Friday, June 14, 2013

From Ashes

From Ashes
by Molly McAdams
Published by William Morrow
416 pages
Genre: young adult lit
Thanks to edelweiss for the preview
3.5 / 5

Sometimes when I read a book, I think the characters are real. Go ahead and judge. You know you do the same darn thing.

When reading this book, I found myself actually saying out loud, "You have GOT to be kidding me!" Not because of poor writing or a dull story or anything like that. More because we have two people who choose to completely ignore the obvious.

And after a while, that annoyed the hell out of me.

Cassi is one of those girls who has Issues, largely of the trust variety. Her father died when she was young, and since then she has had to rely on herself, despite having a mother who is very much alive. Cassi doesn't just distrust men; she distrusts everyone. She expects them to disappoint her. Well, everyone except her BFF Tyler, whose devotion knows no bounds.

But of course it doesn't, because Tyler so clearly wants to get in her pants. Like, DUH, Cassi.

Cassi, however, doesn't see Tyler's extremely apparent romantic interest in her. So when they move to Texas and she meets his hot cousin Gage, Cassi doesn't let a little thing like Tyler's feelings for her get in the way of some Gage action. No, she has other blockages for that. The whole trust thing causes some problems, but Gage is nothing if not doggedly determined.

The path to true love is never easy, certainly not for these two. A lot of things go awry.

A lot.

Some of them appear to stem from the same source, not that Cassi and Gage can see that. They are too wrapped up in their lust haze to pay attention to what's going on around them. More than once - more than a dozen times - I caught myself thinking, "Oh, girl, no."

The difficulty in writing a love triangle is that someone has to be the bad guy. There has to be a clear reason why a person chooses one individual over another. Writers get in trouble here when they go too far with negative characteristics, especially when the character has been presented as a pretty upstanding, loyal, decent guy. To make that person a veritable sociopath is a dangerous decision.

Such is the case here. Cassi will have to choose between Gage and Tyler, and one of them becomes extremely more palatable than the other, almost to a ridiculous degree. We know who Molly McAdams thinks her heroine ought to be with, that's for certain.

As for Cassi, her Dickensian life story is shockingly awful, and we can kind of see why she wants to believe so strongly in Tyler and then in Gage. She needs to connect with someone, needs that intimacy that two people share. Not just physical or sexual, but intellectual, emotional, and spiritual. Cassi hasn't had that since her father died, and her reluctance to pursue it and trust it is understandable.

As young adult lit goes, this is decent fare. Tyler and Gage are the stuff of teenage girl dreams, and you can hear the gnashing of jealous teeth over Cassi being in the middle of those two hot dudes. Cassi herself is a bit pathetic, a strong girl who survived an awful childhood but yet weak when it comes to the biggest trust of all: that with herself.

I can't say I loved this book, but I can say I enjoyed it.

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