Author: Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: October 15th 2013
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
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My rating: 2 out of 5 starsEver since his mom died, Cole just feels stuck. His dad acts like a stranger, and Lauren, his picture-perfect girlfriend of two years, doesn’t understand him anymore. He can’t ditch his dad, so Cole breaks up with Lauren. She doesn’t take the news very well, and Cole’s best friend won’t get off his case about it.
Now more than ever, Cole wants to graduate and leave his small, suffocating town. And everything is going according to plan—until Cole discovers the one secret that could keep him there…forever.
I was really excited for this book. It sounds straight up my alley, and the cover is great. Sadly, though, I was very disappointed. I actually really liked the beginning because many of the storylines had great potential. Over the course of the novel, though, everything turned out to be kind of melodramatic, cliched, and underdeveloped, which is why I didn't really enjoy Anywhere But Here.
The romance was probably the storyline that I liked the most at first: I was really excited to see this unique take on the love triangle story play out. After breaking up with his long-time girlfriend, Lauren, Cole starts talking to Hannah, the girl known as the school slut. This storyline had a lot of potential to explore Hannah's very interesting character, and especially the first scene in which Hannah opens up impressed me. Sadly, though, the romance went downhill fast, mainly because Cole is somewhat of a sexist asshole. His relationship with Hannah turns out to be pretty much exclusively physical and, instead of letting the "school slut" tell her story in any meaningful way, just encourages slut shaming because sex seems to be all that Hannah is good for in her relationship with Cole. The drama in Cole's relationships with both Hannah and Lauren is kind of crazy and unrealistic, making me very disappointed in the romance aspect of the novel.
The same goes for the family storyline. It seemed interesting at first, but things turned out to be too crazy and all over the place after a while. The whole thing with Cole's dad seemed very cliched to me. That would have been fine if the writing had added some depth to the overused storyline, but but it didn't. We got no insight into Cole's dad's thinking and motivations, leaving me very confused and unsure how to feel about the whole thing.
I was also confused about Cole's view of his small town life and his future. At the beginning of the novel, Cole desperately wants to leave his small town behind, and decides that the way to do it is to go to film school far away. (Which in itself seems kind of random, since Cole has never tried to make a film before.) In order to get into film school, he makes a short film portraying how people are stuck in his small town, which he calls the Web. Along the way, though, he discovers that his town isn't so bad after all. The implications of that confused me, since his further plans for the future aren't really elaborated on after that. That revelation seemed very anticlimactic to me, considering the synopsis says that Cole discovers some big secret about his town.
Really, my complaints with all the storylines are more or less the same. They each have great potential but turn out to be melodramatic and cliched. The plot is too crazy and unrealistic, in almost every storyline. Especially the sexism in the romance made it hard for me to like reading from Cole's POV. Anywhere But Here was just disappointing all around.