Title: A Little Something Different
Author: Sandy Hall
Genre: Young Adult | Contemporary | Romance
Summary: The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow even when nothing is going on, somethingis happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship. Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together….
Final Rating: ★★☆☆☆
This book sounded fun and quirky and cutesy. Usually, I don’t pick up books I’ve heard absolutely nothing about. I’m an avid follower of most of the popular YA Booktubers out there, and none of them have ever talked about this book. So there I am, standing in the Strand Bookstore, perusing through the countless tables, and I see this cute little cover with a seemingly interesting, cute-sounding storyline. And I decided to pick it up. Fifty pages in, I realized exactly why I don’t pick up books I haven’t heard much about.
The storyline wasn’t terrible. The book is about two college students: Gabe, a morbidly shy young man with a past, and Azalea, a soft-spoken, generally nice freshman. The story is told from everybody’s point of view except theirs. Yes, you see their story unfold. Yes, you wonder what’s going to happen next. Yes, you do ship them. But the thing was: there were zero subplots. You’d think that having fourteen different perspectives would add a lot more to the story than just a cute he-likes-her-she-likes-him angle, but there wasn’t any. 1.5/5
The narrative is set on a university campus. Hall makes the campus work. She utilizes the shops, the dorms, the party houses, the classrooms and the fields into her narrative. I like academic settings, because I feel like characters tend to develop more in an academic, yet highly social surrounding (like school.) But for this to work, the narrative has to intertwine itself with the surrounding. You can’t order a burger and take out all the sauces and the vegetables. Yeah, the burger still works with the bun and the patty, but is it as effective? No. The narrative remained in place- it was fixated on one thing and Hall used the setting accordingly. But if she used the setting a bit more effectively, it would have been much better. For example, how were our characters doing in other classes? What was the university like? How did they decide upon this university? What were the dorms like? What were the decorations like? All these things, seemingly irrelevant details, are important in a novel. 2/5
See, this was the part that bothered me the most. You can have a terrible book with a terrible storyline but well-built characters, and the book in itself is semi-redeemable. You have an amazing plot and flat characters, the book is meh. You have a not-so-great plot, and horrendous characters, this is what happens.
Maybe I’m being harsh. But that’s the thing with fourteen freaking perspectives. Every single character is so absolutely, ridiculously, unrealistically fixated upon the protagonists’ relationship with each other that we have no freaking clue who these characters are! The book felt like it had TWO characters in it, when in fact it had several. These characters are so absorbed in Gabe and Lea’s story that we have no idea what’s going on in their lives, what their personalities are like. Do they not have lives of their own? Is that all they do? Think about Gabe and Lea all the time? Because that’s what Sandy Hall made it look like, and the result was a disaster. This book might have been one of the most fun books I would have read if Hall had limited the perspectives to four, or at most, five, and given each character a back-story with subplots, with their own issues. She used these characters as her mouthpiece to tell the narrative, and that’s all they were. What a shame. 1/5
I have to hand it to Sandy Hall for taking such a massive, ridiculous and slightly silly decision of having fourteen different points of views. You either make it work over the course of 5000 pages like George RR Martin did, or you don’t do it at all if you have 250 pages to do it with. The writing was dull, lifeless and generic. There was barely any prose between the dialogues- the book read almost like a screenplay. Anevent would be witnessed by a character, and another character would get a detailed re-telling of the SAME FREAKING EVENT by Gabe, and another character would get yet another, detailed re-telling of that very same event. It drove me nuts. GAH. 1/5
Would I recommend? Nope.
Would I re-read? Not unless I want to tear my hair out, which isn’t very likely.