Google+ YA Romantics: Two non-YA reviews: Mr. Kiss and Tell and Second Life

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Two non-YA reviews: Mr. Kiss and Tell and Second Life

Mr. Kiss and Tell (Veronica Mars #2)
by Rob Thomas and Jennifer Graham
Published January 20, 2015 by Vintage Books

Synopsis from Goodreads: The Neptune Grand has always been the seaside town’s ritziest hotel, despite the shady dealings and high-profile scandals that seem to follow its elite guests. When a woman claims that she was brutally assaulted in one of its rooms and left for dead by a staff member, the owners know that they have a potential powder keg on their hands. They turn to Veronica to disprove—or prove—the woman's story. The case is a complicated mix of hard facts, mysterious occurrences, and uncooperative witnesses. The hotel refuses to turn over its reservation list and the victim won’t divulge who she was meeting that night. Add in the facts that the attack happened months ago, the victim’s memory is fuzzy, and there are holes in the hotel’s surveillance system, and Veronica has a convoluted mess on her hands. As she works to fill in the missing pieces, it becomes clear that someone is lying—but who? And why? 
My take: I'm about the biggest Veronica Mars fan there is. And just to put it out there, I consider that the TV show has the highest level of VM canonicity.  I'm not sure if I can consider the movie and these books as canon at all. But we can debate that in comments.

I listened to the first book in this series, The Thousand Dollar Tan Line, on audio with Kristen Bell narrating, and that may have elevated my opinion above what it deserved. I liked the noir-ish plot of TDTL, but the characters seemed like caricatures to me. I mean, Veronica and Dick Casablancas crashing a college party wearing a coconut bra? (Her, not him. I think.)

Mr. Kiss and Tell feels truer to the characters I know and love -- Veronica, Weevil, Mac, Logan, Keith. And I thought the case in this book -- a rape victim with a hazy memory -- had promise. But I felt this book was a little emotionally flat. In TDTL, Veronica is dealing with both the reappearance of her mother and with Logan's deployment, and in Mr. Kiss and Tell, she and Logan are back in co-habitating bliss. (Sorry, I shouldn't be complaining about that, but I thought this book lacked tension.) Still, a foray back into Neptune is always a happy occasion for me, and I think most VM fans should be pleased with this. I hope there's a book three, and hope it's able to combine the emotional punch  of the first book with the better characterization of the second.



Second Life
by S. J. Watson
Published by Harper
on June 9, 2015

Synopsis From Goodreads: She loves her husband. She's obsessed by a stranger. She's a devoted mother. She's prepared to lose everything. She knows what she's doing. She's out of control. She's innocent. She's guilty as sin. She's living two lives. She might lose both ...

My take: I read and loved Watson's debut novel, Before I Go To Sleep. That was a fantastic thriller, and if you haven't read it, you definitely should.

Sadly,  I was disappointed in Second Life. Julia, the main character, is a former alcoholic who lives with her husband and teenage son. When Julia's sister turns up dead in a Paris alley, Julia travels to Paris to speak to her sister's friends.

I had no problem with any of that. But it's always interesting when I can pinpoint the exact moment in a book when things start to fall apart for me. In Second Life, it was around page 70. Julia is in her sister's Paris apartment, looking through a box of stuff. She finds a piece of paper with her sister's handwriting: passwords, usernames, and the name of an online site called Encounterz. (Yes. Really.) And the name of the metro station closest to the spot where her sister's body was found. Does she go to the police with this information? Uh, no, because the police have already "followed up every lead." (Except that the murder has not been solved, so ... yeah.) Julia decides to go on Encounterz and impersonate her sister. To me, the believability of the entire book rested on the believability of this decision. What kind of a person would not go to the police with a clue that might help solve her sisters murder?

If Julia had seemed more jealous of her sister or more crazy and self-destructive in her grief, this might have seemed plausible. But she was giving off more of a bored housewife fallen off the wagon vibe than a downward spiral vibe.

If you're worried that Julia ends up in a creepy sex dungeon, don't be.The sex stuff is a garden variety affair and the whole story seems weirdly outdated, like a cautionary tale written years and years ago about how Bad Things Can Happen to You When You Meet People Online. (Your life will be ruined! Consider yourself warned!) There's finally a flurry of action at the end, that wasn't enough to redeem this story. I will definitely try this author's next book, but this one just wasn't for me.

16 comments:

  1. I am so bummed that Kristen Bell did not narrate the second book.

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    1. I was too and decided to read instead of listen.

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  2. Reading the VM books, I was struck by how much it sounded like Kristen Bell in my head - tone, language and all. I really enjoy the series, although I'm not actually a Logan/Veronica shipper.

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    1. I'm not either. I mean, not entirely. I didn't really like her with Duncan, and Piz didn't seem right for her either. Her relationship with Logan is better in these books than in the show. And don't even get me started about how horrible she is to poor Piz in the movie.

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  3. Interesting :) I didn't know you're a Veronica Mars fan. I've been meaning to purchase the series for a while... The second book sounds comical.

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    1. The books are fun -- snappy and easy to read. The show is my favorite, though...

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  4. Second Life sounded so much cooler in the blurb than what it apparently turned out to be! Hope the author's next book works out better! Great review on it though.

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    1. I was disappointed. Liked his first book so much more.

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  5. Second Life definitely sounds so creepy but it does not make a lot of sense, totally agreed. I loved Mr Kiss and Tell being a major VM fan as well, although definitely she felt a bit disconnected here, she's got a lot going on. I loved the first book though because it continued straight after the series.

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    1. I agree. I felt more connected to the first book even though the plot was a bit weird.

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  6. Aw sorry to hear this Watson book didn't do it for you like the last did

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  7. I just... want the show back. The movie was fun, I think I need to watch it again before I make up my mind. I swear, I just told my hairdresser that I was lending her the first three seasons because they are SOOOO GOOD.

    Also--I hate when the believably goes in the beginning and ruins the rest of the book.

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  8. I'm reading second life right now. Actually right at the part you mention being the low light. Maybe I'll like it better than you did?

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    1. I hope so! I loved his first book so much and I wanted to love this one too.

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