Wednesday, October 7, 2009
FitG Update: Just Listen
Just Listen was my first Sarah Dessen book.
I don't know how I feel about it, so bear with me.
Sarah Dessen is a very celebrated writer, a best seller in YA.
I liked a lot about this book. The dialogue was real. I liked the character Owen. I liked the way Dessen built the story. (The climax was a bit of a let down after all the careful build up, but, that's okay. We'll all live.) I could relate to Annabel, the main character, but I'm not sure if I could relate for the right reasons.
And here's why I'm not sure how I felt about the book. It seemed to me that Dessen broke all the rules with this book. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but, when you're reading agent blogs about what they're looking for and what the main pitfalls of many first-time writers are, and then you pick up a book by a bestselling YA author who falls into all of those pits and still has a best selling career ... it just makes you wonder.
Here are some rules that Dessen broke.
(1) Back story. The whole beginning of the book seemed to be back story. I almost didn't read the whole thing because I got bored waiting for something to happen.
(2) Narrative. What happened to the writing golden rule: show, don't tell? Main character Annabel tells us everything we want to know about her. She doesn't show us much.
(3) Passive main character. I can relate to Annabel because I'm a passive person, too. Passive people usually aren't very interesting. Annabel, unfortunately, wasn't very interesting. There were other interesting characters, but the mc wasn't one of them.
It just goes to show you that once you get 5-10 best sellers under your belt, people are buying your name and the rules can go out the window.
That should be encouraging ... I guess.
Overall, I didn't hate this book. I wasn't crazy about it, either. I'll probably read another Sarah Dessen as part of my YA education, but I think I'll go for something on the best seller list to see what got her there in the first place.