Recent Posts

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Release & Review - Wanderlost by Jen Malone

Title: Wanderlost
Author: Jen Malone
Publication Date: May 31st, 2016
Publisher: HarperTeen
Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.

Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.

Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.

But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.

Buy Links: Amazon
3 “Sam, the savior” STARS

This was one of my most anticipated reads this year, but unfortunately it fell short because I disliked the protagonist. A lot.

Wanderlost had this really cute premise that hinted at a swoony romance with European settings and promised to be a fun and light summer read. Well, it delivered on the cute romance and the stunning European settings, but it didn’t deliver on likability.

I had major problems with Aubrey, the MC, from chapter one. Look, she *does* have a strong and fun voice, but she’s simply not likable.

The story starts with Aubrey already losing major points for letting her older sister (a college graduate) take responsibility for something Aubrey did and not even acknowledging it properly. See, Aubrey threw a party at their place and when the cops showed up, she hid from them and let Elizabeth deal with the cops. One of them was a real jerk who held a grudge from their time in high school, and decided to take Elizabeth into custody even though she hadn’t done anything to deserve that. At that moment, I understood why Aubrey didn’t try to defend her sister because stepping out of the shadows then would’ve gotten Elizabeth in more trouble. So, fine, I decided to swallow that and just deal.

What I did expect, though, was for Aubrey to feel a lot worse about the consequences. Elizabeth could no longer leave the country until the hearing, which meant she wouldn’t be able to fulfill her obligations as the leader of a senior citizens European bus tour. That also meant she was in serious trouble because she needed that summer job to be a success or she risked losing her real job and jeopardizing her career.

Look, I’ll just say it: I liked Elizabeth a lot more than her little sister because the girl knew what she wanted and went for it. Aubrey, on the other hand, was too lazy to even try to figure out what she wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I know how hard life-altering choices can be when you’re just a teen – been there, done that – but Aubrey didn’t even look like she was trying. *That* bothered me.

It also bothered me that Elizabeth practically had to beg Aubrey to go to Europe and pretend to be her. If Aubrey’s reservations had been related to the fact that she was probably breaking the law by impersonating her sister or something like that, then yeah, I would’ve been all “yep, girl, this plan sounds like trouble and it’ll probably blow up in your face”. But Aubrey wasn’t worried about that. She was just too comfortable living at home under her overprotective mother’s wings and she didn’t want to take any risks. The girl was clueless. Come on, you don’t know what currency European countries use? Really? Really?! *major eye roll*

Then everything that happened after Elizabeth convinced her to help her (a help that was only needed because Aubrey screwed up and got her sister in trouble in the first place) just showed me how immature Aubrey was. I get that starting with an immature character leaves room for character growth, but that doesn’t mean you can make her unlikable and get a free pass. And even if it did, it means the character has to grow throughout the story and not only when the love interest comes into picture.

That’s what I felt happened. Aubrey resented her sister for telling a friend that she didn’t try to do anything on her own and depended on her mother for everything. How did she prove her sister wrong? By traveling to Europe to lead a tour group without reading or memorizing the material (a tour guide) her sister had put together for her. What was she planning on doing, then? Reading it out loud while the tour was happening? I mean… that seriously pissed me off.

Then when everything went to space and Aubrey was left to deal with things on her own, she didn’t make reasonable choices. She let pride get in the way and made silly decisions that only jeopardized the plan and her sister’s career. I mean, sure you don’t have to care about your sister’s future, but if you got on a plane and traveled all those thousand miles, wouldn’t you at least try to do your best? Not if you’re Aubrey. She ignored her responsibilities and took a shortcut by convincing people to do her job, because how hard was it to find a computer in one of the hotels she stayed and do a little research??? She didn’t put any effort into making things better until she was trying to impress a boy. Only when Sam (the person responsible for the three stars up there) came into picture did Aubrey figure out she should be doing her job. Only then she had the brilliant idea to take matters into her hands, go on Google and, you know, research! Hello, internet! Hello, Google!

It rubbed me the wrong way that Aubrey’s “good” actions were intimately related to Sam and what he’d think of her.

Having said that, Sam was ADORABLE so I kind of get the need to impress him.

Sam saved this story for me. From the first call, the first scene, the first joke he had me. He had a great sense of humor, a strong and extremely likable personality and so much confidence it was impossible not to be absorbed by him whenever he was around. I loved how he made me laugh and swoon. I loved how he cared for his grandmother. How passionate about seeing new things and experiencing new adventures he was. He was such a great character and love interest. As you can see, I’m a little in love with Sam, too.

Sam made Aubrey a nicer person—and while I wished Aubrey had done that herself (or had done that because of her sister), I’m still thankful Sam managed to make me like the protagonist a little in the end. Not that she stopped acting like the immature girl she was completely. She still lied when she didn’t have to (did she really prefer to eat McDonalds instead of trying anything, I mean, anything from the local cuisine? Really?), which was only made worse by the fact that she knew she was already lying about bigger and more important things, and Sam had trust issues. But there were times when they were together that Aubrey seemed like a nice girl. I’ll take those moments and roll with it, because the way things ended convinced me she might’ve changed a bit. Not a lot, but maybe enough.

I also really enjoyed the tour group. They had distinctive personalities and interesting perspectives. I loved the couple who couldn’t keep their hands off each other after being married for decades. I loved the two ladies traveling together. I loved Mr. Fenton. I didn’t love how Aubrey left Mr. Fenton thinking her sister had done something wrong and needed to be forgiven. Why would she have to forgive her sister when Aubrey’s party had gotten her sister in major trouble with the police, and Aubrey had ended up traveling to Europe with all expenses paid? But I still think Mr. Fenton was a great character.

Last, but not least, I enjoyed the romance. It was cute, sweet and swoony, thanks to Sam. It also helped that they were visiting some of the most stunning and romantic places on Earth, so yeah… The romance was a plus.

Overall, this had enough elements to make it an interesting, fun and cute summer read. I only wished Aubrey had been a more likable character, something that would’ve been easily fixed if she hadn’t acted so immature for so long.

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

No comments: