becoming friends, though I still disliked it whenever Emily thought her way of things was always better than Simone's.

It's funny, because the writing is actually very similar to my style (which you will probably never see in action, muahahaha), so it feels strange to critique it because it feels like critiquing my own writing.  If I were to try to make a comment about it, I'd say good - very good, in fact, definitely above average - but not spectacular.  It doesn't particularly draw you in by itself, but I think the cleverness and humorous situations the author thinks up really gives this story the heart it needs.

The only thing I have a BIG problem with is the line "The space isn't important. It's the love you give the dog and the love they give you." As a pet owner this is a HUGE red flag for me, and I hope others notice that this is so so so wrong as well. I couldn't quite tell, maybe the author was trying to make a point of that, but space is actually crucial. It's cruel to deprive a dog of what it needs and yes, space is one of those things your dog needs, especially if it's a big breed like a German Shepard, which was the breed featured in this novel. Anyone who picks up this book, please never follow that advice, okay, your dog, cat, turtle, bird, etc. needs appropriate space to grow and play in, not a small enclosure more suited for a prison sentence.

Still, pleasantly surprised. I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

You can find Carpe DiEmily (Part 1): A Free Romantic Comedy Chick Lit Adventure here

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