Friday, July 6, 2018

ARC Review: Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Title: Final Draft
Written by: Riley Redgate
Published: June 12, 2018 by Harry N. Abrams

(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he's suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed. 

 At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.

I really enjoyed the last Riley Redgate book that I read so when I saw her newest book was going to be about an aspiring writer I knew I needed to read it. And it was an okay read, but not my kind of contemporary.

One thing I will say about this book is that it is very serious and heavy. It deals with some serious issues that a lot of teens, and people in general deal with. This isn’t exactly a flaw in the book, it was a good book, and for the right reader they will probably really love this book, but I am not that kind of reader. I prefer my contemporaries to be more on the light-hearted side. I like a lot of humor mixed in with some more serious real life moments. But a book like this which packs a heavy punch isn’t my kind of read.

But I can be okay with a serious and issue based book if there is a solid plot and I don’t know that this book really had one. It’s more of a character-driven read, which is common for contemporaries, but it felt more like a slice of life kind of book and lacked cohesion for me. It just took the reader from moment to moment with the main character without much purpose. What was her goal... personal growth? To get better as a writer? To figure out who she was and what she wanted with life? All of the above? And yes, this is the way life is, we don’t all have clear goals and visions and end up falling down weird and twisted paths that we regret. But for me, that’s not a compelling read. Again, not a flaw of the book, just a personal preference.

One thing I did like however was the characters. I felt like Laila was one of the most honest and relatable characters I have read in a long time. I loved that she was plus size and proud. I loved that she looked nothing like her sister and the part where people pretended to see the resemblance is so my experience. I also liked that she was having a hard time dealing with loss, and depression, and wanted approval. She was very real and very relatable. And she definitely needed to be likeable because this book was so character-driven. If you didn’t connect with Laila it would have made the rest of the book very challenging.

I also feel like the relationships and sexual identity here was really well handled. I liked that Laila wasn’t hyper focused on love and being with someone so then when she did have feelings for them it caught her off guard. And I liked when she was dealing with her sexual identity and realizing that maybe she was attracted to a girl. It wasn’t exactly a struggle but it wasn’t obvious either. I think a lot of young readers will be able to relate to Laila in that respect as well. It was a good book to read for Pride Month because I think it dealt really well with the sexual identity of the character.

In general, I think this was an okay character-driven read. It had a likable protagonist who is struggling with a lot that I think people will relate to. But from a plot standpoint I didn’t connect with the story.

I give Final Draft by Riley Redgate 7.5 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Borrow/Bypass. I would recommend this to someone who reads more contemporaries and wants to read a more serious book that has a slice of life feel. It's not however a book I would recommend to to casual contemporary readers like myself.

Have you read Final Draft? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!

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