Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading: Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt and Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Just Finished Reading: Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt and Anne & Henry by Dawn Ius

Wow -- fall books are falling down on us like leaves from the trees. I have a bunch of September 1 books to review, so I'm pairing up two new releases that I (mostly) liked, even if the romance left a bit to be desired...


Dream Things True
by Marie Marquardt
Published on September 1
by St Martin's Griffin

Source: eARC from publisher via NetGalley
Synopsis from Goodreads: A modern-day Romeo and Juliet story in which a wealthy Southern boy falls in love with an undocumented Mexican girl and together they face perils in their hostile Georgia town. Evan, a soccer star and the nephew of a conservative Southern Senator, has never wanted for much -- except a functional family. Alma has lived in Georgia since she was two-years-old, excels in school, and has a large, warm Mexican family. Never mind their differences, the two fall in love, and they fall hard. But when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) begins raids on their town, Alma knows that she needs to tell Evan her secret. There's too much at stake. But how to tell her country-club boyfriend that she’s an undocumented immigrant? That her whole family and most of her friends live in the country without permission. What follows is a beautiful, nuanced, well-paced exploration of the complications of immigration, young love, defying one’s family, and facing a tangled bureaucracy that threatens to completely upend two young lives.
My review: I was super-excited to try about this book about a relationship between an undocumented girl and an upper middle class boy. While I liked learning more about the life of the undocumented, the mix of romance and issues in this story was a combination that didn't work for me.

The book's POV-- close third person that alternates between Evan's narrative and Alma's --felt distancing and awkward. And the romance just had an odd quality that I couldn't get past. Their attraction to each other felt sudden and unexplained, and the way Evan looked at and thought about Alma -- mostly in terms of the shapeliness of her body -- kind of weirded me out.

Immigration is a topical (and divisive) issue, and it's tricky to take on a subject like this and not let the narrative become didactic. I think the key is to make the reader care so much about the characters that they don't feel like they are reading an issue book. In this case of this book, I think those things in the story I previously mentioned (narrative POV and Evan's weird vibe) kept me at somewhat of a distance from Alma's community and their plight.

I do think readers who are interested in immigration issues or those who want to learn more about them should definitely check this book out. I'd have preferred a different romantic feel (or just friendship that slowly built into romance) but romantic chemistry can be a personal preference thing -- Alma and Evan's relationship may work better for other readers than it did for me.

Anne & Henry
by Dawn Ius
Published by Simon Pulse
on September 1, 2015

Source: eARC from publisher via Edelweiss
Synopsis from Goodreads: Henry Tudor’s life has been mapped out since the day he was born: student body president, valedictorian, Harvard Law School, and a stunning political career just like his father’s. But ever since the death of his brother, the pressure for Henry to be perfect has doubled. And now he’s trapped: forbidden from pursuing a life as an artist or dating any girl who isn’t Tudor-approved. Then Anne Boleyn crashes into his life. Wild, brash, and outspoken, Anne is everything Henry isn’t allowed to be—or want. But soon Anne is all he can think about. His mother, his friends, and even his girlfriend warn him away, but his desire for Anne consumes him. Henry is willing to do anything to be with her, but once they’re together, will their romance destroy them both?
My take: My favorite thing about retellings is seeing how the author translates one story (the ill-fated relationship between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn) to a new setting (a contemporary private high school.) Anne & Henry had some elements I really liked - Anne Boleyn's character was translated into an eyebrow-raising, motorcycle riding teenage rebel. It was interesting to see how the real-life people of the time were brought into the book (think The Tudors meets Gossip Girl.) The writing was good and there was some good, fun scene-setting, like a sexy costume party and a romantic scene at an abandoned theater.

I guess my main problem with Anne & Henry was that, while I could understand why real life Anne might have been interested in real life Henry, I could never really understand why this high school Anne was interested in high school president Henry. She was cool and edgy and fun, and he was a boring mama's boy and pretty much of a jerk. While it would be pretty hard to recreate the sky-high stakes of the original story, I thought this could have come closer if the romance had felt hotter and more desperate.

I do recommend this to Tudor-philes as it was fun to see how the Tudor Court was translated to modern day life at Medina Academy, and I look forward to seeing what Dawn Ius writes next!

Both of these will be up for grabs on future Freebie Friday, so stay tuned!

12 comments:

  1. I was interested in Anne & Henry. It still sounds kind of cute so I might get to it eventually.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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    1. It's fun. I think I went into it with too serious expectations.

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  2. Anne & Henry looks super cute! I don't know when I'm going to read it but it's definitely on my TBR! :)

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  3. I was excited for Anne & Henry but then I read a review somewhere that mentioned the same problem as you. I like romance that I can believe in so this has me reconsidering. Thanks for the review :)

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  4. I've been thinking about Dream Things True but now I'm not completely sure. Really need to think twice about it. Thanks for the honest review :)

    czai @ the Blacksheep Project

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  5. I had very similar thoughts about these two. As far as Dream Things True, I actually had to DNF when I realized this was just not for me. As far as Anne & Henry, I adored Dawn's writing, but I had the same issue with understanding Anne's attraction to Henry. It just didn't work for me. Great reviews! :)

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  6. Oh, the second one sounds interesting - what a great idea :) The first one feels kind of unfocused to me.

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  7. I agree with you about Anne and Henry! Like they're so passionate and impulsive about the romance but I don't understand 'why.' Sure Anne is the forbidden "Other," but what's so attractive about Henry in Anne's eyes?? He's no better than his friends.

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  8. I haven't read many books on immigration, but it intrigues me. So, I like the sound of Dreams Come True. The romance and POV doesn't sound like something that would work for me, though.

    Anne & Henry looks like one I would really like! I like the idea of the scene setting! It sounds fun. I'm curious to see if I feel similarly about the romance.

    Great reviews, Jen. :)

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  9. I have seen similar thoughts on Dreams Come True and decided to skip that one. I read Anne & Henry and it wasn't for me. I couldn't like or get behind any of the characters or relationships or anything. Great reviews!

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  10. Gah, I'm unsure about both! With the first one, you need to be super careful with how issues like immigration are dealt with. Anne & Henry looks quite cute/interesting, but like you, I'd be wondering what this badass girl sees in a rather uninspiring dude!

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  11. Oooh, Immigration... fun. Haha! I'm mostly interested in the first book because immigration is something I'm interested talked about in young adult. It does make me wary though that the romance part is a bit weird... I mean, I want to read about meaningful romance, not something where the emphasis is on a girl's body part. Like, why?!?!

    Faye at The Social Potato

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