Google+ YA Romantics: Just Finished Reading ... A Study in Charlotte

Monday, February 22, 2016

Just Finished Reading ... A Study in Charlotte

A Study in Charlotte
by Brittany Cavallaro

To be published by Katherine Tegen Books
on March 1, 2016

Source: eARC from publisher for review

Synopsis from Goodreads: The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson – writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson – wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.
My take: To my great happiness, we've seen all kinds of permutations of the Holmes-Watson- Moriarty trio in YA over the past few years, from Lock & Mori, which has a guy Sherlock and a female Moriarty, to Every Breath, with a Sherlock-inspired crime solving teen couple, to this book, which features Charlotte Holmes and Jamie Watson.

Besides the gender switching, A Study in Charlotte was very loyal to the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories, except that it also did something interesting, which was to acknowledge the Doyle stories in the text and also have the main characters be descendants of the "real" Holmes and Watson. Who are fictional characters. I did some research on the Sherlock Canon and apparently there's some Watsonian (in-universe) vs. Doyalist (out-of-universe) debate but realized I was spending too much time on that and not reading this book, so I'm just going with the fact that maybe these characters are suggesting that the stories were written about real people.**

What I liked about this book: that it often referenced the original Doyle stories. (The title is a play on Doyle's novel A Study in Scarlet.) That it had a fun blend of British and American culture - both Jamie and Charlotte are British students at a boarding school in Connecticut. And I thought this setting - a boarding school filled with moth-eaten antiques and WASP culture and degenerate rich kids and striving scholarship kids and everything in between - worked well. The mystery itself was also very clever and well crafted, though my attention lagged a little in the middle.

Okay, now for my reservations.  I'm not sure what a reader who is completely unfamiliar with Holmes' character would think of this book. Holmes is brilliant, yet, but also a bit ... unlikeable? He's arrogant and lacks social skills and is frequently drug addicted. So while I liked the fact that A Study in Charlotte didn't hesitate to give Charlotte all of those characteristics, I'm not sure what non-Sherlock fans will think of her. As a fan, I found her kind of prickly and alarming. But I don't need to want to be BFFs with a main character to like a book. (I also think there's a bit of a double standard about how unlikeable female characters are allowed to be, but that's for another post.) Also, while the romances in those aforementioned Sherlock-inspired YAs have been really good, I wasn't really feeling the Jamie/Charlotte romance here. But that could improve in future books.

Overall, I definitely recommend this if you're a Sherlock fan who is eagerly grabbing up all these YA adaptations. And if you're a fan of dark mysteries or British crime books and shows, you should also give it a try.

**In fact, scholars believe Sherlock was based on a real guy named Joseph Bell, so maybe Charlotte should have been descended from him? Okay ... never mind.

17 comments:

  1. It's tough not being able to join in the fun of reading any interpretations of the Sherlock Holmes novels. Unfortunately, I know nothing about the books, tv series or the movies as it were. It's funny how easily we can get distracted by research. Lol. I'm the same way when I read something interesting in a book that I wanted to know more of. :D

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    1. Well, I'm curious to see what someone who isn't familiar with the Sherlock canon thinks of this, so if you read it let me know!

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  2. Color me intrigued, Jen. I appreciate the loyalty you mention to the original stories - I think that when paying homage to a classic is part of why a novel gets written, it should be obvious and done in good taste. Speaking of which ... Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies? That would be the opposite of what I'm talking about. Ew.

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    1. I did too! And yeah, I don't think Jane Austen + zombies makes any sense.

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  3. I'm not the biggest Sherlock fan, tbh, but if the mystery lives up to my expectations, then I have no problem delving into these kinds of retellings! And I like that Holmes in this one is so ..dramatic in depiction, for lack of a better word.

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    1. It's a pretty good mystery - I didn't figure it out! And yes, if Charlotte Holmes had been girly and shy, that wouldn't have worked for me...

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  4. I've had this book on my list for a while, but I haven't made to for it yet. It sounds so good. I'm really getting into mysteries. I'm going to move it to my must read list for 2016. Great review!

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    1. I've been so excited to read it and for the most part it did not disappoint. The romance wasn't really for me (forgot to mention that and will add it.)

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  5. I'm glad you liked this one, Jen! I had...reservations about it. A lot of them. xD I was a bit confused to wHY Charlotte was a drug addict? Like I felt like it was a "oh my great-grandfather was so I am too obviously duh" and I didn't like how it was handled at all. Gah. I've only read one original Holmes story (A Study in Scarlet XD) and I actually didn't think Holmes was as unlikeable and rude as he's presented in all the shows?!? But I need to read more of the books before I can say for sure. He seemed withdrawn and dismissive, but like happy to explain his theories to willing ears?
    Buuuut, anyway. I'll definitely read the next book in this series, but I wasn't entirely happy with this one, sadly. D:

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  6. I have this one coming up to read (I am woefully behind on ARCs). I am one who doesn't know much about the original Sherlock Holmes stories at all so I am interested to see how I will react to this book and the characters. Great review!

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  7. This is at the top of my TBR list! I'm not excited for a flimsy romance (I'm fine with the slow build) but Charlotte sounds intriguing, as does the setting! Nice review!

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  8. Shamefully, I've never read Sherlock Holmes but I'm really eager to read this one (is it a bad thing?). I don't think I'll be bothered by the traits given to Charlotte.. So maybe I can safely give this a read...

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  9. I am a huge fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's eccentric protagonist, so I'm dying to read this book. I like it when an author does the unthinkable with characters. And while sometimes it's too much, I much rather like the boldness. I'll have to pick this up soon.

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  10. Not much of a sherlock fan, but great to hear that it worked for you. though i could get into house, and he wasn't the most likeable but did a good job with medical mysteries

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  11. Glad you enjoyed this, I thought it was a pretty good Sherlock-esque telling (: I can see how people could be put off by Charlotte, but that is Sherlock's personality. I've got a bit of mixed feelings about the potential romance, but I'm kind of glad that Jamie is also confused about his feelings, haha. Lovely review, Jen!

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  12. This adaptation sounds like it was really faithful to the Sherlock franchise! I'm not the biggest fan, but it sounds like Charlotte was a carbon copy and unlikable. Thanks for the review lovely!

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  13. I just finished this one the other day and it took me two days to fly through it. I'm pretty used to the Sherlock stories so I was expecting Charlotte to be like that. I did find her a bit better than the actual Sherlock though. Yes, pretentious a bit, but she still had emotions and those clearly showed from time to time which gave her redeeming qualities as a character. I loved how much it referred to the originals and the mystery was epic. I hope there are more and this becomes a series!

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