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Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Review - The Lighter Side of Life and Death by C.K. Kelly Martin

Was going to go with a Jaclyn Moriarty review for today, but this one had me up late last night, so I thought it deserved more attention. And, if you haven't entered my contest yet, go here for details.

Goodreads summary:
Acclaimed YA author C. K. Kelly Martin offers a sexy, soulful story of one confused boy, two girls, and all the complications that ensue in this romantic feel-good love story that celebrates friendship, first love, first lust, and second chances.

Sixteen-year-old Mason Rice is having the night of his life. He's just delivered an incredible performance in the school play, basked in celebratory afterglow vibes at the party of the year, and lost his virginity to one of his best friends—the gorgeous but previously unobtainable Kat Medina. His dreams are coming true, and the future looks golden.

Unfortunately, Kat sees things very differently. Crossing the friendship line was a big mistake, and all she wants is to forget it and move on, even if that means forgetting Mason altogether. What's a guy to do? Well, if you're Mason, you hang your hopes on the first attractive twenty-three-year-old you cross paths with. At first Mason wonders if he's imagining the chemistry . . . until Colette invites him over to her apartment. Suddenly Mason's living in a whole new world. 

If you're looking for a good male first person POV book to read, this one should definitely be on your list. I devoured this in one night. Ok, I admit it was also partly because it is so much sexier than anything I've been reading lately, and I miss that adult element in my literature. But the sex is also done very tastefully, and more importantly from a male perspective. There is a difference in how men and women view sex. I'm not saying that the MC takes it lightly - far from it - it's just different. And this story is a good illustration of that.

Mason's character was refreshing to me. I've read a handful of male-oriented books in the YA universe and in the majority of these, the MCs are a bit nerdy, a bit shy, and a bit maladjusted to the world around them and to girls in particular. Mason's not. He's confident (but not obnoxiously so), he's good looking (but not obsessed with his looks), he's got a positive attitude and most importantly he has focus in his life outside of girls and friends. All of this added up to a crush-worthy character that I admired. He reminds me a lot of one of my own MCs and so I felt really at home with him. 

Some other things that I really liked about this book:
1. The family element was well done and showed a unique side to Mason's character. During the early parts of the story you wonder why the author spends so much time developing this subplot, but then later you understand, and I think it really helped to develop Mason's character and show his positive attitude toward life - inviting new steps into your home is not an easy thing.

2. I loved the friendship dynamics that we see with Mason and Kat and his other best friend, Jamie. It felt very real and well, that's all I have to say about it.

Things about the writing that stand out:
1. The beginning could have been done better. There were too many characters introduced at once and along with them background info that was a turnoff for me. On top of this the author launches into a boring party scene where nothing really happens until the end. I felt Martin should have focused on the relationship between Kat and Mason in the first 1-4 pages because when she got to the part where they start talking (and eventually hooked up), I had to go back and read just to figure out who the hell she was. This was kind of strange considering how important she is throughout the rest of the story, and that Mason is so close to her and that he's had a crush on her for three years. Could have been much better done in my opinion.

2. The ending dragged a bit. I think the last three chapters could have been cut back to one with equal success. Or maybe I was just tired.

3. Dialogue was not really outstanding, there weren't any zingers the way you find in John Green's books, but it was authentic. The voice was there, but not really 'in your face' there. I think the story itself - wondering what was going to happen with the older chick was the thing that really motivated me to keep reading.

4. The cover. This could have been done so much better. I simply can't see a guy wanting to pick this book off the shelf. Can you? It gives the impression of something romantic and even a bit girly, but it's more a book about sex and relationships. While it would probably work for girls, I think it could be a turnoff for boys and that's kind of disappointing considering that it's written from the male perspective. What would have worked? I'm not sure, but the kissing isn't it. Second, I don't think the close up works very well except to remind us that some people have perfect skin. Third, I had to really look at it to tell which one is the boy and which the girl. Cover art gets a serious thumbs down from me.

My final score with this book is a 4. It definitely should be on your list if you're looking for more guy fiction. It's a page turner, but doesn't really get there until about 20 pages in, so be prepared.


Karla Calalang said...

Awesome review! I'll have to pick this up one day! :)

Sage said...

Wow, your reviews are awesome. I hadn't heard of this book, but it sounds great

Nomes said...

you could take this exact review and put I Know It's Over at the top :) B/c she does the same great job there of male POV and dialogue and her guy thinking about sex. i gave I know its over 4 :)

you write reviews so well - very compelling and matter of fact. I love it.

i've wanted to get this for a while (fingers crossed my library will get it in before i end up having to buy it...)


also, i love a good male POV. i have noticed a lot of US Male POV's are on the nerdy side. For some reason, abotu 50% of the Aussie YA I read is male POV - we have a lot of male authors as well in our genre here - but none of them are particular nerdy. kinda strange how the YA scene varies between countries.

Angie said...

Nomes - very interesting observation about Aussie YA male characters. I need to read more of these types of books. I'll probably check out her other ones.

And thanks for loving my reviews. That makes it worth doing because I never really know if I do a good job or not. So many others do them better - including a certain Aussie person I know who has a fangirl crush on JM. :)

Bee said...

This is a very well-considered review. I have her other book, I know It's Over on my TBR pile and I can't wait to get to it.

I'm not particularly fond of this cover, either. The guy looks like he's got fangs :P

Melanie said...

As always, your reviews are so thorough and concise. Just another book to add to my list of books that I want to read, but feel like I can't seem to get to :-( I can't keep up with you!



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