Monday, November 28, 2011

Review: LoveSick by Jake Coburn

Title: LoveSick
Author: Jake Coburn
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release date: September 22nd 2005
Pages: 240
Genre: Contemporary YA; romance
Sources: Bought
Find out more: Amazon ; Goodreads

Goodreads description:
Ted's drunk-driving accident has ruined his life. It cost him his basketball scholarship, ended his plans for college, and forced him into AA. But just when Ted has resigned himself to his new life, Michael appears. The wealthy father of a bulimic Manhattan rich girl has a tempting proposition. He has agreed to pay for Ted's college tuition, but there's one catch. Ted has to secretly keep tabs on his benefactor's daughter, Erica. A seemingly simple task, with only one minor problem: Ted never expected to fall in love.

First sentence:
John leaned forward and set his Styrofoam cup in between the front legs of his folding chair.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

While there are things I liked and things I didn't like about this book, one thing's for sure: LoveSick is definitely different - different from anything I've read before, and different from what I'd expected. The first thing that surprised me is that this novel is based on a true story. In the beginning, the author talks about how he'd heard about Erica's and Ted's story actually happening and how he'd decided to turn it inot a novel, which is crazy - the idea for LoveSick is just so unlikely, something that only happens in books and movies. (Actually, I didn't find that out only once I read the book, mfay2 had already mentioned that in her review, but I'd forgotten and still think it's an interesting fact.)

What makes this book so different is the super-descriptive writing. Everything is described down to the smallest detail, especially Erica's bulimia. The reader gets to know every step of what she does in meticulous detail - choosing a store to buy the food, choosing what food to buy, buying the food, calculating the calories, organizing the food, choosing a toilet, cleaning that toilet, setting a timer, and so on. I know, this sounds so weird, but it's actually really interesting - that's a way of looking at bulimia I'd never thought about before. For some reason, this style works - it's blunt and crude but somehow fascinating. Even the back of the cover is that blunt. On the back of the book there's a picture of - I'm not even kidding - a toilet. I know, it's weird and disgusting... but for some reason, I love it.

I also loved that this book takes place in college. Why are there so few books about college students? As a high school senior, reading about college life would be really interesting to me, and I'm sure I'm not the only one. So I was really happy to see this book deals with college life.

Another thing that makes this book unique are the e-mails and chatroom discussions in between the different passages. At first, I didn't get the point of those e-mails, and found them kind of boring, but later on, I loved them. I especially liked reading the sessions Erica has with her therapist. The two play chess online for Erica's sessions and talk about, well, everything. There's just something about those conversations - they're so real, and I just loved them.

While I really liked some aspects of LoveSick, there are things I disliked, too. The plot is only okay, in my opinion - it's very predictable, and only at the end did it get really exciting. I found the characters to be somewhat underdeveloped - for the most part, Ted is defined by being alcoholic and Erica by being bulimic, and we don't know that much more about them. Despite reading from both of their perspectives, I didn't feel like I knew them all that well. The fact that they're defined by alcoholism/bulimia and don't have many other characteristics made it hard for me to relate or connect to either one of the characters. And the secondary characters... well, there are no real secondary characters, except for Erica's father and Charles, the ones who 'hire' Ted. I would have liked to know a little more about some of the other college students, and I found it somewhat unrealistic how Ted and Erica almost only spent time with one another and didn't get to know many other people. That being said, I did love Ted and Erica's relationship - the way they talk to and treat each other made me smile.

Despite those negative aspects, I do recommend LoveSick if you're in the mood for something different and unique. While I don't think the descriptive and blunt style will work for everyone, it definitely worked for me!


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