This book had so much potential, it just makes me crazy.
Excellent characterization. Delightfully original plot. Tight pacing. And a fake, shallow romance that brought it all crashing down.
Willow and Alex were such facinating protagonists, but the author completely wasted her brilliant characterization work. Did Alex fall for Willow's quirky, generous, and loyal personality? Did she fall for his mature, experienced outlook on life?
No. From Square One, it was, "He's gorgeous/She's beautiful."
I really should be used to this by now, but coming from this book, it was such a letdown. Just once, couldn't we have a YA romance between normal-looking characters, a romance that blossoms slowly and naturally from their appreciation of one another's inner qualities? What would be so terrible about this?
Also, the scene in which they expressed their feelings for one another was unbearable. To watch helplessly as Mrs. Weatherly slowly and thoroughly undermined all the careful characterization she had built up... ugh. Not only was it incredibly cheesy, appearance-centered, and boring (rehashing every stage of their journey and how their feelings developed), but it just went on too long. As another author puts it, "The more the words, the less the meaning, and what does that benefit anyone?"
Overall, I wish I could rate the elements of this book seperately, but in the end I'm left with a disheartened three stars. Despite all the wonderful elements I've already mentioned, this book was painful for me to read. As an aspiring writer who struggles with characterization and with original plots, to see such a unique premise and such amazing protagonists be knocked into the mud, kicked, and spit on by such a pathetic romance was agonizing.