BOOK REPORT for Towering by Alex Flinn

Cover Story: Fancy Dress Returns

BFF Charm: A World of No

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Swoonworthy Scale: 0? I guess?

Talky Talk: Insufferable

Bonus Factor: Drug Rings

Anti-Bonus Factor: Literally Everything About This Book

Relationship Status: It’s Not Me; It’s You

Towering

Cover Story: Fancy Dress Returns

Oh, hey, Fancy Dress. I saw you everywhere I looked in 2012, but this is the first time I have seen your face in 2013. I was hoping that the New Year would bring about more book cover options, but I was clearly a sweet summer child. Fancy Dress will never leave the YA community, because publishers are ADDICTED to Fancy Dress.

Which I don’t really get. I guess it is supposed to be aspirational, as Nina Garcia would say. Except, I never actually want to get dressed up when I see these covers. It usually creates the opposite feeling in me: a deep desire to get dressed in pajamas.

Of course, there’s also the question as to why the main character is wearing a fancy dress at all. Rachel (the girl so lovingly illustrated on the cover) has been locked in a tower for nine years. It’s not like she’s attending the Netherfield ball, you know? 

The Deal:

Look, y’all, I’m just going to be flat out honest with you: This book was terrible. TERRIBLE. I had to force myself to finish reading it, and I had to bribe myself with French 75s just to get through the pages. So, in a way, I may have been too drunk to appreciate this book. But I think, in a real way, I was not drunk enough to appreciate this book.

Wyatt has just moved to upstate New York in the hopes of escaping the trauma of the death of his best friend, Tyler. His mother has worked it out so that he’ll stay with Ms. Greenwood, the mother of his mom’s high school best friend. Ms. Greenwood’s daughter, Danielle, disappeared 17 years ago, and no one seems to know what happened to her. Did she die? Did she run away? And does her diary hold any clues to her fate?

Rachel has lived in a tower for most of her life, visited only by Mama, who is not her real mother, but is the only person Rachel knows. Rachel dreams of a life outside of the tower walls, but will she ever find it?

The answer to the questions I have posed is “yes.” I am telling you this now, so that you don’t have to read the book.

BFF Charm: A World of No

BFF Nay 3

I cannot deal with ANY of the people in this book, y’all. Possibly contrary to popular belief, I do not enjoy hating people, but my goodness, do I hate these people.

Let’s start with Wyatt, whose big shame is that he knew his best friend, Tyler, was trapped in an abusive home and did nothing to rectify the situation. Wyatt carries enormous guilt for not going to the authorities and telling them about Tyler’s home life before Tyler’s stepdad shot him and his sister to death, and in almost any other novel, I would be all over this scenario. I would feel for Wyatt, you know?  But here, I just wanted him to shut the hell up about his pain. Maybe it was because I never met Tyler as a character, never knew his hopes and dreams, that I didn’t care about Wyatt’s traumatic past, but I’m not sure that’s why I disliked him so much. I think the real reason I disliked him so much is because he hid from his pain—changing towns and going to online school, all in an effort not to feel “judged” for his behavior. As someone who has been indirectly involved in the deaths of others, I feel confident in saying that it’s not okay to hide from your guilt. Be punished, and learn from it. Don’t just run away.

And then there’s Rachel, who I like even less than Wyatt, if that is humanly possible. Rachel attempts to be a heroine—and for that I will give her credit—but spends 80% of her time locked in a tower, dreaming of a man who will save her. GROSS. Also, because she has no access to modern life, she reads and internalizes books like Wuthering Heights, which is THE WORST BOOK ANY PERSON COULD EVER INTERNALIZE. I’m sorry, but I don’t need a world of Cathys, wandering the moors, all crazy-like, looking for their lost loves. This is why medical research invented SSRIs, y’all.

Swoonworthy Scale:  0? I guess?

I don’t really know how to rate the swoon in this book. Do Rachel and Wyatt meet? Yes. Do they kiss? Yes, often. Do I feel anything at all for their relationship? Not in the slightest. 

Wyatt and Rachel’s relationship just never felt real or right to me. For one, I was convinced, all through reading the novel, that they were actually half-brother and -sister, something that tends to kill the swoony feelings, unless your name is V.C. Andrews. 

Also, I really can’t get behind the Bonnie Tyler–type relationship that Wyatt and Rachel have. You know what I mean: She needs a hero! A hero till the end of the night! He’s gotta be fast and he’s gotta be strong and he’s gotta climb a rope made of HAIR and not think that’s weird!

Talky Talk: Insufferable

Oh, man, was this book bad. It was so, so very bad, y’all. Words do not currently exist to accurately describe how terrible this book was. I’ve read a few Alex Flinn books before—Beastly, for example—and while I felt they were silly, they were still readable. This book cannot even claim that dubious prize.

This book was not unlike Rumplestiltskin’s daughter, spinning hair into gold, except that instead of gold, the reader was only granted with more hair—tangles and weaves and knots and endless combing through, trying to ascertain the plot.

Bonus Factor: Drug Rings

Drugs

What can I say? One of the incredibly ridiculous parts of this book is that there is a very complex drug ring happening in upstate New York. But instead of meth (which I would only assume would be the drug of choice in such a small, rural area), the drug sweeping the streets is called Rhapsody. And it looks like lettuce leaves. And a task force of blue-faced Oompa Loompas harvest it. I promise you that all of these words are true and none are made up out of some desire to make this book more interesting than it is. All of this happens.

But, yeah, who doesn’t love a good drug ring, right? My cousin Sonny was busted for being part of a drug ring in Mississippi and that gossip fed my family for weeks.

Anti-Bonus Factor: Literally Everything About This Book

Everything

Y’all. Y’ALL. I cannot even deal with this novel. I mean, I’m a pretty easy-going girl; I’ll find value in almost anything. But this book made me want to commit acts of violence against random strangers, family members and even my pets. Even as I type this, my puppy is curled up next to me, sleeping, and I want to wake him and scream, “WHY DOES THIS BOOK EXIST??” Because it is that bad.

I can’t even enumerate all of the problems with this book, but here are a few: reliance on Wuthering Heights for plot points, random telepathy, gross hair that no one else seems to realize is gross, Disney Princess bullshit and plot contrivance to satisfy some sort of paint-by-numbers scheme for storytelling.

Casting Call

I feel like I should cast people I really dislike, if only to somehow punish them by attempting to act out the painful dialogue in this book.  Let’s see; who do I hate?

Josh Hutcherson

Josh Hutcherson as Wyatt

Katherine Heigl

Young Katherine Heigl as Rachel

Relationship Status:  It’s Not Me; It’s You

I am ever so sorry to tell you this, Book, but you are terrible. Shh, I know, I know; this is hurtful. No one wants to hear that they aren’t wonderful. But I feel I should be honest with you, Book, and tell you how bad you are.

So, you know, I hope you find happiness, Book. I really do. But it won’t be with me. Because it’s not me, Book. It’s you.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received this free review copy from Harper Teen. Towering is available in stores on May 14, 2013.