I wanted to like this book, I did. It’s a mystery, which I tend to enjoy, and, more importantly, it has diversity. I just couldn’t get into it, though, and ending up setting it aside after 80 or so pages.
Scarlett is African American, her family is Muslim, and various people in her life are POCs. Diversity! The chance to see Islam in a much more positive light, even though Scarlett didn’t seem to be a big practitioner of Islam – it was simply a part of her life, but it was a large part whether she followed it completely or not. For that alone, I wanted to at least finish this book, but I just couldn’t.
I think it was the writing that really kept me from enjoying this book. It was written in a way that makes me think of cliched old-fashioned mystery noirs. A lot of metaphors and similes that recall lines like “she was a dame with legs that just didn’t quit” or something like that. Scarlett is also supposed to be about fifteen or so, but she had graduated high school already and had her own private investigation agency or something? It just seemed like this book should have been written about an adult so that it made more sense. And, based on the summary and the beginnings of the mystery, this might have been a surprise paranormal? I don’t even know.
It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t the book for me. If you like many, many similes and teenagers who seem like mini-adults, this would be more of your thing.
This is another debut that I wanted to like, but it just didn’t work for me, mainly because this is a dystopian and I’m still sick of them.
I thought that I could get past the dystopian element of this book because this book sounded like it would take an interesting look at reality TV and how it can twist things, especially in a dystopian setting. The protagonist is part of a reality show that is quite scripted and self-aware, but the “regular” people don’t know it or something. Of course, there are sinister things going on, like people with low ratings getting booted off and going “somewhere,” although no one really know. And, of course, the quiet protagonist has low ratings.
The main reason I struggled with this book is because I was really confused. Like many dystopians and science fiction stories, there were a lot of terms that are a part of this world that you’re really just supposed to figure out based on context. I’m not a fan of the infodump, but I was just so confused that it might have been preferable. I couldn’t get into the story, and after about 50 pages or three chapters in without caring whatsoever, I decided that this just wasn’t the book for me. I need a really great dystopian to pull me back in, and this book simply wasn’t one.
When I first started Cocaine Blues, the first book in the Phyrne Fisher mystery series, I thought this would be a one-and-done series for me, but by the time I got to the end, I had changed my mind.
The main reason I struggled with this book initially was because it was quite wordy. It’s a historical book that takes place in the ’20s in Australia (and England at the very beginning). Some people might appreciate the long descriptions of the clothes and other observations, but it bored me and kept me from getting into the story at first. After I started skimming those long and unimportant (in my mind, anyway) paragraphs, and the mystery itself started picking up, I found myself enjoying it a lot more.
If you just like a good mystery, then this is could be a decent read, but if you love mysteries and historical elements, then this is really your kind of book.