Thursday, August 14, 2014

Double ARC Review: Anatomy of a Misfit - Andrea Portes

Anatomy of a Misfit
Andrea Portes
Series: N/A
Genre: Young Adult
Release Date: September 14th, 2014
Rating: 1.25 out of 5 Stars
Word Rating: :'( boo
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository


Geez. Where do I even start with this. I was so SO excited for Anatomy of a Misfit when I got it at BEA 2014, because lets be real, it has an awesome title and cool font on the cover (I'm usually pretty on point with judging books by their cover/title (side bar: if you've read any of my other reviews and notice a lot of them aren't good, I usually know when I won't like a book, but I try to read it anyway, because sometimes I am so wrong and turn out grateful that I read a book despite my initial issues with it)).

Alright, let us start off with the main character. OH MAN. This chick is whiny and obnoxious and so obsessed with the "pecking order" and I think she might actually be racist towards herself(????) and slut shames and I literally hate her so much. As a character, Anika is so annoying - while also being completely unrealistic. I understand that often, main characters feel super different from their peers and that is the foundation of the book. However, the "misfit" here, who is oh so different, is basically "the third most popular girl in school" who looks really "vanilla." She is self-described as someone with friends (although she basically talks shit about her friends in the book), and feels like she doesn't fit in because of her Romanian (vampire??? seriously she makes a lot of weird stereotypical racist remarks about her own heritage, which is especially weird because she grew up in a fancy home in Romania, and I've never come across a protagonist who was so inherently ignorant to her own culture). Also never come across a narrator who hates the last name "Dragomir," because, lets face it, that is a wicked awesome last name and anyone who doesn't appreciate it is just not my type of person. Plus she kept saying how she was like spider soup or spider stew and neither of those things sound particularly appealing or teenager-y to me.

Okay, other than the obnoxious narrator, there is the issue of the other characters. Pretty much everyone in this book is super static and stereotypical: nerd-gone-bad-boy (with a vespa? I wish I knew what was going through the author's mind), the queen bee (#1 in the very important pecking order), and the school slut (#2 in the pecking order and our girl Anika's best friend, despite the slut-shaming). I don't think I have to say anymore about these characters, we all feel the same about stereotypical, overdone characters, especially when they're not done right.

Moving on to romance: there was like a weird 3-way love triangle thing going on here, but the author made me want to root for no one, and when both guys fell for Anika(out of the blue, too), it was like insane instalove (like WOW, THE INSTALOVE HURTS). Logan and Jordan both fell for Anika so fast, and I feel bad saying this because it is clear that Portes put in the effort to make it seem like Logan and Anika had a meaningful relationship, but just to be honest, neither of these relationships were ship worthy.

Also like totally like this is gonna be such a full review of the book like woo! Did you enjoy reading that? I didn't like typing that. But unfortunately, this entire book is riddled with little "teenage" mannerisms, but these are intertwined in a way that is not classic or a way that sets the tone of the novel, but instead, in a way that just annoyed me. Sometimes, too many colloquialisms in writing is just off putting, and this was one of those times. To add to the issue, the writing was a little to middle school grade level (which I am usually okay with) but in this scenario, coupled with the teenager sayings and mannerisms, the writing just seemed of poor quality.

Also, the ending sucks and pretty much the whole book is just not worth the effort in my opinion. The plot moves a little too quickly for my taste, and while some humor is incorporated, the characters are just not worth the investment of time and Anika will drive you insane. At times the book had a good moment or two, but geez, do yourself a favor and don't bother reading this. The only good thing this book has going for itself is a rockin' title.

- Amrutha

Noor's Review
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Word Rating: Anatomically Incorrect 

I finished this book a few days ago, and have kind of been stewing over it because I really don't know how I feel about it. I don't think I hate it as much as Amrutha does, but I definitely do have issues with it. It's just that there are also some parts I really enjoyed so I don't know what to feel but maybe talking about the good and the bad will clear my mind by the end of this review.

The first thing I'd like to discuss is the fact that this book tried way too hard. In the description on Goodreads, it says "Anatomy of a Misfit is Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower" and I really think Andrea Portes put too much effort into making it just that and less into fleshing out her characters or her plots. Anyway, I'm not so sure she actually knows what high school is, or how it works, or how teenagers actually act. Either that or she chooses to ignore it in order to make her plot work. Like, there's the whole scene with the magazine and Stacy Nolan and how Anika, our dear protagonist, feels bad that Becky, resident Queen Bee, has spread a rumor that Stacy is pregnant (except Anika doesn't realize Becky herself made it up because she's dense or something) and decides that sitting next to her, as the third most popular girl in school, will make it all okay.  I mean, she does spread a counter rumor but it was all just so weird and unrealistic and also probably hella suspicious. Like, if you have never sat next to this girl ever and all of a sudden the day after a huge pregnancy rumor gets spread about her you're telling people it's not true and sharing magazines with her, people will figure something is weird about the situation. Anyway, people at her school are waaaaaay too preoccupied with who's dating the "losers" and who's hanging out where and all this stuff that I feel like doesn't actually happen in high school. Like yeah, I've had the occasional "They're a couple? Never would have expected that" moment in my four years of high school but like after the initial surprise I will probably never stop to care about their relationship status or social status ever. I couldn't name you the first, second, and third most popular girls in school but apparently the count isn't just in Anika's head because later Shelli and her have a discussion about how Shelli thinks she might be bumping up to two and Anika doesn't believe her. Also, Anika knows she will move past number 3 because her name is Anika Dragomir, which is weird and ethnic. Becky even calls her Immigrant, which is really problematic behavior but Anika apparently doesn't care because she wishes to be rid of her vampire blood pretty badly. Anyway, I don't think I've ever seen anyone's name get in the way of their social standing. I mean, in the real world, ethnicity and names and all that stuff actually does play a huge part in things like getting jobs or being profiled by the police, but that is not what this book is about. This book is about high school and in high school literally no one cares what your name is, as long as they have something to call you by. Maybe this is because white people and their names were a minority in my high school, but I go to a college that is 60% white people and I still don't think having a slightly different name is going to stop you from climbing the social ladder.

