Book review: Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi

Down and Across by Arvin Ahmadi
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 6, 2018
Source: Purchased

Scott Ferdowsi has a track record of quitting. Writing the Great American Novel? Three chapters. His summer internship? One week. His best friends know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but Scott can hardly commit to a breakfast cereal, let alone a passion.

With college applications looming, Scott’s parents pressure him to get serious and settle on a career path like engineering or medicine. Desperate for help, he sneaks off to Washington, DC, to seek guidance from a famous professor who specializes in grit, the psychology of success.

He never expects an adventure to unfold out of what was supposed to be a one-day visit. But that’s what Scott gets when he meets Fiora Buchanan, a ballsy college student whose life ambition is to write crossword puzzles. When the bicycle she lends him gets Scott into a high-speed chase, he knows he’s in for the ride of his life. Soon, Scott finds himself sneaking into bars, attempting to pick up girls at the National Zoo, and even giving the crossword thing a try–all while opening his eyes to fundamental truths about who he is and who he wants to be.

So let me start by saying one thing: I love crossword puzzles. My mom is a crossword puzzle fanatic and I’ve been doing them since I was in elementary school. When I heard about this debut novel featuring a girl who wants to write crossword puzzles and a high school kid on an adventure, it immediately shot to the top of my TBR. This should have been a book that I loved, but I just… actually hated it.

To start off, Scott is the worst. He’s a whiny, entitled brat who literally runs away from home because he doesn’t want to do the internship that his father got for him. At sixteen years old. What kind of kid has the opportunity to do an actual internship at sixteen years old? And then throws it away because of a temper tantrum? Takes a bus to Washington, DC? Lies about who he is to get a room in a hostel? Pesters a famous psychology professor until she gives him a different internship that he actually wants? Constantly lies to everyone around him? I mean… THE WORST. I actually hated Scott.

And Fiora? Normally I’m not that hard on manic pixie dream girls, but come on. What was the point of Fiora? She just kind of flits around being quirky and like… weirdly flirting with this sixteen-year-old kid even though she’s in college. And don’t even get me started on Jeanette, because any girl who introduces herself by saying “all girls are crazy except me” is actually crazy and you should stay away from her. I didn’t see a point to any female character in this book except maybe Dr. Mallard, and even that’s pushing it. Also, no offense, but I just pictured a duck every time she was mentioned.

I just felt like this book was so poorly constructed. Nothing made sense. How exactly does this sixteen-year-old kid get away with all of this? I don’t want to get into spoilers, but he is consistently treated as if he’s at least eighteen years old (and frequently as if he’s 21) and… have you seen a sixteen-year-old recently? Because I have, in the medical office where I spend at least forty hours of my week, and let me tell you… I am not mistaking any sixteen-year-old for a legal adult.

This is maybe a book that I would have enjoyed more as an actual teenager who didn’t have experience as an adult in the real world. It felt like every YA stereotype that drives people crazy was haphazardly thrown into one book with some crossword puzzles added in for good measure. I’m just so, so disappointed.

Two stars because at least it wasn’t as bad as Troll.

#mm18: new or old
#killingthetbr: 4 months on shelf

Have you read Down and Across? Which book has most disappointed you recently?
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Book review: Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar

Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar
Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Links: AmazonTBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 1, 2016
Source: Purchased

Jess Gordon is out for revenge. Last year the jocks from Knights College tried to shame her best friend. This year she and a hand-picked college girl gang are going to get even.

The lesson: don’t mess with Unity girls.

The target: Blondie, a typical Knights stud, arrogant, cold . . . and smart enough to keep up with Jess.

A neo-riot grrl with a penchant for fanning the flames meets a rugby-playing sexist pig – sworn enemies or two people who happen to find each other when they’re at their most vulnerable?

It’s all Girl meets Boy, Girl steals from Boy, seduces Boy, ties Boy to a chair and burns Boy’s stuff. Just your typical love story.

I am, slowly but surely, making my way through all of the books I impulsively bought myself over the summer. Summer Skin is a book that I had seen floating around a lot around the time of its original publication in Australia and then again when it was published in the US. It had mixed reviews, but most books with a feminist message usually do. My expectations were (reasonably) high, but I was just so disappointed by this book.

The biggest problem I had with this book is the fact that, aside from your stereotypical new adult storyline, absolutely nothing happens in this book. Jess and Mitch get together, grow apart, get together, grow apart, and get together again. They fight, they want to be together, they argue about whether they’re ever going to kiss, they have some misunderstandings… it’s just exhausting.

In addition to that, there are wayyy too many music references in this book. We rarely went two pages without some specific band being referenced, from P!nk to Tame Impala to Lorde to The Ting Tings. I’m sure that some of these references will age well, but in 2018, are college kids really partying to The Ting Tings? They’re from my college days. Ten years ago.

I’ve also seen so many reviews talking about how sexy this book is. Did I read the same book as everyone else? I cringed at every sex scene. I couldn’t get over how Mitch was willing to do anything sexual with Jess but he thought that kissing would take it too far.

Maybe I’m officially too old for new adult now.

#killingthetbr: 4 months on shelf

Have you read Summer Skin? Is it on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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