Book review: Dying to Forget by Trish Marie Dawson

Dying to Forget by Trish Marie Dawson
Series: The Station #1
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonGoodreads
Publication Date: August 3, 2010
Source: Freebie

For some, the day you die is only the beginning.

The Station books are part of a YA/NA Fantasy series that follow teenage anti-heroine, Piper Willow, after she dies and wakes up in the afterlife at a place called the Station, and is offered redemption – in the form of a job.

After Piper dies, she gets two choices: enter her own personal hell, or go back to Earth and become the voice of conscience inside a boy’s head. Can she save Sloan from meeting the same fate? A tale of hope that will warm your heart.

This was another Kindle freebie that I finally got around to reading. When I first finished this book, I was kind of ambivalent. Did I love it? Did I hate it? Was it even good? I gave it three stars and decided to let it roll around in my head for a few days before writing a review.

Now that I’ve had time to think about it, I have to say… I’m a little disappointed. I’ve changed my rating to two stars because I’m not entirely sure what this book was trying to do.

Let’s start with the plot. Piper is your average eighteen-year-old girl. She loves hanging out with her best friend, she’s excited to be finishing high school, and she’s thrilled that one of the most popular boys in her grade is finally paying attention to her. Then her life starts crumbling around her as the author delves into topics such as rape, self-harm, the death of a friend, and suicide.

Piper soon finds herself at The Station, a home for those who’ve died by suicide, where she’s told that she can either be alone with her thoughts forever or she can be the voice of reason in a teenager’s mind, trying to prevent them from committing suicide. Piper, of course, chooses to help her fellow teenagers. And, of course, she’s basically the best ever.

So. There are a few things about this book that I am questioning.

First, what is the point of this book? Is it to discuss those heavy topics of rape, self-harm, and suicide? Because, if so, it does a really bad job. After being raped, Piper swears off all men. (Understandable.) But then she spends about five seconds with her first case and is suddenly lusting after every boy she sees? Piper’s depression also seems to be immediately and miraculously cured after she enters The Station. There is really no discussion of anything that led to Piper’s suicide, which seems to be a huge cop-out.

Or maybe this book was supposed to be a romance? Because that’s definitely the vibe I got from Piper’s first case. Piper pops into this guy’s head and is immediately struck by how amazingly attractive he is. She encourages him to make friends but is disappointed when a female friendship for him turns into something more. Despite her repeatedly reminding herself that she’s there to make his life better, she is constantly jealous of him paying attention to other females. Imagine your conscience getting jealous of your relationships. It’s just weird.

And then there’s the book’s whole treatment of depression. Piper’s second case is a girl who is brutally bullied by her classmates. The girl cowers in corners, eats her lunch in the bathroom, and can hardly walk to class without being harassed. Piper has her straighten her hair and put some lip gloss on, and all of a sudden she’s Miss Popular. Her depression is cured. It’s a miracle. I mean… what? Was the author really trying to make the point that a quick makeover will cure depression?

This book ends on a cliffhanger, but I did not enjoy this book enough to find out what happens next. I’ll give it points for its unique premise and its better-than-average editing (for being a self-published freebie), but it really leaves a lot to be desired.

Book review: Him by Carey Heywood

Him by Carey Heywood
Series: Him & Her #1
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: AmazonGoodreads
Publication Date: July 2, 2013
Source: Freebie

Sarah Miller hasn’t been home in seven years. She thought she could stay away forever. If it wasn’t for her big brother’s wedding, that is. Part of her even feels silly for staying away this long. It’s not like anyone even knew what happened. Well, except for him.

That guy. The one she compared all others to. The one who set the bar so high no other guy after him could even compete. The one who made her feel like anything was possible. The one she thought she would never be good enough for. The one she spent the last seven years trying to forget.

All she needs to do is make it through the next week without running into him.

The last time Sarah was home, her boyfriend – no, scratch that – her best friend broke her heart. She ran away to the other side of the country (Trenton, NJ to be exact) to get away from all of the memories of him, and hasn’t been back for seven years. Now, her brother is getting married to a woman she hasn’t even met and she’s forced to fly back to stand up in his wedding. It’s time for her to face the past and come to terms with everything that happened. She knew memories of him would be everywhere, but she didn’t expect him to be such a big part of the festivities.

Okay, so first things first. This is pretty much your stereotypical second chance romance. It’s very much your typical new adult story, and I’ve probably read like fifteen books like it in the last couple years. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not good. Because it is. There’s just nothing surprising here, and that’s why I couldn’t give it more than three stars.

The story is good. I especially loved the flashbacks, because I could feel the connection between Sarah and Will. I liked that nobody was a billionaire, nobody had a weird job, and nobody had crazy backstories. These were really your average twenty-somethings, which was a really nice change. It starts as just a sweet relationship between teenagers… until a stupid misunderstanding ruins everything.

There are a couple things that I couldn’t go for:

  • If Sarah is so close to her family, how has she not been home in seven years? I mean, I personally have moved across the country (also to NJ), but I’ve still been back home several times in the last few years. Weddings, funerals, graduations… life happens, and it’s important to be present for it. How nothing happened over the last seven years to warrant a trip home kind of baffles me.
  • If Sarah and Will were such good friends for so long, how did they let a misunderstanding like this get between them? I mean, there’s a reason provided in the book, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense. I get how it could have happened if they had only just started dating, but they were friends for years before they started dating. It didn’t quite add up.
  • We don’t get any of the good stuff! Every time things go beyond a peck on the lips with these two, the scene just fades to black. Talk about a tease! I’ve seen more romance in most YA novels!

But aside from my complaints, I did really enjoy this book. I read it over a couple hours on the weekend and it was a nice surprise, especially for being a Kindle freebie. I’m still debating whether I want to her Her, the sequel. I absolutely loved Will and would love to get inside his head, but from what I understand, it’s just a retelling of Him. (And it’s not free, so I’m not entirely sure it’s worth it.) We’ll see.