Wow okay I just realized that's a huge wall of text about how Andrea Portes cannot write high school realistically so I'm going to stop that and switch gears. I will say that this review might sound really nitpicky, but if you look at the bigger picture, it's that there are so many little things wrong that add up and just make this book a little more than slightly uncomfortable to read. Anyway, let's talk about characters and the dimensions they possess (or don't) woo! I feel like her characters are so two-dimensional. Her dad only cares about her grades and only calls to make sure she still has straight A's. Her mother is kind and listens to all her problems and never gets mad, even when she steals over a thousand dollars in cash. Her stepfather eats a lot and grunts a little. None of these characters have depth. Her sisters don't speak ever and just glare at her. Why do they hate her so much? She seems to just mind her own business at home. A boy came to her door and they glared nonstop and Anika's internal monologue let us know that they would probably murder her. Why? I don't know. Are they jealous? Do they want Anika's cute boy for themselves? Why do they care so much about that and so little about her the rest of the time? I wish I could tell you. They show some compassion at the end, but honestly if they didn't in that situation, I'd be a little concerned. Even the main characters are flat. Becky is queen and she's awful and rude and no one knows why. Shelli is kindof dumb but still sweet and I like her better than Anika to be honest. Speaking of Shelli, the first words Anika says about her are negative, and then she starts gushing about how they're best friends. At first I wasn't sure if they were only talking about of social obligation but no, Anika just thinks she's better than Shelli but chooses to love her regardless of this. Maybe because she's a pretty decent person. Maybe she wants makeup tips. Who really knows?

This book has two instaloves to form a very unstable triangle and neither of them make sense. Like, this guy out of nowhere likes her and okay, I guess he knows her from school and thought she was cute or cool or whatever, but the second guy literally sees her once and can't let it go, even though she's blacked out for half that interaction. I think Logan isn't supposed to be instalove, because he got to know her on their rides home from school, but it's so rushed that it really does feel like he's saying he loves her way too soon. And of course, these bad boys have bad sides and I usually can pick sides in a love triangle easily, but this time I found myself unable to choose, not because I loved them both, but because I wasn't invested enough to care.

So what did I like? Well, once you get past certain aspects of the voice, Andrea Portes's writing itself isn't actually bad. I mean, a lot of it just reads like straightforward internal monologue, but there are a few gems in there that I like. Also, she tried to make the voice really sarcastic and biting and I don't think she pulled that off like she intended but I didn't think it was awful and even though Anika was really overdramatic and occasionally whiny, I didn't mind the parts where she tried to add in the sarcastic tone. Also, I like some of the descriptions a lot, like in the beginning when Anika describes herself:
"I bet you think I have dark hair and dark eyes and look like I listen to the Cure but you're wrong. On the outside I look like vanilla pudding so nobody knows that on the inside I am spider soup.
Unless they look closer.
For instance...Yes, there is blonde hair, blue eyes, pale skin. That is true. But, you see...everybody around here has a button nose and I have more of n ode that looks like it got lopped off by a meat cleaver. There's another thing too, I have a boy jaw, like a square jaw, and cheekbones you could cut yourself on. Also, there are dark purple circles around my eyes that might be adorable if I was a raccoon."
I personally found that a very amusing description and pretty effective in telling us what she looks like in an unconventional manner. I also like the idea of her  comparing her insides to spider soup, or spider stew, or spider whatever else she uses because she comes back to that idea a lot. I think it's a unique metaphor.

However, what I don't like about it is that even though throughout the whole book Anika mentions how she's spider soup and how she's dark on the inside and is all twisted up, she really isn't at all. She gives literally no examples as to how she could be as rotten on the inside as she says she is. Are we just supposed to go along with it? She seems perfectly normal to me. Like, the worst thing she did was steal money from her terrible boss, but she had a moral turnaround about that too. Otherwise, she's as normal as it gets. Definitely not the misfit the title must be referring to. She has popular friends and two cute guys chasing after her and nothing is really all that dark about her.

Okay,  I think I might have rambled a lot more than I intended to and I definitely have realized, now that I see all that I've written, that the one positive thing I wrote about isn't enough to make this a book I'd recommend to other people. It was a very quick read and mildly entertaining but definitely not as good as I wanted it to be. I'm disappointed. That beautiful cover and title could have held so much more.

- Noor

Have you ever misjudged a book by its cover?
Let us know in the comments!

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