Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Epic Reading List Mark Two Updated: The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

List Mark Two Updated: 5/13
1. Mockingjay -Suzanne Collins

2. First Test -Tamora Pierce
3. Darkness Falls -Cate Tiernan
4. Page -Tamora Pierce

5. Where Things Come Back -John Corey Whaley
6. Squire -Tamora Pierce
7. Beautiful Darkness -Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
8. Lady Knight -Tamora Pierce
9. Cinder -Marissa Meyer
10. Trickster's Choice -Tamora Pierce
11. The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight - Jennifer E. Smith
12. Trickster's Queen -Tamora Pierce
13. Halfway to the Grave -Jeanine Frost
14. Tortall and Other Lands -Tamora Pierce
15. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer -Michelle Hodkin

I have mixed feelings for The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. I love the idea and I really really wanted to love the book. I'm intrigued by the idea of the whole thing taking place over 24 hours. I sort of want to see if I can try something similar, a convincing love story in 24 hours, it's a challenge. In some ways I could see how that limits what Smith could manage but that wasn't my issue with the book.

I loved the interactions between Hadley and Oliver. They have such a fun dynamic. Oliver's wit is great and it brightens Hadley's character in such a great way. They work together and are better written characters when they're together. Their dialogue is the best written part of the book.

This conversation is a wonderful example:

"Those are cumulus clouds. Did you know that?"
"I'm sure I should."
"They're the best ones."
"How come?"
"Because they look the way clouds are supposed to look, the way you draw them when you're a kid. Which is nice, you know? I mean the sun never looks the way you drew it."
"Like a wheel with spokes?"
"Exactly. And my family certainly never looked they way I drew them."
"Stick figures?"
"Come on now," he says. "Give me a little credit. They had hands and feet too."
"That looked like mittens?"

Hadley isn't this lively with anyone else. And I do understand that that is part of the point of their connection. But her casual answers are great and the conversation reads rapid-fire.

I can't say for Oliver but Hadley comes off a little flat when she is without Oliver. The flashbacks should have served to build her up in the time constraints but instead I think I know more about her mom and dad than I do about her. I shouldn't know more about secondary characters than I do about the main character.

I think the biggest issue is that both Hadley spends most of the book focusing on this tragedy of her family breaking up and Oliver has a family death. They're both stories of loss. Typically loss stories are about how loss changes people. We don't know enough about Hadley and Oliver to see how it matters so much. It is still sad but it packs far less of a punch.

I had heard this book compared to Anna and the French Kiss. If you've read any of my earliest posts you know that I love Anna. Love doesn't even really cover it. I had such high hopes for this book. But it's not on Anna's level. It doesn't have the depth and wit that Anna has. I think that killed it a bit for me.

But I could handle the time constraints and how that forced the development if the book didn't come off so...after school special, in places. It felt way too much like everything between Hadley and her dad was suddenly okay. Hadley just suddenly realizes she doesn't want to miss anything with her dad and everyone is happy. Plus, Charlotte not really being pregnant but trying to wish it into being seemed like a cop out to avoid a time consuming confrontation. Why include that at all? (Just like, why include Oliver's ex? There was no time to explore or build on that). Hadley has plenty to dwell about anyway. They could have been another catalyst. Perhaps it is my preference to handle grief with sarcasm but the book got a little too melodramatic in places.

I think this book could have been great with just a bit more wry humor and a bit less sentimentality. Seeing some things through Oliver would have been cool. Like alternating point of views. The funeral revelation didn't come as too much of a shock. Seeing Oliver and why he didn't tell Hadley at first and what he initially thought of her would have been more dynamic.

Overall: Sort-of Epic. (Nearly just Epic)

In some ways this book reminded me a little of Amy and Roger's Epic Detour. But I think Amy and Roger was handled a little better.

Next we finish up Aly's adventure with Trickster's Queen by Tamora Pierce.

What did you guys think of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight?


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