Book review: Something Great by M. Clarke

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Okay, let’s talk about Something Great.

First of all, I have not been so tempted to DNF in ages.  I slogged through the beginning of this book, highlighting sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph, phrase after phrase that was either (1) cringeworthy, (2) awkwardly written, (3) incorrectly written, or (4) just awful.

But actually, let’s wrap up the plot here for a second.

Jeanella Mefferd (who literally has the worst name ever) is a shy, career-oriented woman who has never really felt any feels whatsoever.  She interviews for her dream job at Knight Magazine and happens to see the same hottie everywhere she goes.  He makes her feel all the feels.  But alas, Jeanella (who for some reason goes by Jenna?) is dating Luke, a stuffy carpet salesman or something.  I don’t even know.  Even she doesn’t like him.

The mysterious hottie turns out to be Maxwell Knight, son of the very Mr. Knight who owns the company.  Max relentlessly pursues Jenna, following her around, getting her address from the company database, finagling travel arrangements, calling her to his office for “meetings.” And why? Jenna has the all the personality of a doorknob!  I guess she’s supposed to be pretty or something, I don’t know.  But Max is obsessed with her from the first time he sees her.

And Jenna’s no better.  Despite having an entire prologue dedicated to how broken she is from her ex-boyfriend cheating on her, and how she can never trust a man again, and whatever… she continues dating Luke even as she realizes that she has zero feelings for him, and all the feels she’s ever felt in her entire life are for Max.  But she doesn’t want to hurt Luke, so she’d rather string him along as she tries to decide whether dating the owner’s son is worth it.

Of course, we all know who she chooses, and then it’s just cringy sex scene followed by cringy sex scene followed by more cringy sex scenes.  Followed by some drama and more cringy sex.

This book is so overly dramatic and awful.  Anyway.  I think I’ve successfully described the sheer horror that is this book’s plot.

Onto the writing.

Clarke feels that her character has to be quirky, so Jeanella/Jenna is allergic to alcohol.  Not only is she allergic to alcohol, but she feels the need to describe for us exactly when happens when our precious special snowflake is exposed:

“I was allergic to alcohol – so I took a sip of my soda instead.  When I did drink, which was rare, I would have a strong urge to urinate, and my whole body literally from head to toe would turn red like I had a bad sunburn.”

I thought, okay, this is fine.  I mean, doesn’t alcohol make everybody have to pee? But whatever.  I would avoid alcohol too if it made me turn red from head to toe.

BUT WAIT.

Jenna drinks alcohol ALL THE TIME.  One glass of wine and she’s collapsed on the floor, burning up and hallucinating.  Her friends are like, “OH ALCOHOL, HERE’S SOME MORE EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE ALLERGIC!!!”  One thing I will say about Max that worked in his favor was him NOT giving alcohol to Jenna.  He also didn’t take advantage of her upon finding her passed out drunk after two drinks.

“No, no, no.  You can’t touch me and I can’t touch you.  You don’t know how badly I want to take you right here and now, but it would be wrong, wrong by you, plus you have no idea of half of what I’m saying to you.” – Max, when Jenna tries to seduce him while drunk.

Poor writing, but still.  Way to be a gentleman, Max.

Enough about the alcohol.  Onto the apples.

Wait, what?  Yes, apples.  There is an entire two paragraph soliloquy on apples on page 27.  Followed by Jenna’s commentary on eating said apple throughout the next several pages.

“With the first bite, the juice streamed down my chin.  With a crunch, my teeth pulled the meat off, and I savored the taste.  “Mmm, good.”

“For a second I had forgotten about my date, and I stared at my half-eaten apple.”

“Becky handed my apple back to me, tugged me into the bathroom, and started to fuss with my face and hair.”

“Needing free hands, I bit the apple to hold it in place.”

“I turned to face Becky as I took the last bite of the apple.”

There are literally FOUR PAGES dedicated to Jenna eating this apple.  Enough with the apples.

This book needed an editor.

Jenna and Max hang out almost exclusively at the Cafe Express.  Which honestly sounds like either an airport kiosk or the worst restaurant ever.  I’m also not convinced about their food because Max is able to manipulate a Rice Krispy treat into a heart using only one hand inside a paper bag, not even looking.  I mean, that does not sound like the most quality food.

And yes, the heart-shaped Rice Krispy treats, much like the apple, are discussed to death.  I can never eat a Rice Krispy treat again.  This book has ruined them for me.

Clarke uses every cliche in the book to move her plot along.

✓ Jenna calls Luke by the wrong name, leading into a conversation about ending things.

✓ When Jenna and Max travel for work, their rooms have an adjoining door.

✓ “It’s our policy to check in on sick employees” as an excuse for breaking into Jenna’s apartment when she’s ill.

I mean, those are only three off the top of my head, but I don’t really want to spend much more time on this book than I already have.

It’s abundantly clear from the way that the sex scenes are written that Clarke wasn’t really comfortable writing them.  I’m not entirely sure why she felt the need to write this book if she’s uncomfortable with sex scenes, but it happened and now I’m going to talk about it.  So with that said, let’s get down and dirty with these characters.

I have never read a sex scene that was so cold and clinical as the first time that Jenna and Max are together.

“When his lips found my panties, he used his teeth to move them aside and teased my clitoris with his tongue.  ‘Max,’ I exploded.”

“’Do you want me?’ Max asked, teasing me with his erection grazing the entrance to my vagina.”

“’We don’t have to. We can just taste each other,’ he said, placing his hand where his penis was.”

Okay, so there has to be a middle ground when it comes to sex terms.

I am the type of reader that cringes when I see terms like “love cave” or “throbbing stick” or whatever in romance novels.  I am also the type of reader than cringes when “clitoris,” “penis,” and “vagina” are all used within the same two paragraphs.  There are other words that you can use.  I’m really sorry, but “then he put his penis in my vagina” is not sexy.

Granted, it does get better as the book continues, but it was never enough for me to lose myself in their story.

Oh, and lest I forget and spare you probably the best line of the book, here it is now:

“’Babe, it’s past midnight.’

‘What?’ I got to Max’s at eight.

‘We’ve been doing it…I mean…that long…I didn’t…’”

Excuse me while I die of laughter.  They had sex for four hours.  FOUR HOURS.  I feel like this book was written by a teenage boy who doesn’t really understand how sex works.  Meanwhile, I’m sitting here thinking about how sore poor Jenna would be the next day… and those Viagra commercials about the dangers of prolonged erections.

I’m going to wrap this up and just say that Something Great is not a book that I would consider great, not by any stretch of the imagination.  If you’re looking for something to entertain you, go ahead.  If you’re looking for the steamy read promised by the blurb, look somewhere else.

Final rating: ★☆☆☆☆