Title: The Loose Ends List
Author: Carrie Firestone
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Published: 16th June 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
My Rating: ★★☆☆☆
I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
Synopsis from Goodreads
Seventeen-year-old Maddie O’Neill Levine lives a charmed life, and is primed to spend the perfect pre-college summer with her best friends and young-at-heart socialite grandmother (also Maddie’s closest confidante), tying up high school loose ends. Maddie’s plans change the instant Gram announces that she is terminally ill and has booked the family on a secret “death with dignity” cruise ship so that she can leave the world in her own unconventional way – and give the O’Neill clan an unforgettable summer of dreams-come-true in the process.
Soon, Maddie is on the trip of a lifetime with her over-the-top family. As they travel the globe, Maddie bonds with other passengers and falls for Enzo, who is processing his own grief. But despite the laughter, headiness of first love, and excitement of glamorous destinations, Maddie knows she is on the brink of losing Gram. She struggles to find the strength to say good-bye in a whirlwind summer shaped by love, loss, and the power of forgiveness.
“I touched death with my fingertips.”
General Thoughts (non-spoiler)
When I first started reading this book, I thought it was great. The family this story revolves around is funny and it had a very distinctive teenage feel which I like in a book from time to time. However, the plot soon fell flat and got extremely boring. And then *sighs*, we got a huge dose of insta-love and cringe and I nearly gave up on the book. I know that some other people have really enjoyed this story, but it just wasn’t for me unfortunately
Review (contains spoilers)
Ugh, I hate writing non-positive reviews, but here I go.
I had heard a lot of good things about this book before I started reading it so I was genuinely excited to pick this one up. And yeah, you know what, it was pretty good until about chapter nine, but I’ll get into that later.
At the start of this book we meet our protagonist, Maddie, who comes from a wealthy family, is a bit stuck up and is the Queen Bee in her friendship circle. She actually has a name for her posse of girl friends – “The E’s” (these girls reminded me so much of the Ashley’s from Recess). This type of character initially excited me to read about because usually we don’t read from the popular, basic girl’s perspective in YA. However, some things she said and did throughout the book irked me and I kind of really hated the way the author threw around the term IBS. Since I actually have IBS, I didn’t appreciate the vulgar humour and way this was referenced through the book. Plus, Maddie would only bring it up at very random times, whereas people who suffer form IBS know that it actually affects everything you do.
Moving on, we also meet Maddie’s rather large, rather obnoxious and rather extravagant family. This family was definitely the highlight of the story for me because each and every one of them plays a specific role well, and is funny whilst doing it. I can’t even count the number of times I laughed at things certain family members said, especially Astrid, and it warmed my heart to see how close they all were and how much they relied on each other. Don’t get me wrong, at some points it was weird how close they were and some of the things they actually spoke about but I enjoyed their interactions overall.
Although this story revolves around Maddie, a lot of the plot is to do with her grandmother, Astrid. In all of my life I have never read a story where an elderly woman acts so much like a a teenager, but there’s always a first for everything. Even though Astrid was one crazy woman, I appreciated her character a lot as she brought much needed comedic relief to certain gloomy situations and lovely advice for her children and grandchildren. Because this book is very character driven, the story really needed someone like Astrid.
As far as the plot and the premise of the story goes… meh. I loved the sound of this book when I first heard of it and thought the idea behind the story seemed incredibly interesting and fun. However, the actual plot didn’t have much to it. We follow Maddie and the rest of her family trying to complete Astrid’s “Loose Ends” (which are all incredibly random) before she dies. I didn’t feel like any of the excursions these characters went on were written in enough detail or given the right amount of nourishment to make them great. By the time I got to 40% of this book on my Kindle I was so bloody bored that I was tempted to not finish the book. I feel like this book could have been condensed and reduced by half, and I would probably have enjoyed it better.
I guess I should probably talk about the main romance in this book now… sigh.
I hated it.
When it comes to romance in literature I’m usually very easily pleased – have the guy give the girl some nice compliments, work for her affection etc etc. ALL OF THE USUAL CUTE STUFF. The relationship between Enzo and Maddie in this book reminded me a lot of the relationship between Guy and Juno in Love and Other Man-Made Disasters, and if you read my review of that then you probably know that I have a bit of ranting to do right about now.
So… want to know what happened in chapter nine? Well, Maddie met Enzo and fell instantly in love -_-. On top of the whole insta-love situation, we don’t get much character development of Enzo and because everything is so rushed in this book, we don’t even get to spend enough time with him to even know his character. The author didn’t actually write many of their conversations in full, just referred to the fact that they spent some time together, so I didn’t find this relationship – or Enzo – swoon worthy at all. By no means am I saying that all relationships in YA need to be cute and fluffy, but this one wasn’t anything. I feel like the only reason Maddie and Enzo dated was because the author felt like she needed to include a love interest for her protagonist (and for her to lose her virginity). Along with the annoying insta-love and not very interesting lover, all this relationship had going for itself was sex. At one point Maddie actually mentions that they’ve had sex eleven times in two days and that she’s worried about the fact that she might not get “Enzo sex” tonight. It was all very cringe and not very romantic at all. Basically, the best scenes in this book were ones in which Enzo was emitted, and that’s a shame because if this storyline was written better then they could have been a lovely couple. I do understand that this relationship wasn’t the sole focus of the plot, but it definitely have been developed better.
At then end of the story, the inevitable happens – Astrid dies, along with all the other patients on the Wishwell “death with dignity” cruise. I actually didn’t get emotional at all during this section because the book had bored me so much that I was just trying to finish it quickly. After Astrid dies Maddie is mildly emotional, I really do mean that. Then, a week later, Enzo leaves the ship to go study abroad in Egypt and, I swear to God, Maddie becomes depressed. She locks herself in her room, won’t eat or drink anything, just hysterically cries herself to sleep all the time. This pretty much put the final nail in this book’s coffin for me. Maddie tries to say that the reason she’s so upset is because of her gram passing away, but she was fine and going out for dates with Enzo for the week after, before he left, so I totally don’t believe it.
In conclusion, would I suggest this book to you lovely people? No. Normally with books I don’t like there is usually a light at the end of the tunnel because the main character has learned something monumental or has been forever changed by the events we witnessed. Unfortunately, I don’t feel like this happened with this book. At the end we see Maddie go back to her usual life, attending a party with The E’s or something. This is a definite no go book for me and the only reason I’m giving it 2/5 stars is because of how weird and wonderful Maddie’s family is.
“Maybe heaven is another dimension, and our dreams are a portal.”
- Characters: ★★★☆☆
- Plot: ★★★☆☆
- Ending: ★★☆☆☆
- Originality: ★★★☆☆
- Cover: ★★★★★
I know I didn’t like this book, but it would still like to read it then please don’t let this review deter you! This book comes out next week on the 16th June. Tell me what you think of it if you end up reading it!