Sunday, December 26, 2010

Review: Bright Young Things

Anna Godberson
Bright Young Things follows the story of three young girls living in New York City during 1929 -- the Jazz Age. The story opens with Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur - two small-town Ohio girls - catching a train to New York City. While Letty hopes to become an actress or singer, Cordelia hopes to find the father she never knew. Once in the city, the girls' paths diverge as Letty winds up working in a speakeasy and Cordelia manages to find her rich, bootlegging father. She also meets the third focus of the book, Astrid Donal, a young socialite in love with Cordelia's half-brother.

As excited as I was about this book, I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I loved Anna Godberson's previous Luxe series so much and because the two are so similar it's difficult to read Bright Young Things without comparing the two. The setting here is incredible, capturing the glamour, ritz, and precarious balance of the time. It's absolutely beautiful and throughout the story there's this feeling of this can't last, as if I was just waiting for other other shoe to drop because I knew the perfection of these character's lives would have to end sooner or later. And this, as it turns out, is sort of the problem with the book; everything seems too perfect and for much of the novel it remains that way. There's a lot of set-up and backstory here and while it gives the book a laid-back, glitzy feeling, it also means that the book eventually starts to drag.

Each of the characters is different and unique, from starry-eyed Letty to tough-as-nails Astrid. However, in spite of that I felt a lack of connection with them for the most part. For the most part I didn't feel myself emotionally invested in Astrid or Letty's stories and while I loved Cordelia I found it difficult to swallow a few of the decisions she made, especially after traveling so far to find her father (if you've read the book you may know what I'm thinking of here). The relationships in this book were also a bit less than what I was hoping for. Though each girl had a love interest throughout the story I found it difficult to really root for any of the pairings and the book's focus on them really slowed it down for me.

To call the voice of this novel flawless might be a stretch, but not much of one. Godberson has a true gift for writing passages that manage to be sad, beautiful, and hopeful at the same time and there are certain lines here that I thought were absolutely perfect. Overall, this is a glitzy, glamorous, and slow-moving novel that, as great as it is, really does feel like the first in a series, which is a something of a drawback. There's a lack of connection to the characters and relationships, however there's also a huge sense of possibility and what-will-happen-next here that really raises the book up.

*this review is part of the Teen {Book} Scene Tours

1 comment:

  1. I've had my eye on this one. Thanks for your review. Happy New Year.