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.
Have you read Down and Across? Which book has most disappointed you recently?
Let’s talk in the comments!