Monday, August 10, 2015

Review: Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines

Title: Until Friday Night
Author: Abbi Glines
Series: The Field Party, Book One
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published Date: 25 August 2015
Buy: Amazon | The Book Depository | Dymocks Australia

I received this ARC as part of a giveaway.

To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…
(summary from Goodreads)

Until Friday Night had the potential to be a beautiful and heart-wrenching story, but issues with characters and writing held me back from loving this book. 

Until Friday Night is an easy read and for the most part it's engaging. There's some emotion to this story that grabs you because it's heartbreaking and hopeful, and connecting with that feeling made me read this book in one sitting. Both West and Maggie's stories are tragic, and their loss is definitely tear inducing. Have a tissue ready! A few of the relationships are touching too, most especially those between the adults and teenagers. West's support of his mother is lovely, though Glines left a lot of her story unfinished. His rapport with his father is beautiful, as is Coralee and Boone's being there for Maggie. It was also nice to see how Brady and his fellow teammates stepped up to support West when his father passed. Because I have to say, it's about the only time I actually liked any of the teen characters in this book. And so starts my issues with Until Friday Night.

Glines's characters are mostly self-centered brats. I could barely stand Brady and his treatment of Maggie. I think Glines meant for his attitude to come across as protective, but it missed by a wide, wide, WIDE margin. Brady's dictating that his friends steer clear of Maggie, that Maggie stay away from him and his friends, that she not even hang out with Charlie and his friends, was seriously annoying. That Maggie just kept accepting it as overprotective? Disappointing. There was no redeeming Brady for me because there was never an acknowledgement that he was acting like a douche. Likewise, West's attitude was a problem for me. I could almost, almost (okay, not really) forgive his disgusting treatment of girls because it helps him to feel something outside the despair of his father's dying (seriously?!), but his possessiveness and jealousy is ridiculous and terrible. I did like that Maggie called him out on it, and in a way Glines used this to acknowledge the parallels between West and Maggie's father. There was certainly an effort here to say something about domestic abuse and unhealthy relationships. But here's the thing - after running to 'protect' Maggie from a bitchy ex-girlfriend, demanding she leave class, and then apologising by professing his love, all of West's actions were forgiven. And this is totally different from Maggie's fathers routine of abuse and then making up for I'm sorry to say the love story missed the mark for me here. It started out okay, Maggie and West's supporting each other through their common suffering, but it quickly became too cloying. Glines's writing was at times too over sentimental, and it did the romance no favours. I also want to say that I'm disappointed by Glines's female characters. Despite the book alternating between Maggie and West's point of views, the story was very much all about West. I get that West's tragedy is the present, but I would have liked more about Maggie. While it's understandable she doesn't want to talk about her mother's murder, it still felt like a cop-out. Maggie's apparent struggles and reasons for not talking, even her finally choosing to talk, didn't resonate. I mean, she talks to tell off the bitchy ex-girlfriend before she gets the courage to talk to her own family, for Pete's sake. And speaking of the bitchy ex-girlfriend, the rest of the female teens are just that - bitchy. At no time was there the possibility of Maggie befriending a female character. Every girl in this book was there to simply admire West and offer themselves up to be his sex toy and vocal punching bag. And okay, I'm going to stop this review there, because the more I write, the more I lose my good feelings about Until Friday Night. I swear, I do have them. A little.

Until Friday Night tries to be a heartfelt and thought-provoking novel about love and loss, and there's enough of that emotion to get you feeling it, but Glines's characters are frustratingly one dimensional.



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