Monday, June 8, 2015

Review: Upside Down

Title: Upside Down (Off the Map #1)
Author: Lila Riley
Page Count: 384
My Rating: 3 TURTLES: An enjoyable read, but I suggest check out if you like the topic before adding it to your to-read list.
*Thanks to Netgalley for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.


If You Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found

Twenty-one-year-old Natalia Stolfi is saying good-bye to the past-and turning her life upside down with a trip to the land down under. For the next six months, she'll act like a carefree exchange student, not a girl sinking under the weight of painful memories. Everything is going according to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes and the troubling ability to see straight through her act.

Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. After the girl of his dreams turned into a nightmare, he moved back home to Melbourne to piece his life together. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He's never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.


This is a tough one for me to review. For most of the time I was reading Upside Down I was enjoying it as I would a book I would give 3.5 or 4 stars. After thinking about it for a few days though, I kept thinking back on several problems I had with this book that in the end caused me to lower the rating. I did like the overall story arc, I lived the setting, and I liked how complex most of the characters were. Lithe story does follow a formula I see in a lot of New Adult books, but it is a formula I enjoy, and that is why I keep going back to the genre. This book is also well paced, so I got through it very quickly. For the most part it is a strong edition to the NA genre, but for me personally, there were just a few things that left a bad taste in my mouth.

I really dislike the trope where at the beginning of the story the whole impetus of the main character to go on a long trip/go to a distant college is because they are avoiding therapy. I know it raises the stakes and shows how tortured they are, but I think that a character can still be tortured and angsty while taking care of themselves. So I guess it isn't this book in and of itself that I have a problem with this issue, but it would be nice to see some more variety within the genre.

Another thing I was not a fan of in this book was how one dimensional Talia's mother and her mother's boyfriend were. They were essentially personified negative stereotypes. This surprised me since all the other characters seemed so layered and unique, so I kept waiting for something to change and it never did. I am not saying that there are not people like Talia's mother who use spas and alternative medicine as an excuse to not look at their issues, but most of those people in that community are just the opposite. The characters themselves would not have bothered me except that they really did embody the negative assumptions and biases many people have towards that group. It was really disappointing and incongruous to have these caricatures amidst more layered characters. 

Between these two instances and a few more that just rubbed me the wrong way, I will not be continuing on with this series. If these sorts of thugs don't seem like they would bother you, I would still say to check it out if you are looking for a new New Adult series to get into. Perhaps it will be your cup if tea where it was not mine.

Disclosure: this post contains links to an affiliate program (Amazon), for which I receive a few cents if you make purchases. 

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