The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm really not sure where to start with this review. I feel like there's so many points to hit on that I've re-written this intro 4-times. I think I'll just give up trying to organize the thoughts in my head and just jot them down in a disorderly fashion. My apologies.
This book, in short summary, is about two art-loving teenagers falling in love San Francisco. What sets this story apart from other romance novels (or at least those I've read thus far), is that the characters are capable of empathy and communication, and the main character isn't some girl with obvious mental instability who falls for a wolf in sheep's clothing. At first, this seems like a surefire winner, but unfortunately I was soon discover there are many more pitfalls for a book to fall into.
I feel like this novel really lacked any kind of conflict. The characters worked things out so easily, just by talking things through in a matter of a few lines, that any tension in the book was quickly dissolved. On one hand, it made the characters extremely likable, and in my opinion, real. On the other hand, it made for kind of a boring read. I really think this book could have been drastically improved by throwing in a few jerks to antagonize the main characters, a few people who couldn't be reasoned with and were just plain awful people. It kind of opened my eyes a bit, realizing that a true-to-life romance probably isn't that exciting from the outside looking in unless it has a few stumbles along the way.
That said, there were plenty of things I did like about this book. Besides the interesting characters, there was also realistic portrayals of sex, interesting dialogue and descriptions, multiple sub-plots, and actually a decent storytelling ability, so hence the 3 stars. I couldn't bring myself to give it 4 though, because truthfully, it felt like a 3-star read. I never got disgusted and threw the book away, yet I never got enthralled and just couldn't put it down.
Part of me thinks this is a fault of my tastes. I knew going into this that I've never really cared for romance. I prefer to read about things I just can't go out and do, like throw fireballs from my hands or ride a spaceship. If I want romance, I'll take my wife out to dinner and experience something real. Perhaps this book is actually just amazing, and but I'm just not it's target audience. I have yet to read a romance story I truly enjoy outside of fantasy book, which makes me wonder what it is I'm actually looking for here.
Overall, I think this book actually taught me a lot as a writer. A story can have a great setting, characters, etc etc etc, but without a solid plot of tension and intrigue, that story just isn't going to do too well.
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