Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Title: Eleanor & Park
Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: April 12th 2012
Add It: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | The Book Depository
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under.
Wow! What a year 2013 was for Rainbow Rowell. Eleanor and Park really put her on the most wanted list (in the best possible way) all over the reading world. Not only are the covers of her books extremely cute and adorable, but people talk about them like crazy. You know the saying curiosity killed the cat? I was curious and even though it wasn’t a total miss for me, I can’t exactly say that it was a hit either.

“I want everyone to meet you. You're my favorite person of all time.”

Eleanor and Park started off good and I was really pumped up to read it. The 3rd person POV isn’t my favorite in contemporary books (I prefer it to be left to fantasy/historical/PNR novels, though I'm not a big fan of it to begin with), however, it didn’t bother me that much. It kind of just.. didn’t let me connect with Eleanor and Park on a very personal level. While I did care about their struggles, I didn’t get emotional over any of the stuff. Ok, I did feel something when Park’s mom started to come around on the topic of Eleanor and gave Park a present for her. That was all though. The ending? The so-much-talked-about postcard? It did nothing for me.

There were a few things that I liked. For instance, how the characters weren’t your typical teenagers and just star-crossed lovers of sorts, but it had a lot going on—in addition to being teenagers with raging hormones, this book discussed the topic of racism, poverty, mental and physical bullying and violence, types and sizes, the norms of the society and originality that pushes [what is considered] the norm’s limits. I liked how music was combined into everything in this novel. Most of all, I loved Park’s family. The parents reminded me mine in many ways—me and my sister have had to follow certain rules and we were grounded for a few major slip-ups, but mostly, our parents understood that we were bound to make some mistakes. If we explained our problems, worries and actions, they usually understood the importance and just as Park’s dad at the end of the novel, they encouraged us to do better and try to fix what was broken.

I’m really struggling to write this review. I don’t know what to say because this book didn’t really pull any emotions out of me. It tackled important issues and it wasn’t bad, but I just don’t feel like it was as special for me as it was to some people. It didn’t whisper beautiful words to me or talk to me in a special Only-for-me language. Was it cute? Yes. It was hopeful, thoughtful and all that jazz, but I don’t really have any strong feelings I want to share. I'm fairly certain this is the case of "it's me, not the book". So I'm keeping this review short and saying that hype really didn’t live up to my expectations. I’m still ever-excited to read Fangirl and I’m positive that this book will whisper words of wisdom and swoon in my ear.

Overall rating: 2.0 out of 5.0
Stars: ★★ 

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  1. Aw so sad that you didn't enjoy this one! I have to admit that it is hyped up quite a lot (although I read it waaaay before the hype #hipster haha) and I can definitely see why people might not enjoy it as much.
    I really liked Park's family too! Except maybe Park's mum's accent. I mean, I'm Korean and although I don't have a Korean accent because I was born in Australia, my parents have Korean accents, and dude they do not sound like the accent that Park's mum supposedly has...
    I do recommend that you read Fangirl though- I'd say it's a lot better than E&P :)

  2. Awww, sorry to hear it didn't resonate with you like you expected it would :( I was afraid of this when it came to this book because I find the majority of this sort of contemporary books are kind of shallow.. I mean, yeah, I get there are values, but oftentimes it just "tells them", instead of showing them, if that makes any sense. Hopefully your next book is better!

    Faye @ The Social Potato

  3. Aww! I know what it feels like not being able to love a book because it's written in the 3rd POV. I think it's one of the worst ways of telling a contemporary story because you can't connect on any level with the characters. There are some authors who can master the 3rd person writing though, like Marissa Meyer.
    I'm sorry this didn't work for you, Siiri. Let's hope your next book is epic!

  4. "It's me, not the book."
    ^ That's kind of how I felt about Fangirl. To me, it wasn't anything special. I doubt I will be trying her others book as I don't think they're for me. Hope you have a more enjoyable experience with Fangirl, though!

  5. Awww too bad on this one Siiri! I think books like this that have a lot of hype and a rather intimidating number of positive reviews can be hard to read because the whole time I'm worried I'll be the one who won't like it, and then of course it turns into a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy situation. It's a shame you weren't able to connect to the characters enough that they pulled you into their story, that's disappointing. Thanks for sharing your thoughts though, it's always fun to read a differing opinion for a book that's been widely praised:)

  6. Great review Siiri! It's a bummer you weren't able to connect on a more personal level with the characters. I know this book had a lot of hype on it, but I don't read much contemporary so it never really was a must read for me. I hope your next read is better :)

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

  7. Looks like we both had a day for mediocre reads!

    It is so very hard when everyone else loves a book, and you feel meh about it. You never know if you wrong, if everyone else is. It's very subjective. If it's any consolation, I feel like I should be all over this book, but it doesn't pull at me.
    Nice review, Siiri!

  8. Sorry you didn't really connect with this one and the emotions just werent there

  9. Aww too bad. I haven't read this one but I have seen a lot of great reviews for it. I do like seeing the other side of the coin though it's going to make me go into it with more realistic expectations. It's always hard when you can't emotionally connect to the characters and, in turn, the romance. It's the #1 reason I will dislike a book usually. Especially in this genre! The star-crossed lovers is something I think I'd like though and I did enjoy Fangirl so I do want to give this one a try. Great review, doll!

  10. Aw, I'm so sorry this was disappointing to you. I actually quite enjoyed this one, but I do understand what you mean. It can be pretty hard to truly get invested in a book when you don't feel a connection to the characters. I'm glad you found some aspects enjoyable, and I hope you like Fangirl a lot more.

  11. While I'm sorry that book disappointed you, I'm a bit glad to see that I'm not the only one who didn't love this book. I've been struggling to figure out what I didn't like about this book, and I think you've nailed it - I just wasn't emotionally invested in anything. I liked the idea of this one, but it just wasn't what I was expecting. I loved Fangirl, though. It wasn't as perfect as I thought it would be, but I could connect to that one so much more, so I was more willing to overlook some of the flaws of that one. Hopefully you like that one better, too! :)

  12. I still haven't stared with books from this author but I don't think I'll start with this one. I have the same problem with 3 person narrative as I don't know, either I'm used to 1 pov or you cannot fully connect with characters when book is written in 3 pov. That's why you couldn't feel the book. So sorry that that happened. Great review, Siiri :)

  13. I thought it was a great and honest review and I thank you for it. I was overall excited about this one because so many people loved it that I did not stop to think about the potential of other side of it. Don't frat. I had books I absolutely hated even thought people loved them, so :) all good!

  14. Thanks for the honest review Siiri, based on all the over hyping for Rainbow Rowell perhaps this one disappointed you. Too bad it didn't connect to you, but hopefully Rainbow Rowell's other books do! I really enjoyed Attachments which I just read last weekend and it really pulled at my heart strings, but hopefully Fangirl will be a better read for you too.

  15. I'm sad you weren't able to connect to this story more. Maybe the third person narrative really threw you off? I actually really like third pov but I can see where it can distance you from the characters a bit. I do like what you said about liking that this book tackles a lot of different issues that teens face. And I loved Park's family too. They were fantastic! Hope you like Fangirl more.