The Rock Star in Seat 3A by Jill Kargman
Where I stopped: Page 82-ish
The Rock Star in Seat 3A was one of my recent vacation reads, but I quickly regretted bringing so few books. This one was most definitely lacking for me.
The premise: the morning after her thirtieth birthday, narrator Hazel happens to be on a flight seated next to her rock god crush-to-end-all-crushes. Never believing she’d see this guy in the flesh, she’s dumbfounded — but the two have an instant connection, talking the whole time and sharing hopes and dreams, blah blah and so forth. On the surface, this totally works for me; I mean, should I find myself seated next to John Mayer en route to L.A., I’d be fixing my makeup and practicing my most alluring small talk. The opportunities to live vicariously through Rock Star are very appealing.
But what I found in Kargman’s novel was an awkward, unpolished manuscript desperately in need of an editor to whip it into shape and tone down the language. Look, I’m not a prude — but Hazel couldn’t seem to have one conversation without cursing to beat the band. It wasn’t clever, and it wasn’t cute. Plus, the writing was all tell, no show — and therefore boring.
It’s a slim book and a quick read, though. I could have finished it on my own plane ride . . . but I fell asleep.
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Girls In White Dresses by Jennifer Close
Source: Audio borrowed from library
Where I stopped: Disc four
Even with its awkward and interchangeable characters, I was willing to stick it out with Girls In White Dresses — especially since it had been heralded as representing the quintessential 20-something struggle to launch and create a fulfilling life, especially in our turbulent times.
But what I found were irritating characters in whom I saw little and expected nothing. Yes, “everyone” our age seems to be getting married and having kids; yes, it’s easy to feel left out and frightened we’re failing. Failing at life. Had these issues been explored through less obnoxious and superficial characters, Girls In White Dresses may have resonated with me. Goodness knows I’ve felt that way myself. But as it stood, this audio version was returned to the library unfinished . . . and without a trace of guilt. I just couldn’t take it anymore.
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9 thoughts on “Did-not-finish book thoughts: ‘The Rock Star in Seat 3A,’ ‘Girls In White Dresses’”
I listened to Girls in White Dresses and didn’t love it – I think you’re the only other person I’ve seen that didn’t. I just didn’t think it had much plot.
Agreed, Kathy. I had a hard time discovering any plot at all — especially when it flitted between so many different (but quite similar) characters.
Awesome honest reviews.
Noted on the first one and I feel you on the second one.
Yep…I have not read either one but I don’t think I really want to!
Hi! I found your blog (through slightly stalkerish ways) via Forever Young Adult. I always appreciate hearing why/when someone stops reading a book. I used to feel bad about abandoning a book but now I simply have too many books I want to read to be dragged down by something that isn’t working for me. I’ve seen Girls in White Dresses around a lot – blogs, websites, bookstore, but interesting to hear your reaction to it. Four or five years ago I probably would have read it anyway, but now a book like that with weak characters grates at me.
I have very little patience these days for vapid and/or uninteresting characters, so I’m appreciative that you culled a couple for me. I’m actually impressed you made it through four discs!
I DNF’d Girls in White Dresses too which disappointed me because I’d heard such great things about it!
Aww, I’m disappointed to hear about Girls in White Dresses. I had really high hopes for it. I still may try it…
This is a really good way to talk about DNFs.
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