May 19, 2012

Review: Stay

By: Deb Caletti
Published: April 2011 by Simon Pulse
Format: Hardback, 313 pages
First Reviewed: September 2011
Buy: Barnes & Noble//Books-A-Million//Amazon//Book Depository
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Some secrets are strong enough to pull you under...

Clara’s relationship with Christian is intense from the start, and like nothing she’s ever experienced before. But what starts as devotion quickly becomes obsession, and it’s almost too late before Clara realizes how far gone Christian is—and what he’s willing to do to make her stay.
Now Clara has left the city—and Christian—behind. No one back home has any idea where she is, but she still struggles to shake off her fear. She knows Christian won’t let her go that easily, and that no matter how far she runs, it may not be far enough....

Rating: 1/5

So...I should have noticed the first red flag right off the bat, before I even considered getting this. Read the tagline. Now read the description. Tagline is about secrets, description is about running from an obsessed boy, more or less. Problem? Two majorly different major premises. And it was clear throughout this book that Caletti didn't know which she wanted to have as her main one. Needless to say, I didn't like this book. And the above is only one of many reasons.

I'm going to start with the good. There were a few lines in this that I really liked. Quote-like material, methinks. But...that's it. That's all I liked with Caletti's style. A few lines a few chapters.

Everything else just didn't work for me. From the very first chapter (about 6-7 pages long), I already had three things I didn't like, and all three had to do with the writing style. The MC's voice, her talking to the reader, and the writing in general. "Entirely" is used four times in a page and a half. Well, three "entirelys" and an "entire." That only set it up for the entire (pun intended) book.

Clara's voice was annoying. I couldn't stand it. Not to mention I absolutely despised the footnotes. Then, add the fact that she spoke directly to the reader, and I was very, very annoyed. Unless you're going to pull off talking to the reader like, say, Lauren Oliver, you just may not want to even do it. Anyway...back to the style.

Repetition. With. Flipping. Words! JESUS! Like I said already, "entirely" was overused, then "cliche," which, by the way, makes something cliche, and then "Jesus." And...the "f" word. Seriously, I couldn't take it. There was no need for all the f-bombs.

However, regardless of the repetition and annoying voice and footnotes, the writing was blah. I never got into it. I found myself skimming the obsessive amounts of prose that wasn't needed, in my opinion. I felt Caletti relied way too much on the prose, when she should have given more to the dialogue, because her prose was not in any way strong enough to develop the characters, plot, or messages.

Ahem...I'm not sure if I should bother commenting on the characters. I don't have much good to say, so I'll try and keep it brief. Boring, dull, annoying, unrealistic, and underdeveloped. All of them.

Clara was a terrible MC, to be frank. I've already mentioned how annoying her voice was, but my biggest issue, which may actually be my biggest issue with the entire book, was that she was unrealistic and I never felt a single ounce of emotion from her. The girl is being stalked, for crying out loud! What in the world is she doing acting so normal?! New boyfriend almost immediately, new job almost immediately, and giggles giggles giggles. Really?! It seemed like she'd forget everything until Caletti would remember to slip in the facts about her being afraid/nervous/whatever. Oh yeah! I'm supposed to be being stalked right now! Please...

And about her dad? Uh...didn't like him either. For one, he cussed too much. For two, I felt as though he was all talk. And three, he was just as annoying as Clara. Also, he seemed to change about a third of the way through, for no apparent reason. The man in the beginning seemed completely different from the guy we got by that point, and not for development reasons, either.

As for the remaining characters? What remaining characters? If you mean Christian, I didn't like him (not in the way that we're supposed to; in the way that he wasn't creepy, just annoying and underdeveloped) and never understood what Clara fell in love with him in the first place. His accent was the only reason I could see, which, if that's what girls are falling in love with now, we have a problem. Finn? Was he supposed to be the love interest we readers fell in love with? Because I didn't give a rat's behind about him. Shakti? Sure, an okay friend, I guess. Everyone else? Just blah. Blah, blah, blah. I didn't care about them. Not at all.

Plot? There was a plot in this? A premise, sure. Two actually. The whole stalker premise and the whole "secrets are coming out" premise. The former was ridiculous, to be blunt. It was washed over, and I didn't even care. Caletti flip-flopped between the relationship parts with Christian--which gave no real insight, in my opinion, to their connections and feelings--and the present, where Clara's on the beach for the summer, hiding from Christian. She might as well have been on vacation for all I cared.

The secret aspect was silly too. Caletti could have done without it. Sure, it could have made for interesting conflict if 1) The main plot--the stalking--would have been center stage, developed, and, well, amazing, and 2) If it wasn't so...just blah. A few big secrets surface and they were just glazed over. I'm thinking of all the elements Caletti through in this and am seeing all the ways she could have connected them to keep the reader invested.

But the actual plot? It was boring. I was literally bored out of my mind at one point to where I would read a page, then grab my iPod and start playing with it. I just didn't care. There was no fear, no emotion, no creepiness. The romance was a joke. The romance between her dad and _______ (to avoid spoilers) was a joke. Clara's relationships with everyone were jokes. There was just no development or realism anywhere.

Other: I've mentioned the obsessive use of the "f" word, but there are also more curse words as well. You see, followers, this is the type of cussing that I'll tell you to avoid. The kind that doesn't fit with the characters, that's overly obsessive, and that can easily be scrapped. Also, what's with all the foreign people in this book? Seriously, it was nuts. Nothing against foreignness (I mean, you all know I'd love different cultures so much), but jeez. And I just have to say it again: I hated the footnotes. They were dumb. (I'm sorry--I hate calling things in books dumb--but they were.)

I'm so disappointed in this book. It was one I was very much looking forward to. I thought it would make me feel, make me cry, make me happy, and everything in between. But instead, I'm left feeling annoyed by the characters, the plot, and the writing. There was just no development in any way. Sadly, this is one of the few books I actually regret reading and spending birthday money on.

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