Author: Steve Emond
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: December 5th 2011
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
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Every winter, straight-laced, Ivy League bound Evan looks forward to a visit from Lucy, a childhood pal who moved away after her parent's divorce. But when Lucy arrives this year, she's changed. The former "girl next door" now has chopped dyed black hair, a nose stud, and a scowl. But Evan knows that somewhere beneath the Goth, "Old Lucy" still exists, and he's determined to find her... even if it means pissing her off.My rating: 2 out of 5 stars
To be honest, I bought this book because of the cover. I mean, just look at it - it's the epitome of what I wish all YA covers could be. I'd heard less-than-stellar things about Wintertown, but I couldn't resist buying it, just to own a book with that beautiful cover. Sadly, what I'd heard was right - the actual book does not live up to the awesomeness of the cover, and I ended up very disappointed by Wintertown.
The whole story just didn't work for me. Really, the description isn't even accurate. Yes, Lucy has changed from when Evan last saw her, but trying to get back to their old friendship is not the main part - that happens within the first 30 pages. What Wintertown is really about is how this childhood friendship develops into romance. Or maybe not romance, but some kind of relationship, even if it's one that's not exactly functional. And I honestly would have preferred the story that the description depicts; I love romance, too, but I didn't like how their issues were reduced to unnecessary romance-related drama.
Either way, focused on friendship or romance, this should have been a character-driven novel. And sadly, I found the character development to be lacking; both Evan and Lucy stay one-dimensional. Evan is the typical repressed-artist type of character, doing whatever his dad tells him to get into a good college and become a lawyer just like daddy while secretly wanting to break free from the control of his family and work on his art. I don't always mind characters like that; if you add something new to it, that can be a great character scope. But there was nothing about Evan that really struck me as new, nothing that hasn't been done a million times before. Still, Evan's character disappointed me less than Lucy's. Lucy is supposed to be completely changed and oh so troubled, but... I just didn't see it. She died her hair black and got her nose pierced, and that's it - that's what makes her so different and such a "bad girl." Oh, and she had sex with her boyfriend, and she fights with her mom. So, basically, she's a teenager. There's nothing to her character that made me believe she actually is troubled, that the "Old Lucy" needs to be saved; nothing in Lucy's life is that big of a deal, really. I was expecting strong character development and lots of character growth, but these characters stayed cliched and one-dimensional.
These issues with the character development made it hard for me to get emotionally invested in the story. And that's the real problem here - I just couldn't get myself to care about what happened to the characters. I was just reading to read, not because I had any real interest in the characters' lives. When I don't love the characters, I can rarely relate to the story, which made it hard for me to get anything out of this read.
One thing I did like were the illustrations. The illustrations are quirky and add a lot to the story, and I love when authors do something different like that. The illustrations were probably my favorite part of the novel.
Still, that wasn't enough to save the novel for me. The underdeveloped characters made it impossible for me to get emotionally invested in the story, so I never really got into it. But I guess I'll be keeping the book on my shelf for the beautiful cover alone.