Sunday, November 30, 2014

Book Review: Since You've Been Gone

While Since You've Been Gone, by Morgan Matson, had a captivating plot device, it ended up being just a good, but not a great, read. I appreciated that the language and events remained clean. Although I liked the main character, I was more intrigued by the missing one and not much was really revealed about her until the very end, and even then, my response was sort of "meh."

The teaser from the front cover sucked me in: "It was Sloane who yanked Emily out of her shell and made life 100% interesting. But right before what should have been the most epic summer, Sloane just ... disappears.  All she leaves behind is a to-do list.

"On it, thirteen Sloane-inspired tasks that Emily would normally never try. But what if they could bring her best friend back? Apple picking at night? Okay, easy enough. Dance until dawn? Sure. Why not? Kiss a stranger? Um...

"Emily now has this unexpected summer, and the help of Frank Porter (totally unexpected), to check things off Sloane's list. Who knows what she'll find?"

So, there's a list of thirteen off-the-wall activities for Emily to cross off. All of the activities take her out of her comfort zone, but she ends up making new friends in the process and finally comes to discover some clues to help her locate her missing friend. There's a little romance between Emily and Frank, complete with the friction of a girlfriend away at a summer program at Princeton. Emily begins to be brave on her own and to stand on her own two feet, without the assistance of Sloane.

But what about Sloane? Who just up and leaves a best friend without any word besides a list of things to accomplish in her absence? Who doesn't even bother to answer her phone to let the friend know she is okay? The mysterious Sloane annoyed me. It was the part of the book I liked the least. Even though the situation resolved in the end, it still left a bad taste in my mouth. Sure, both characters grew throughout the process, but I just wasn't as on board with the way the growth took place.

The one person I kept thinking of while reading this book was my blogging friend, Amy. Since she is a runner who listens to playlists while running, and Emily and Frank bond mostly through their morning runs, I thought perhaps this would appeal to Amy. For me, I didn't recognize many of the songs (just not a pop music kind of person) and thus, felt totally in the dark about the significance of the titles and bands.

I don't want to imply that it was a bad read. It wasn't. The writing was smooth. The plot moved along at an amiable pace. There was just enough conflict to keep the reader engaged and interested. I guess, in the end, it was a decent read but just okay, and at 449 pages, it was a lot to invest for an okay read.

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