Author: Hilary Weisman Graham
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release date: June 12th 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
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1 Concert, 2000 Miles, 3 Ex-Best Friends
Alice, Summer, and Tiernan are ex-best friends. Back in middle school, the three girls were inseparable. They were also the number one fans of the rock band Level3. But when the band broke up, so did their friendship. Summer ran with the popular crowd, Tiernan was a rebellious wild-child, and Alice spent high school with her nose buried in books. Now, just as the girls are about to graduate, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion show. Even though the concert’s 2000 miles away, Alice buys three tickets on impulse. And as it turns out, Summer and Tiernan have their own reasons for wanting to get out of town. Good thing Alice’s graduation gift (a pea-green 1976 VW camper van known as the Pea Pod) is just the vehicle to get them there. But on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road. Will their friendship get an encore or is the show really over?
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars
I wanted to love this book. The whole idea sounded like so much fun - I love road trip books, especially ones set in the summer after high school. And three ex-best friends reuniting to see their ex-favorite band perform is such a cool idea. Reunited sounded like a book I could love, but unfortunately, it didn't happen.
The unique concept caused for a fun plot, but I believe the characters suffered from it. To me, they fell flat. Alice is the brainy, control-freak-ish one; Tiernan is the troubled, rebellious one; and Summer is the misunderstood popular girl. Sadly, the character development doesn't go much deeper than that - the three girls pretty much just embody those cliches. I never really felt like I got to know them, aside from those cliches. The only times they showed some real personality were the scenes where they got whiny and annoying. The character growth was disappointing to me - I felt like they didn't change much over the course of the novel, except that they don't hate each other anymore at the end. I didn't love the characters, and for me, it's hard to love a book without loving the characters.
Surprisingly, the book felt too immature for me. I generally don't mind books that are for people a little younger for me, but because Alice, Summer and Tiernan are my age, I was expecting some more maturity. The attitudes of all three characters seemed more freshman-year than just-graduated-high-school. Maybe it's because they're being nostalgic and going back to middle school, back when they fangirled for their favorite band, and their attitude matches the way they were back then. Either way, the unnecessary drama and unwillingness to communicate felt more like younger YA to me. The reason I love older YA and new adult books is the uncertainty about life - I don't want younger YA, where the character doesn't need to think about what they'll do with their life, and I don't want adult books, where everything is already settled. I want books where the characters are trying to figure out their place in this world, characters that have some idea of what they'll do with their lives but aren't completely sure yet. And I didn't get any of that from Reunited - it's mentioned where each of the girls is going to college, but I have no idea what their plans are, what they're thinking of doing with their lives. The future isn't really mentioned all that much, which surprised me, since right now, for me and the people in my graduating class (as in, people the same age as Alice, Summer, and Tiernan), the future is what we're all about. That just added to the immature feel of the book.
Then there's the predictability and the cliched-ness of the plot. I'm sorry, but there's only so much unrealistic cheesy-ness I can take, and Reunited crossed the line. The unrealistic ending and all the too-good-to-be-true situations in the book bugged me. I was also annoyed by the constant mentions of the Winter Wonderland Dance - that frustrated me so much! Not a chapter goes by without a character hinting at the fallout the three best friends had at the dance their freshman year, but what really happened isn't revealed until the end. Sure, that's supposed to hook the reader and whatnot, but I didn't think that was necessary at all. The constant mentions and the underwhelming revelation at the end did nothing but annoy me.
But despite all of this, this book does cause for some fun, entertaining scenes. I did very much enjoy the road trip and all the crazy stuff they encounter along the way. A lot of the ridiculous stuff these girls get themselves into had me laughing out loud. I did enjoy Reunited, but I was disappointed by the lack of character development and the immature feel to the book. It's a fun, quick read, but don't go in expecting too much, like I did, or you'll end up disappointed.