Sunday, 30 April 2017

Cova Reviews | Famous by Default - MK Harkins

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review via NetGalley. This does not in any away affect the truthfulness of the following statement, which reflects my honest opinion on the novel

Hello, guys! Hope everything's going well :) This week's post will be a review of Famous by Default, by M.K. Harkins. It is a light young adult, contemporary novel about love, loss and finding oneself.
Buried,By my family's fame.Dying to escape the limelight,And finally, I do.
Being raised as a Jayne, I'm under constant scrutiny. The rock band my brothers formed makes it impossible to stay under the radar. Paparazzi, tabloids, rabid fans--you name it and I've got it. It all makes me sick. But getting shipped off to crazy Aunt Betty's house in my senior year of high school isn't any better. After all, there isn't a stray kid or pet in the world that my aunt wouldn't take in.
Then I meet her. She's cautious, suspicious, and not interested in me at all. But that's fine by me. Sivan Holt may be beautiful and intelligent, but she's nothing I'm looking for.

Drowning,In my past.Struggling to feel settled.And finally, I do.
Growing up in the foster care system, I longed for a sense of belonging. All I wanted was a place to call home.At the age of seventeen, I'm finally starting to feel it here. Home.
When he comes along, it unsettles me. I don't want him to ruin everything we've built--everything that matters. Jax Jayne is arrogant, privileged, and I want nothing to do with him. But those green eyes of his keep drawing me in. If I let down my walls, will it be my final undoing?" (Goodreads)

I have to say I was a bit let down by this book. Honestly, reading this synopsis already kind of lets you know what to expect. What you see there is what you get. It is the type of YA, contemporary novels that I was reading when I thought I didn't like contemporary YA (thank you, Jenny Han, for opening my eyes!). Typical story: a troubled girl and a troubled guy that randomly fall on the other's path and instantly detest each other until they suddenly are attracted to one another, while they still think they should hate each other because of all the awful reasons they hated them before. This kind of books may have background variations, but, at the end of the day, they all tell the same story.

I think Famous by Default had great potential. The "background story" I mentioned before is interesting: Sivan's story is heart-breaking, and Jax's is definitely refreshing (at least I hadn't read any book whose main character has been affected collaterally by fame). However, I don't think the author has made the most out of her great ideas. I found the story to lack substantial depth to it. Once you finish it, it feels like it was all the time about how I feel about her, the great looks of him, what she told me this morning, etc., although really it does cover a lot more topics - friendship, trust, love, overcoming one's fears, etc. I think the reason why these go "unnoticed" is because it's as if they'd been pasted into the story - they don't quite flow.  I got the impression that the author had wanted them to be in her book and thus wrote about them (does that make sense? Of course authors include in their books what they want to include, but usually you don't realise it?). Another point to take into account is the fact that every problem they encounter seemed to resolve perfectly for them, which is exasperating sometimes...

About the characters, you do see some character development -especially about Jax (although, again, I though it was quite rushed). I really liked and admired aunt Betty - she's such a kind, loving and respectful woman. She's true to herself, which you don't tend to find in adult characters in YA. I liked Sivan's character -I appreciated that the author made her fragile, because, although I always love strong, empowering female characters, this one's gone through a lot, and many times people (not just women) end up like her -which makes her seem more real. The book shows that, however hard it may seem, you do get through hard situations -which is an important message. On the other hand, I do not feel Sivan learns at a pace that corresponds to what she lives. 

The writing, I am not really a fan of. The author obviously wanted to make the dialogues "teenagery", but I wasn't quite into it. I read the contraction "kinda" way too many times in this book! Also, as I've said before, I missed well-planned transitions. 

Also, something that struck me as strange is that before starting the narration the author gives you a pretty cool playlist. You're not given any indications, but I figured I was meant to listen to them as they came up in the book or as I was told, but I never got any queue except for one of the songs, and thus the playlist was left unlistened. That was odd!

Towards the end of the book, I started enjoying it slightly more (once I accepted its flaws, I guess), but I think if I hadn't been given it for review, I would have considered quitting reading it. I was debating whether to give Famous by Default a 2.5 or a 3, and I actually changed my mark on Goodreads a couple of times. I will give it a 2.5.

I did not know about MK Harris before Famous by Default. Has any of you read any other of her books and can tell me what they thought about them?

Happy reading!

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