Friday, December 31, 2010
Book Review: Real Live Boyfriends
Real Live Boyfriends (2010) by E. Lockhart
Inside Jacket: Ruby Oliver is a senior in high school, and she's in love. Or it would be love, if Noel, her real live boyfriend, would call her back. But Noel has turned into a pod-robot lobotomy patient, and Ruby can't figure out why. Not only is her romantic life a shambles: Her dad is eating nothing but Cheetos, her mother's got a piglet head in the refrigerator, Hutch has gone to Paris to play baguette air guitar, Gideon shows up shirtless, and the pygmy goat Robespierre is no help whatsoever. Will Ruby ever control her panic attacks? Will she ever understand boys? Will she ever stop making lists? (No to that last one).
In the fourth hilarious episode of Ruby Oliver's high school career, the neurotic, hyperverbal heroine of The Boyfriend List and its companions interviews her friends for a documentary on love and popularity. While doing so, she turns up some uncomfortable truths--and searches for a way to get back what she had with Noel. Roo has lost most of her friends. She's lost her true love, more than once. She's lost her grandmother, her job, her reputation, and possibly her mind. But she's never lost her sense of humor. The Ruby Oliver books are the record of her survival.
Review: 3/5. Despite the giddy anticipation I felt while awaiting the release of this book, it did not live up to the standards the first three books set. Ruby's account is still enjoyable, but some of her fast, rambling snark has faded and the relationships did not exactly have me on tenterhooks. Here is a jumble of my general impressions, i.e. PROS and CONS. I leave you to sort them out: 1) Ruby has a brutal argument with her mother. I was shocked by the things that were said. Some of the things felt unforgivable to me. I wanted Ruby's mom to be a sympathetic character at least some of the time, but it's fair to say that she and Ruby don't ever really get along through the series. I think Elaine (Ruby's mum) has depths that the reader never sees, since Ruby's narrating everything, but Lockhart paints a pretty unforgiving picture. 2) Events seemed half-hearted and out of order. 3) Noel's absence is kind of what drives the novel, and yet the few scenes where he's present end up being some of the best. Particularly near the end. 4) It's fair to say I would read a book about Claude, Noel's brother.
Conclusion: Worth reading, but in keeping with the unspoken tradition of series, it is not as good as the three that came before.