Thursday, May 19, 2011

Book Review & Giveaway: Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse

Release date: July 1st, 2011
(I got my ARC at the RT Convention)
Published by: The Chicken House

This book has already been published in the UK and will be making its US debut.

Pretty Bad Things by C.J. Skuse

"Wonder Twins" on the run--and running amok--in Vegas. Road Trip!
Paisley and Beau are boldface names again. Last time, paparazzi called them the "Wonder Twins," two kids found alone but alive in the woods of exotic New Jersey. Three days after their mom's death -- and before their dad's criminal misdeeds.

Flash-forward to now: Their so-called lives? Suck out loud: Hating on their cougarized, Botoxic grandma, they're totally clueless about the location of ex-con Daddy. Till they discover a stash of old letters. That's when they decide to jack the Pontiac and hit the road. Holding up donut shops in Sin City might seem extreme, but if they can just get their pretty bad faces back on TV -- or TMZ -- they might wrap up their whole gaga saga with an Oprah-worthy reunion already!

10 Likes/Dislikes:

1. (+) The Protagonists aka the Wonder Twins - Paisley is loud-mouthed and uncouth and has a hard time getting along with anybody but her brother and father though she still manages to lose her virginity in the first chapter.  Beau is a beautiful nerd who tries to teach himself French and to not disobey his grandmother and gets preyed upon by kids at his school (which is separate from Paisley's).  The twin sense thing?  Definitely going on here.  They balance each other in a nice way--Beau acting as Paisley's moral compass of sorts and Paisley encouraging Beau to live it up and act more fearlessly.  Despite their faults, they're both likeable characters.
2. (+) The Writing - This book alternates between the POV of Paisley and Beau, but what's truly brilliant about the writing is that even though you see that Paisley is a bit too disrespectful and Beau too submissive, you're still rooting for them.... despite everything--good and bad--that they do.  And that is quite a feat, given some of the things that Paisley does.  C.J. Skuse pulls you into their worlds and makes you see things from their perspective.
3. (+) Humor - Paisley's disrespectful attitude may not come off as humorous to everybody.  In fact, the publisher had a foreword talking about how the heroine and hero aren't exactly good.  Regardless, here's a sample from page 7-- "Simpson looked at me, eyes all smoky with compassion.  Luckily my bullshit shield kept out oncoming attacks of kindness.  What's that stuff they freeze Han Solo in at the end of The Empire Strikes Back?  Anyway, it was like I had that all around me.  No one could get through my shield of 'that.'"  And even when you're not in Paisley's head, the things the twins do are a bit ridiculous.
4. (+) Tragedy - Yet, even though there is humor in the story and their actions, tragedy is still there.  All the things that happened to the twins are devastating... Though Paisley won't actually admit to it, they are "lost souls" and are just kids, looking to their dad to make things better.
5. (+) Character Development - I loved how you could see a difference in how both Paisley and Beau acted when they were around each other.  I loved how they both mature towards the end and how there was a role reversal of sorts.  In short, it was nice to see how they grew after each set of trials thrown at them.
6. (--) Villain - the Skank aka the grandmother was a little too underdeveloped for me.  I would've liked to see some humanizing quality to her, but because there isn't one, I find her character to be a bit too unbelievable.  An old cougar getting constant injections of Botox who not only abuses her grandkids but also carries a gun, steals their trust fund, and has won two Emmys though no one can remember her???  Maybe I'm just a firm believer in the good of humanity because I honestly can't picture somebody like her.
7. (+) Pacing - From start to finish, this book had my attention.  Even though the twins sometimes get caught up in memories of their past, the flow of the story isn't interrupted.
8. (+/-) The Ending - I'm unsure of how I feel about the ending.  It's definitely not what I expected, but not all the issues were resolved.  And I would've enjoyed seeing the dad more in action--since the kids spent so much time looking for him, I wanted to make sure he was worth the trouble.
9. (+) The Idea - Road trip?  Twins who search for their dad after their mother's overdose but find out he's in prison?  Twins who then become a national phenomenon?  Twins who commit robbery so that their actions are televised again?  This book had a combination of things I had yet to read.  I enjoyed its refreshing originality.
10. (+) The Cover - I like that Paisley is the main feature.  Looking into her sunglasses, you can see the donut shop which started the string of robberies.  You see Beau leaning against their car by the run-down motel in Vegas where they rent a room.... In short, the cover has most of the features that make this novel unique.  The tape with title and author name was also a nice effect.

Pretty Bad Things was a fun and fast-paced read, well-worth your attention.  If you'd like to win a copy, I have an extra ARC up for grabs.  Fill out the form below.

Giveaway Rules:
-Ends a month from now, 06-19-11
-You can get extra entries for being a follower, tweeting, or posting about this giveaway, but everyone is eligible, including internationals.

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