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YA, Contemporary/Graphic Novel, 331 pages, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Series: stand-alone
- Pub date: December 5th 2011
- Disclosure: Received an ARC from the Red Balloon Bookstore. Thanks!
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.The Long...
Garden State meets Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist in this funny and poignant illustrated novel about opposites who fall in love.
On paper, Winter Town is everything I've been looking for in a YA read. It's quirky. It's got a melancholy sense of humor that puts me in mind of John Green. It's illustrated. Sweet holy heaven, it's ILLUSTRATED, guys. What more could I ask for? Unfortunately, a lot more, since unfortunately Winter Town was one of my most disappointing reads of 2011. The problem? I'm not even sure why.
Actually, no. I know why. This is why. While I know I've gone on the record as saying I don't mind Manic Pixie Dream Girls (and Boys) when deployed correctly, this book just goes to show how much I can hate them when they're done incorrectly. Evan is an interesting, if somewhat bland, narrator. His art (actually drawn by Stephen Emond) is great, and easily my favorite part of the book, and he's got just enough personality quirks to make him an acceptable addition to the YA canon. Lucy, on the other hand? I'm going to have to start a new paragraph.
Authors, I have said this three times in the past week and I really, sincerely do not want to say it again, so listen up: dyed hair and piercings no longer make a character a "bad girl." Issues with her parents do not make her a "bad girl." Kissing more than a couple of boys do not make her a "bad girl." Being skinny does not make her a bad girl. Eating frozen yogurt instead of ice cream does not make her a bad girl. Eating McDonald's instead of salads does not make her a bad girl. Drugs do not make her a bad girl. In fact, you know what? There's no such thing as a bad girl, so please stop acting like there is. Lucy fits every trope of the edgy Manic Pixie Dream Girl on the books, and I couldn't even stand it.
The reason authors like John Green can get away with Manic Pixie Dream Girls is because, on a fundamental level, they understand how girls work and what makes them tick. Authors who can successfully write an engaging and fleshed out Manic Pixie, I salute you. Unfortunately, though Emond's writing shines in other areas, the fact that he couldn't make his girl protagonist even one iota as interesting as the guy infuriated me, and colored my impressions of the rest of the book.
It's not really a bad book. In fact, the illustrations make it a pretty good book. But once I realized that Lucy was going to be just as two-dimensional as I had feared, I just couldn't enjoy the rest of the book as much as I should have.
...and the Short:
A pretty good book with fantastic illustrations that's ruined by a completely flat and gratuitous Manic Pixie Dream Girl. Maybe I'll try this author's other work and hope it doesn't set me off, but again, maybe not.
The Final Word: Meh.
Psssst! This is the final review in today's review-a-thon. Stay tuned for tonight's giveaway, which will include a chance to win a copy of Winter Town! Check back soon!