Last night, I finished the first book in a new series by an author I love; Anna Godbersen. (Author of The Luxe)
The book I read was Bright Young Things
The year is 1929. New York is ruled by the Bright Young Things: Flappers and socialites seeking thrills and chasing dreams in the anything-goes era of the Roaring Twenties.
Letty Larkspur and Cordelia Grey escaped their small Midwestern town for New York's glittering metropolis. All Letty wants is to see her name in lights, but she quickly discovers Manhattan is filled with pretty girls who will do anything to be a star....
Cordelia is searching for the father she's never known, a man as infamous for his wild parties as he is for his shadowy schemes. Overnight, she enters a world more thrilling and glamorous than she ever could have imagined — and more dangerous. It's a life anyone would kill for...and someone will.
The only person Cordelia can trust is Astrid Donal, a flapper who seems to have it all: money, looks, and the love of Cordelia's brother, Charlie. But Astrid's perfect veneer hides a score of family secrets.
As you know, I enjoyed The Luxe series so much, that it joined the ranks of my favorites. As you can guess, I was anxious to read Godbersen's new series.
Early on, however, I was generally disappointed. The characters and plot were no where near as interesting as The Luxe. I felt like Godbersen was just choosing over used characters and plot lines. Characters, in their own special way, often resembled Mary Sues. Which is disappointing from a published author, much less one that has previously been on my favorite author list. As you may guess, although I loved The Luxe and it's series, Godbersen can no longer be allowed on my list, just for the underperformance here.
This may come as a surprising review. I've heard only great things about this book, which made me anxiously want to read it even more. Alas, I was not impressed. Maybe I'm just a critic, but I would not recommend this series over The Luxe.
But maybe I'm comparing too much. As a book alone, it was not that bad. It just didn't sit with me well. A lot more happened then imaginable in the two week time the book is set in.
I'll talk about Astrid now.
I was disappointed that she first showed up in the second half of the book. I would have liked to have seen more of her. Then there was the whole thing with her and Charlie at the end of the book. *SPOILERS* I didn't understand that after she caught Charlie with another woman, that when he proposed to her she said yes. I mean, they loved each other in all, but my trust would have been destroyed. I guess people made mistakes that were easier to clean up back then. Or, in Godbersen's fictional world at least.
Another thing about Astrid that I didn't understand, was her mother's reputation. I didn't understand what that had to do with the book, especially her mother's affair, and then "pre" divorce. (Assuming continuation of that in the 2nd book.) Within all of that, Astrid's relationship with her step-sister Billie was confusing too. That, and what the heck Billie had to do with the story. She seemed like an unneeded character. The only relationship involving Astrid that I understood was the one she shared with Cordelia. That made perfect sense; they were young girls, matched up in a case of luck, that became fast friends.
Now for Charlie.
First off, I didn't really understand him. Why would he *SPOILERS* cheat on Astrid? Why did he hate Cordelia at first. And his personality was so back and fourth. It felt like he was bipolar. He was not a very impressive male character.
Cordelia's personality was fairly pleasing. Although she took in all of her sudden wealth, was grateful for it, and acknowledged the time when she didn't have it. But her reason to come to New York? A little bit overused, if you ask me. How many plot's have featured a long lost father/mother/sister/brother, ect. I was disappointed that Godbersen couldn't come up with something more original. *SPOILERS* As for Cordelia's relationship with Thom, that was entirely unrealistic. She knew him for less than 2 weeks. They moved at a ridiculously, fictional pace to anything remotely close to real life relationships. I was so surprised by this, because in (ok, I'm comparing now) Godbersen's previous works, all her relational development has been reasonable. I can see, however, the purpose of her father's death; all for the assumption that it was Thom, leading to a falling out. I didn't understand her side of the friendship with Letty either. Cordelia is stronger, and smarter than Letty. I didn't get why she was friends with her. (Now why Letty was friends with Cordelia, is easy to see...) Lastly, I didn't understand Cordelia's last minute moment with the famous pilot that was crammed into the ending pages of the book. I can only assume that it was set up for the sequel, and if not, it was just bad planning.
So lastly, Letty
Although Cordelia's overused dream (to find her father), I thought that Letty's dream was even more ridiculously over used. Moving to New York to make it in Show Biz? Really Godbersen?
In general, I just didn't like Letty at all. She was such a Mary Sue. It was crazy. Her relationship with Grady was so understandable, however, as well as her desire for Amory's approval. I didn't like her Cigarette Girl friends, but I didn't like the way Letty treated them even more. *SPOILERS* Borrow their clothes, let your dog eat their stuff, drink their liquor, and stay for barely anything???? Considering these girls got you a job, and gave you advice, and loaned you clothes. Ugghhhhh. I can't stand that! Lastly, I didn't like how she just picked right up with Cordelia, who basically left her with nothing. (Although I was kind of on Cordelia's side.)
Anyway, I just didn't really like this. Read
P.S. If you're wondering what a "Mary Sue" is, wikitionary says that A Mary Sue is "A fictional character, usually female and especially in fanfic, whose implausible talents and likeableness weaken the story." That's why I was surprised that a published author would use such a disgraceful character.