Friday, July 31, 2015

Readalikes: Girl on the Train, The Fixer, Daughter of Deep Silence

Amigos, I'm trying something new today.  Here are three books I've read this summer that struck me as easy readalike suggestions.  All would be excellent beach books, but only one smells like a fish.  Are any of them school-summer reading list worthy?  No.  Do you care?  No.  They're beach bag worthy, and that's all you need, besides sunblock, a cold beverage, and a beach.  And probably a beach bag to put them in.  

Here are your readalikes, friends:

  • Girl on the Train vs. Gone Girl  
  • The Fixer vs. Scandal
  • Daughter of Deep Silence vs. Revenge

Read on for reviews:

In an attempt at feigning normalcy, an alcoholic, down-on-her-luck woman rides a daily train to central London.  She daydreams an ideal life for the inhabitants of a house she passes regularly that neighbors one from her past that haunts her, and believes she is the sole witness to the truth when the wife of that house disappears, bringing the past and the present explosively together. 

Basically this is all you need to know:

Did you like Gone Girl?

Yes?  You will love this book.

No? You will probably not like this book but will also probably not be able to put it down.  

Spoiler/not-spoiler alert: the only non-reprehensible character in this is a baby who is basically a plot device...and therefore nearly makes the cut.  Despite the tone, I say read this!  It’s kind of gripping fun but be warned you may inexplicably crave a cigarette and or a magnum of cheap wine after.  This is an adult book with strong appeal for more mature teens.

Do you like the TV show Scandal?

Yes? You will love this book.  

No?  Have you seen Scott Foley shirtless?

Creep on that and then reasses.  He's writing me an email in that one, FYI. Still no?  You’re probably a straight dude  who thinks reduced fat cheese is a respectable and will make you look like that.  Probably you also won’t stop talking about the cinematography in season one of True Detective.  So Ima get on your level.  Have you seen Olivia Pope I  mean Kerry Washington?  Still a no?  Your punishment is reduced fat cheese and allegedly season 2 of True Detective, but also, fine.  WHATEVER.  You may win, because if Scandal were a soda, it would probably be a diet soda.  Aka: saccharine bomb.  But not a diet cheese.  Because why even bother?!

Clearly I went off the rails there, and we’re talking about The Fixer, but whatever - The Fixer is in so many ways more fun than Scandal while being a total and undeniable homage.  If you are a grown up who reads this and watches say, Scandal, and you don’t predict the big plot twists coming, I will hug you after a summer run.  Trust me, you don’t want to do that to yourself.  

Here is the gist:  16-year-old Tess is brought to live with her older sister Ivy in DC when Ivy discovers the severity of their grandfather’s dementia.  Tess realizes in roughly five minutes that Ivy is high powered and known amongst the powerful DC politicos, and soon learns from her classmates that Ivy is what is best known as a fixer (see also: Olivia Pope, skeletons/closets).  Tess can’t abide or ignore bullying, and soon is sucked deep into the dangerous fixer world when her new friends father performs a surgery that results in the death of another classmate's grandfather who happens to be a Supreme Court justice.  Soon Tess is crashing state dinners, having tea with first ladies, manipulating politicians, stealing cell phones, and learning to drive in DC.  

I couldn’t put this one down, and didn’t care that it plied heavily upon my Scandal addiction.  I suspect even the snobbiest snobs will find this a really fun summer read.  It definitely stinks of hopeful publisher sequelitis, so I hope any further iterations are just as fun!  Bonus points for several  non-white characters. FYI: this is solidly YA.

Remember how the previous book was basically one character named Olivia Pope away from being a Scandal fanfic?  This is cut from the same cloth, which I believe a certain emperor sported.  However, this one is...well, it's blatant that it’s just Revenge, lightly tweaked with shiny new characters and plotlines, just enough different to allow those of us who want to pretend it is original to do so.  It is best described as a bit treacly and pithily overwrought at points, and borders on straight up romance trope writing about 25-50% of the time, while spending the same amount of time attempting to convince itself it maybe isn’t.  Can you tell I found it totally the opposite of the fun I found in The Fixer? In the author’s defense, the stuff about deterioration and survival while lost at sea is grossly fascinating and reflects some research.  And, disclaimer: I did listen to this book on tape, and woah.  Woah.  I did not like the narrator, whose attempt to sound like a teenager can best be described as eyeball roll inducing.  

I’m not going to say much more, but I will suggest you read In the Forrest of Hands and Teeth instead of this one if you want a fun rec.  Why? In the most eye-roll inducing moment of this whole book, meet a character named Shepard Oveja.  Just run that last name through a Spanish-English translator, and you will understand the “oh no she didn’t” face I sported for most of the car ride I spent listening to this.  Yeah, it’s explained (way late) in the book, but by that point I was pretty committed to believing it was the best worst character name/poor attempt by an author at allusion or character development in 2015.  Shepard Oveja, you guys.  Maybe it’ll be better in print, but Dutton, shame on you for a shameless and obvious money-grab.  
Carrie Ryan, I’m way looking forward to your next, more original title. I mean...come on.  This is one bandage dress away from obvious. Compare the book trailer for this to the trailer for season one of Revenge.

I rest my case! 

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