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Monday, 22 September 2014

Bloo's Reviews | Chasing Wishes

"Horrible things always happen to good people in fairy tales. Witches blind kind princes and cast them into the desert to wander, stepdaughters live in abject poverty, ridiculed and treated badly by all... fairy tales are painful, even nasty stories right up until the ending when everything works out after all."
Chasing Wishes

*Review contains spoilers.

Title: Chasing Wishes
Author: Nadia Simonenko
Rated: 18+ (adult content)

Today's review is on Chasing Wishes by Nadia Simonenko. I had read some good reviews on this book and Nadia Simonenko before I read it, but lets just say this won't be as glowing a review as those. What I will say though my opinion on the book may be somewhat coloured by personal preference rather than actual flaws. 

Chasing wishes is the story of Nina/Irene and Isaac/Terrence. As teenagers they meet when Nina transfers to a rich private school where as a poor Hispanic girl from the wrong side of the tracks, she is welcomed by nobody apart from Isaac. Isaac comes along as sort of a knight in shining armour when Nina is shunned and bullied by those at the school. Isaac has no belief in the class divide like his peers or even his family. Nina, who is let down by everyone, including the one person she should be able to rely on - her mother - finds it difficult to trust him at first but they soon become close friends and develop feelings for each other. However the night after they share a kiss on his rooftop, Nina is taken from her mother who is a drug addict and prostitute and put into care. She is forced to change her name so her mother's dealers can't find her and she never sees Isaac again. 

Fast forward nine years and Nina is now Irene. After a chance meeting with Terrence and his personal assistant Marcus, she is offered the job as Terrence's personal assistant as she has one skill Marcus doesn't have. When she first meets Terrence she's instantly attracted and is taken aback by how much he reminds her of Isaac. Yeah, you can probably see where this is going. The thing is Terrence can't, because he's blind. (See what I did there?) And the skill that Irene has that Marcus hasn't is the ability to describe the world in such a colourful and vivid way that it gives Terrence some small semblance of being able to see. 

I have a preference for books that feature disability in some way, but this was the first I had read that featured a blind person. Personally I thought the premise was okay and the story started off sweet. It was by no means original and there was no real surprises, but if you like a story that does what it says on the tin then you'd probably like this book. If you like suspense, mystery and twists then... not so much. Over all I thought it could have been executed better, and although it was obvious Terrence was indeed Isaac, I wish the book had kept you guessing a little longer. 

Another problem I had with the book was the writing style. I'm not a big fan of first person at the best of times, but I particularly didn't like it in this book. I found it at times a bit like reading a manual and lacking in personality. If I'm reading first person I want it to feel like an intimate diary entry, not a step by step account. I also prefer it to be in the past tense rather than the present. Like, "I walked to the fridge," rather than, "I walk to the fridge." If that makes sense. Again that's just personal preference more than anything. I just found her style a little cold. 

What I did like though was the fact it went back and forth between both character's points of view, and also different points in time. Irene had a lot of flashbacks to when she and Isaac first met and such. However, again I didn't feel this was executed as well as it could have been and at times made the story feel slow and repetitive. Maybe if I had liked the writing style a little more, I would have found these parts more enjoyable. Eventually I just wanted to get to the end. I actually skipped a couple of the flashbacks because I didn't feel they really helped move the story along at all or were important.

I think I probably could have seen passed all the flaws mentioned above if the book didn't end with one of my biggest pet hates when it comes to disabled representation. Isaac/Terrence is rich and has a team of scientists that work for him inventing medical stuff. We learn that he has a side project and being the completely predictable story that it is, you know exactly what he's working on. He's working on a cure for his blindness. At the end of the book he has retinal replacement implantation surgery and although it's touch and go for a while, eventually he gets his sight back. 

I'm sorry, but I hate that. I hate that we're constantly portrayed as always striving to fix ourselves and never completely happy as we are. I also dislike it because it's not very often we are represented or have characters we can relate to, so it's highly annoying when a disabled character does come along and then is miraculously cured one way or another. It just feels like a bit of a cop out. So out of all the problems I had with this book, this is my biggest one. And again, it's totally personal preference. Someone else might find that a heart warming and perfect happy ending.

Are there any stories you would change the ending to if you could?

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