I’m new to Netgalley and this was my first book that I was approved for. I was quickly intrigued by premise of a teenager obsessed with movies, a mystery surrounding his father, a tragedy from his younger days, but this book just didn’t work for me.
Our main character, Joe, is just a terrible person. He cares about his sister, but only to keep her from interfering in his life. We are never given any indication they have a relationship, and they simply co-exist alone. Their mother is living with her boyfriend and has abandoned her children. Their father is MIA. No idea where he, a marine biologist, has gone. Do marine biologists often disappear for their job? Seems like a job that doesn’t have much intrigue behind it.
Joe and his friends play the “Movie Game” which involves someone saying an actor, next person says a movie the actor was in, next has to name another actor in that movie (I think, I’m not good with these kinds of games) and Joe frequently wins. But to have this be the title of the book is baffling to me. It was the most minor of subplots. I suppose Joe’s obsession with movies was to illustrate his escape from his tragedy where his girlfriend died. They were 14 and it was young love. Of course, anyone who loses a loved one when they are freshmen, has two awful parents will be a giant mess of a person, but I just wasn’t sold on Joe. He was too thin, too much of a stereotype.
There was an absolutely ridiculous plot involving the girl next door that didn’t fit at all. I felt like the author needed certain things to happen (Joe needed to learn about movies from the ’70s, he needed to have a place to escape, he needed someone to help him craft absurd lies, etc) and the author thought, “How can I get all these things to happen?” and he created this neighbor plot. There’s another plot involving a couple limo drivers and a scheme that didn’t work either. Again, it felt forced and wedged into the plot to make a couple events happen.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book. The author made attempts at using figurative language and I rolled my eyes at how bad it was. The mystery surrounding Joe’s father was ludicrous, and I didn’t care at all about Joe. His sister was so much more intriguing, but we didn’t spend much time with her at all.