Tuesday 27 May 2014

Review: Nantucket Blue

Title: Nantucket Blue (Nantucket #1)
Author: Leila Howland
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Released: 7th May 2013
Rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nantucket Blue has all the appearance of being a promising book, one in which exploration of relationships and identity is complemented by some summery overtones.  At the very least it looks as though it might work as a light summer read.  To find that it worked mostly as a source of irritation instead was not exactly welcome.  For any potential that was in here - and there certainly was some - it was eclipsed by too many other things that were going on.
The story centres around Cricket, who is looking forward to summer.  For once, things are going to be different.  Rather than stay at home babysitting she's going to be going to Nantucket, spending the holiday with her best friend, Jules, and Jules' family.  Inevitably, of course, things don't work out so happily: she's in Nantucket, but the family are suffering from a recent tragedy, leaving Cricket to support herself and pass the summer without doing any of the fun stuff she was supposed to be doing with Jules.
Almost immediately I could see that Cricket and I were not going to be friends.  For someone whose best friend has just suffered from a tremendous loss, she comes across as remarkably attention-seeking.  It was like she couldn't help herself.  There were a number of actions and decisions on her part that left me wishing I could reach into the book and shake her, forcing her to realise what she was doing, because I could see what was going to happen.  Sure enough, Jules pulls away from her increasingly more.  To be honest, though, for a lot of her behaviour there was no excuse.  Objectively I could sympathise - in reality I didn't - but Cricket was not the only one at fault for the way Jules treated her.  Her loss did not make up for that.  Really this was never meant to be a successful relationship.  The latter character was simply not nice, and Cricket astounded me with how whiny and selfish she could be.  There were moments when I had hope, when it seemed like there was some sort of improvement, both in character and writing, but always it deflated.  Everything became drama, and once again I resumed reading with rapidly devolving patience.
The drama was not constrained simply to this relationship.  It managed to float into the romance side of things and the family aspect.  Some of Cricket's behaviour involving boys was, again, simply not on.  Moreover, the love interest did not really arouse my interest very much.  He was sweet, certainly, but so what?  This sounds harsh, but there was nothing that made him special.  At least, not special in the sense that I could appreciate him in his role.  As for the circumstances surrounding this romantic intrigue, they were all very well, but it progressed predictably.  That just leaves the family angle.  This, I think, was where some of the real potential lay.  Cricket's family was neither happy nor united, and this part of the book gave rise to some interesting themes.  Had these been taken further, Cricket and her mother would have won some of my sympathy, her father I would be more kindly disposed towards and, I suspect, there would have been a nice amount of character growth on more than one account.  At one point Cricket and her mother especially genuinely seemed to be working towards some kind of strengthened relationship.  I felt true disappointment on seeing that things were left at such a flat level, either being added in for no seeming purpose or, possibly worse, gratuitous dramatic impact. 

In a word, this book made me tired.  There was a relatively decent basis here, but it all seemed to be weighed down by drama and sigh-inducing qualities.  Normally I would have gone on to the sequel, but I'm finding lately that I'm being more selective, identifying more than ever those that would just be best to let go of.  And in reading the synopsis for the second book, I don't think I could take any more.  So it is at this point that I'll say goodbye to the world of Nantucket Blue.

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