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Confessions of a Bibliophile

An aspiring writer and bookstore employee with an incredibly bad book-buying habit... I'll read just about anything (so long as it will appeal to my interests in some way), but my main loves are YA and sci-fi/fantasy. I also like quirky history and science books and will book nerd. A lot. Currently in the process of weeding out my personal library. Find me on Twitter @princess_starr or check out my YA book, Snowfall, on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/240027
Sammy's Hill - Kristin Gore This is another one of those books that fall into the category of “It’s really good when I first read it, but…ehh.” The problem here is that the set-up does make for a pretty engaging story—chick lit set on Capitol Hill—but it falls victim to so many different clichés and the narration drags. Our main character, Sammy, is one of the big offenders. She’s not really much of a character, and more of bundle of neuroses and quirks with a healthy dose of idealism and klutziness for good measure. I really wouldn’t mind this in a main character, but there’s nothing that defines who Sammy is. The quirks feel more like a gimmick, if only for the sheer number of them—she’s a hypochondriac, she celebrates mundane anniversaries, she keeps betta fish, she practices animal defense moves, she makes friends with telemarketers, etc. Barely any of this has any impact on the plot, and what does contribute to the plotline, the event in question is over in two pages and doesn’t really have a lasting impact on the story. And without the quirks, Sammy is a very rote chick-lit character. There’s really nothing new that Kristen Gore does here. There’s very little that I like about Sammy; most of the time I read her misfortunes and faults as “Yes, we get it, she’s clumsy, and always says the wrong thing.” The big problem with the book is that it’s long. My copy runs at 570 pages, for a mass market, so by the time the book starts getting interesting in the last third, I’m wondering when will this end. And it’s because Sammy digresses all of the time, and again, they don’t contribute anything to the plot. There’s only one insistence that applies something to the plot line, and that’s it. Also, the arbitrary details aren’t limited to Sammy—every character has to get a long description of their quirks, many of which don’t show up at all in text except when Sammy has to make a point. The worst offender is the revelation of the Wrong Boyfriend Aaron: It’s not enough that he’s a two-timer and cheats on Sammy. Oh no, he’s also a plagiarizing, gambling and coke addict. These last two details are NEVER alluded to in text. Sammy tries to explain the gambling, but risk taking does not necessarily equal gambling addict.The romance also doesn’t work with me. Aside from Aaron, Sammy ends up with two other guys within the course of the book. There’s very little chemistry with any of the three. Aaron is so blatantly the Wrong Guy for Sammy, and the one she ultimately ends up with, they have no chemistry and only hook up in the last three pages. I actually liked Sammy with her rebound guy; it seemed like he actually cared about her, but oh no, he’s almost 40. (Sammy is 26, for the comparison.) And, the whole “OMG he’s with another girl I can’t easily identify! He must be cheating/slept with her once/flirting and she’s evil!” PLEASE. DIE. It doesn’t help in this book where EVERY woman onscreen (aside from the Designated Best Friend and family members) falls into this category. Because, again, men and women can’t be professional and friends. The political angle of the book is the only thing that does work in this. Knowing Gore’s background makes it very evident that she knows what she’s talking about in this. I like the fast-paced, almost steam-of-consciousness that’s used whenever Sammy describes stumping across states. The presidential race that serves as a background to the book is actually very intriguing and makes you want to know what happens the next. The only problem here is that it is kind of hard to divorce the real-life from the expys Gore uses, but you could argue that’s baggage the reader brings as well. (I don’t obsessively follow politics, but some of the political figures are barely veiled representations.) I wanted to have more of the politics, and in fact, many of Sammy’s better scenes are dealing with Sentorial bills and juggling her workload.It’s a book that had potential, but it ultimately fails. When I first picked it up, it was because “Oh, Kristen Gore wrote for Futurama, awesome,” so I was a little familiar with her writing. The problem is that it relies on rote characterization and never does anything different with the ideas present. There’s some good things, but I think that this could have been so much better than it was.