Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Review: The Game Changer by Marie Landry

*This book is NOT YA.

As always, full disclosure: Marie Landry is one of my oldest blogging friends. Regardless of anything else I might say, I feel that I owe my readers that fact right off the bat. Some of you won't feel that matters--either I'm going to like a book or not. And some of you will find that vital, and that's fine too. I feel it should be your choice, though, so there's the info to make it.

I was pretty sure that I would enjoy The Game Changer. I loved Marie's debut, Blue Sky Days, and the premise for her first adult novel sounded just as great, so I dove in ready to fall head over heels in love.

And I did.

But simply saying that isn't enough to help you base a purchasing decision, so lets see if I can put into words the many ways that The Game Change is just plain awesome.

The Plot: (Summary from GoodReads)
Melody Cartwright has never had a problem with change, but for the first time in her life the changes are beyond her control—she suddenly has a niece she never knew, but has to prove herself to; her best friend is making huge life changes of her own; and she has to deal with her ex and his crazy new girlfriend who has stalker tendencies.

When Melody meets confident, sexy Julian, she’s not interested in a relationship. He tells her it’s possible for a man and a woman to just be friends, and despite his ultra-charming ways there’s something about him that makes Melody believe he could be right.

During a time of change and turmoil, it doesn’t take long for Julian to become everything Melody never knew she needed in her life. But is it possible for them to remain ‘just friends’ or will Melody be a game changer for Julian the playboy?

What girl hasn't experienced the uniquely exquisite pain of being dumped? It always sucks, it always hurts and if you've been with the guy for a long time--as our heroine Melody has been with her now-ex, Rick, it can be very disorienting. This is the first of many big changes faced in The Game Changer

As with all good contemporary, the story really pulls us into the life of the main character and balances moving the story forward with letting us get a real feel for who Melody--and the people in her 'world'--are. The good, the bad and the ugly. 

Although this is not YA, one of the things that I liked about it was that it still carried the same sense of exploration, discovery and self-growth that I would want from a contemporary YA novel (and which was abundantly present in Blue Sky Days.) I feel that we started the book with Melody at a turning point in her life, which is always a great place to meet a character, and that Marie put this to good use.

The only plotline that I feel could have been used to better extent was Sydney, Rick's new crazy-stalker girlfriend. I wish we'd seen a bit more action on Melody's part about this. But then, if we had the plot may have ended very different then what it did, so this is likely a personal quirk. To be clear: this did not detract from the story. It's likely just a difference in how two writers would have handled something.

The Characters: 

From start to finish, The Game Changer immerses the reader in the life of its main character, Melody Cartwright. As with Blue Sky Days' Emma, Melody straddles being a strong and balanced character with being vulnerable and having her share of issues she needs to overcome in order to get this way. I like that. If you start with your lead already totally together, where is there for them to go? I'm noticing, as I read Marie's books, that I find her female characters refreshingly relatable. They're the kind of people I wish were real, because I would love to have them as friends. 

I really loved Melody's best friend, Olivia. The two had very different personalities and watching them interact and grow was very interesting. One of the things I think Marie did very well in this book is giving each character their own life and having those lives interconnect. One of the dangers of fiction is that every other character's life only goes so far as how it effects the main character. That was not the case here.

'Rick the dick' was aptly named. What I will say, though, is that I think Marie did a terrific job of showing us a different perspective of him as Melody's perspective shifted. I really really hated him in the beginning, but as the book went on my attitude toward him (and hers, I felt) moved more toward neutrality or indifference. That's a mark of a good writer. Once you get a reader to really dislike someone it can be very hard to shift that attitude. 

And then, of course, there is Julian. I'm normally not big on guys who are players (either past or present) but I actually really liked him, and I think the whole 'can girls and guys be friends?' was a great way to build up the tension between the two of them. There were moments I wanted to kiss this guy and, admittedly some where I wanted to kick him somewhere painful, but all in all he was a great love interest and I enjoyed seeing him and Melody together. 

The Romance: 

Melody and Julian have chemistry that absolutely sizzles. They are probably one of my favorite romantic pairings this year. There was a certain level of instant awareness, or possibly attraction, here. But there was no insta-love, which is a good thing since this is contemporary.). I liked seeing them get to know each other, and found watching their views of one another change as the novel moved forward.

The tension of the will they or won't they between this pair was borderline torturous, in the absolute best way possible. I wanted them to get together so bad, but Marie really made me work (wait) for this as a reader, and actually succeeded in making me wonder whether they would. (In part because of good writing and in part because I was under the impression that this was chick lit, and the rules for that are a little different then standard romance.)

I think the best thing about Melody and Julian was that I slowly got to see how it would be for them to have one another in their lives. By showing their friendship and attraction grow side-by-side, they had a lot more to lose then a couple who is purely focused on physical attraction. I cheered for them and feared for them and it made this book impossible to turn down.

In General: 

If you are looking for a beautifully written, extremely compelling contemporary romance, The Game Changer comes highly recommended. I can be a fussy reader and I was in a 'mood' when I got this, yet I zipped through it in two days. If it affects me like that under those circumstances, it has to have something pretty awesome going for it.

1 comment:

Thanks for visiting my blog. I love comments! Please feel free to tell me what you think about my blog and the things I am posting. I enjoy hearing what others think. :)

You Might Also Like:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...