Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Book Review: On the Rocks

By Melissa Amster

Remember on Sex and the City when Berger broke up with Carrie through a post-it note? At the time, we thought it was the tackiest way to end things. However, Carrie could be as private or public about it as she wanted. Eventually, the post-it note method moved to breakups via text message. Nowadays, people are lazy and heartless enough to do it through social media, where almost anyone can see, much to the consternation and embarrassment of the person being dumped. This is how Erin Duffy's sophomore novel, On the Rocks, begins.

Six months ago, Abby's life fell apart for all the world to see. Her longtime boyfriend-turned-fiancé, Ben, unceremoniously dumped her-on Facebook-while she was trying on dresses for the big day.

When the usual remedies-pints of Ben & Jerry's, sweatpants, and a comfy couch-fail to work their magic, her best friend, Grace, devises a plan to get Abby back on her game. She and Abby are going to spend the summer in Newport, in a quaint cottage by the sea, enjoying cool breezes, cocktails, and a crowd of gorgeous men.

But no matter how far away they go, Abby and Grace discover that in the era of social media-when everyone is preserving every little detail of their lives online-there is no real escape. Dating has never been easy. But now that the rules are more blurred than ever, how will they find true love? And even if they do, can romance stand a chance when a girl's every word and move can go viral with a single click? (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

After falling in love with Bond Girl back in 2012, I was excited to get my hands on Erin Duffy's latest novel. She has a down-to-earth approach with her characters, and is not afraid to write them as flawed and vulnerable as possible. It made Abby very sympathetic, as I couldn't help but groan when her fiancĂ© decided to end their relationship for all their social circles to see. There were some really strong intense moments, usually brought on by Abby's mom or sister (or both at once). Her mom was such a piece of work, but I loved reading the parts about her. I wanted to see what ridiculous remark would come out of her mouth next. Aside from her, there's a great supporting cast of interesting characters: Grace, Abby's best friend who is having her own complex dating issue; Bobby, the man-boy who lives in Newport with his parents; and Wolf, the gentle German giant.

While this story is well-told and keeps at a good pace, it loses originality points. Even though Bond Girl fits in the genre of crazy career novels, it manages to stand out. This time around, On the Rocks tends to blend in with every other chick lit novel about a girl escaping town after a bad breakup to figure herself out and possibly find romance. The only difference here is that most of the guys she meets are caricatures. It was hard to take them seriously (but I do enjoy a "horrible date" story every now and then and this book had some classics). I was also expecting social media to have more of an impact throughout the story, based on what was said in the synopsis. There are times when Abby and Bobby argue over how much social media affects dating, but it seemed to fall into the background otherwise. Finally, I'm not a fan of smoking and am not sure why that was even necessary for any of the characters.

Overall, On the Rocks will make for a nice beach read this summer. It's light and entertaining and the setting is perfect and easy to visualize. Whether you're in a serious relationship or still looking for "The One," you'll find something you can relate to by the end.

As tradition has it, I have created my dream cast for a possible chick flick:
Abby: Tracey Wigfield (She had a small part on The Mindy Project recently and I visualized her as Abby when I started reading this book.)
Grace: Isla Fisher
Bobby: Justin Long
Katie (Abby's sister): Dreama Walker
Abby's mom: Kelly Preston

Thanks to HarperCollins for the book in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

Connie said...

I enjoyed this book but it just didn't have a heroine with as much "kick butt" as the heroine in 'Bond Girl." However, I feel the author writes well and I look forward to reading future novels from her.