So, I did not finish this book. Technically, this is because I forgot it at the gym and most likely will not have it back till Tuesday. But the fact is, I was already considering DNF-ing this. It is really not a terrible book, it just did not hold my interest in any way.
I wanted to like this book. I liked The Name of the Star, many of my friends had enjoyed it, and the premise itself just seemed very cute and quirky. Plus, there is MJ herself to consider. She is the perfect combination of awesome and eccentric, so I decided that this book would just as awesome and eccentric.
Unfortunately, it forgot the awesome and kept the eccentric.
The idea sounds cute, in a pitch. Quirky, but cute, and not completely illogical. That's before you're told that Ginny is not allowed to bring a cellphone, a laptop, a camera, or any sort of guide/translation books, and her parents are not allowed to give her backup money. I'm sorry, but what sane parents would allow their teenage child to traipse about Europe with no immediate way of contacting them and no backup whatsoever should her dead aunt not come through? Oh, and not only are these envelopes from her dead aunt, they are from her dead aunt that up and left with absolutely no notice several years ago, who is known for being crazy and erratic, and who died of a brain tumor. I'm sorry for the abundance of italics, but I am trying to emphasize just how completely and utterly unbelievable this is.
Unfortunately, that was not my biggest problem. While I certainly would've been side-eyeing it for a bit there, if this novel had pulled through with great writing, awesome characters, and smooth plotting, I could've dealt with it. I could've even enjoyed it. But sadly, it did not. The worst thing about this novel, for me, is that it was completely and utterly meh.
Ginny was meh. Over a hundred pages in and I still had not gotten the slightest hint of a personality from her. I didn't dislike her--she wasn't a bitch, and while she was a bit on the slow side, she wasn't a complete idiot- but I found it impossible to be emotionally invested in a robot.
The romance was meh. There wasn't the slightest hint of chemistry between the two of them. After seeing Keith perform for the first time (and not thinking of anything feelings-related) Ginny writes in her notebook (?) to her best friend, Miriam, who has not been mentioned once up to this point, and talks about how she thinks she may have a crush on him. Erm . . . ?
The writing, as well, was meh. It wasn't bad, and there were a couple good lines or parts that made me smile, but it was far too clunky and plain to carry the plot. Also, while I do realize that a plot like this calls for more description than the usual (after all, Ginny is a tourist) this was bogged down by so many descriptions that I soon found myself skimming large passages.
Finally, the plot just seemed all over the place. It was just so . . . nonsensical. There didn't seem to be a common thread carrying the story line. Things that you'd think should be big and important are glossed over. Boring and insignificant occurrences abound. There are several cases where something will be mentioned, or Ginny will spend several pages preoccupied by something, and then this ends up being completely irrelevant to the plot.
As I said, this book was not terrible, but I had absolutely no investment in it. If you're a big fan of MJ, or Europe, or eccentric aunts, then you very well may enjoy it, but it's not a book I would recommend.