Friday, August 5, 2011
Starstruck by Cyn Balog
Gwendolyn "Dough" X doesn't think she has much going for her—she carries a few extra pounds, her family struggles with their small bakery in a town full of millionaires, and the other kids at her New Jersey high school don't seem to know that she exists. Thank the stars for her longtime boyfriend, Philip P. Wishman—or "Wish." He moved away to California three years ago, when they were 13, but then professed his love for her via e-mail, and he's been her long-distance BF ever since.
At the beginning of her junior year, though, Wish e-mails that he's moving back to Jersey. Great, right? Well, except that Dough has gained about 70 pounds since the last time Wish saw her, while Wish—according to his Facebook photos—has morphed into a blonde god. Convinced that she'll be headed for Dumpsville the minute Wish lays eyes on her, Dough delays their meeting as long as she possibly can.
But when she sees Wish at school, something amazing happens. He looks at Dough like she's just as gorgeous as he is. But Wish is acting a little weird, obsessed with the sun and freaked out by rain. And the creepy new guy working at the bakery, Christian, is convinced that there's more to Wish's good looks than just healthy eating and lots of sun. He tells Dough that a mark on Wish's neck marks him as a member of the Luminati—an ancient cult of astrologers who can manipulate the stars to improve their lives. Is Wish and Dough's love meant to be—or are they star-crossed?
I cringed. Multiple times. On Gwen's behalf. So many unfortunate things happening to one girl: an accidental encounter with someone's nails that turns bloody for her; a wardrobe malfuntion that's so ill timed, it's almost tragic; a ten dollar hair cut on the fly. And a pinching incident that had me questioning her intelligence.
I wanted to smack WISH on one occassion too. One incredibly revealing moment where he more or less says 'being beautiful sucks.'
But, I confused myself by hoping for a moment of Christian, the pothead poser, who's just might be literary scholar (her words, not mine)
And now, I'm torn. Did I enjoy it or not?
I like funny. Really, I do. And while Gwen's observations of others dripped with sarcasm and had me laughing, the comments she directed at herself were PAINFUL to read. Self-depracting humor isn't a bad thing, but when it's page after page after page of just that well, I could only feel sad for her. One thing is clear: she has a very unhealthy relationship with her body. Oi! And all that in the first half of the book without WISH. Once he's in the picture things got a bit more awkward/confusing.
Was she too focused on the physical? Or were the people around her too focused thereon? Was she too sensitive, wrapped up in how others saw her? A resounding yes to all questions. I think these are the things that had me not loving her as a character (even given her humor, which zinged.)
And Startstruck would have been an OK humorous contemporary read too. One-third in, two-thirds in and I was thinking, predicting really that it'd be a 'love is blind' story, along the lines of that Black/Paltrow movie. You know, a funny and sweet romcom. And it was at first, but come chapter twenty-something, I hit a wall when a new element was thrown into a mix. AND I really don't know how I felt about the direction the story went after that!
I mean really, wasn't it already imbalanced with him looking the way he did and her feeling the way she did? Did it really have to have a magical/cult explanation? Seriously? Without that, STARSTRUCK would have been a three point five for me, given Christian, and Gwen's humor, but with that twist, I have to settle for a 3
"It's all me. I'm not just one flavor. You're not either. So it all comes down to which 'you' you want to show the world."