Before we begin, I knew of the initial idea behind this book and watched the videos about the creative process. If I hadn't known, I would have put it down before page 100 thinking that it was just another bad PNR novel trying to jump into the bandwagon of Twilight and such. Because that is what it looks like to the unaware reader.
The story is about Andromeda Slate, shortened to Andi because she agrees with me on the fact that her parents were cruel enough to call her that. She is a sixteen year-old who experiences the typical first world problems of every self-centered teenage girl with self-steem issues, and the author brings the parody of the trope to a point that it becomes ridiculous. The most recent tragedy in her life includes having had to move to Portsmouth, Rhode Island, because her parents got a better job there, so she's stuck in a new school with Bree, a girl who is seen eating in every single scene where she appears (I kid you not) and her obviously friendzoned, childhood friend Vik, who also happens to be the ethnic representation of the novel (he's of Indian ascent).
But Andi's life makes a 180º turn when the undescribably beautiful but mysterious Riley Bay appears in her life. She doesn't instantly fall in love with him but she obsesses over him because she dreamed about him. And, yes, you guessed it, Riley is not quite human. And now it's Andi's mission to avoid the destruction of the world.
I was excited about this book. I looked forward to read this and my expectations where very, very high. I really wanted to like this book. I hoped for an Airplane! kind of thing, but it turned out to be what I kind of had expected Twilight to be when I read the back cover of Meyer's bestseller, minus annoying female protagonist. Which, in a way, is positive, I guess, but still I wanted more obvious references, even more exagerated tropes.
Speaking of, we need to talk about Andi. Self-centered, emo-ish girl? Check. Bad relationship with her parents because they forced her to move to the most boring place on Earth? Check. Describes herself as socially awkward? Check. Falls blindly in love at first sight with a stalker and is willing to give up her life for him, even if he's obviously no good for her? Bitch, please. Loves to read a piece of classic literature with star-crossed lovers as protagonists? Why, Phantom of the Opera, of course! With these ingredients, she becomes the perfect YA novel female lead, and the author manages to exagerate it so much that the author sees not only a rip-off of Bella Swan and co., but also a parody of these tropes. So positive points on that side.
Same goes for Riley. Thank Chtulhu that he doesn't sparkle and that his monstruosity is real and not an insult to all mythological creatures out there (here's looking at you, sparkling vampires). I enjoyed the character of Riley so much, especially because he won't stop speaking in perfect old English. Although Andromeda describes him as the most perfect man ever, it couldn't be more evident that he's the type of guy you don't want to have as a boyfriend if he had a sign with neon lights and the warning "DANGER!". He doesn't even try to hide it, as he spends most of his dialogue calling Andi all synonyms of "little" in the theesaurus. Well played, author.
But the real jewels of this book are the secondary characters: Bree, Uncle Neil, and Miss Epistola. Bree works most of the times as the channel for the audience's reactions, especially where it concerns getting romantically involved with Riley. Uncle Neil is a character that needs more screen time (chapter time?) or a book about only him and his adventures. I'd love to drop by his store and buy that diary of an orphan. Miss Epistola was a really interesting villain. It's a shame that neither she nor Uncle Neil get more character devolpment because we have to cut to Andi and Riley's romance.
The first part of the novel is a bit too slow for my taste, although at least the characters and their motivations (or lack thereof, in Andi's case) are introduced, and so is the "conflict". The second act is where the romance develops and where I almost gave up the book because I couldn't care less about New York City sightseeing and cultists. Finally, the third act was pretty action-packed and I thought that the whole scene at the theater was quite good. Actually, if this hadn't been initially a parody, it could have been recycled for a real novel.
Still, I don't feel completely satisfied with this. Part of it might have to do with the whole drama, which I will not address here (but feel free to leave a comment or send me a private message) but that left a bad taste in my mouth even before I had the book in my hands, and part of it is because of the high hopes I had before reading. While the idea is good and the author knows the frequently (ab)used tropes of YA/PNR literature and applies them perfectly, she fails to create a story original enough on its own and that feels like a parody even to those who are not aware of this intention.