Sunday, May 12, 2013

To Be Maria

To Be Maria by Deanna Proach
Publication Date: July 29, 2012
Publisher: Pulse
Pages: 315
Keywords: drugs, high school, popularity
Format Read: eARC via NetGalley

Seventeen-year-old Anya Preschnikov wants to become a famous actress, but she's faced with two problems. Her father ignores her and doesn't have any money to support her. At school, she's bullied on a daily basis, yet she believes that she will gain her stepping stone to stardom if she's accepted by her peers. All of this changes when Maria Hernandez — an immigrant from Spain — comes to Peach Valley Senior High. Maria knows what it takes to fit in. She's assertive, confident, and she dresses suggestively — characteristics that all of the popular kids admire. Yet, she sees in Anya what no one else sees: beauty and talent. 
When Maria extends her hand of friendship, Anya is elated. Her rise to popularity is about to become a reality, but it ends at a house party when a boy's rude comment sends her into a rage. Desperate to belong somewhere, Anya and Maria seek new friends outside of school. They meet Alex and Marissa, a young couple who eagerly welcomes them into their world of parties and drugs. Anya and Maria soon find out that Alex is a drug dealer, but they are so lured by his wealth, good looks, and aggressive confidence that they can't resist his friendship. They don't know that Alex's gang is at war with a rival gang — one that's run by Anya's older brother, Adrik — until one incident puts their lives in danger's path. To make matters worse, Alex won't let Anya and Maria out of his sight. The two teens are forced to make a decision that's a matter of life or death.

This book did not turn out how I expected. I was left feeling extremely disappointed and frustrated with pretty much everything about the story. As far as the general plot/storyline goes, I think it was trying to be too many things for one novel, especially the way in which the book was written. It kind of went back and forth from Maria's perspective to Anya's, but sometimes we saw inside their heads, which was weird. The narration switched a lot, and made the writing very inconsistent and hard to read. I just felt like I was reading an extremely rough first draft rather than a novel getting ready to be published. But back to the plot. The first half is a girl trying to fit in and be popular and get an acting scholarship, while semi-making friends with the cool kids in about a millisecond. She gets her books ripped up, and turns around and wants to be this girl's best friend all in about 10 pages. In the same day. It makes no sense.

But then the book shifts, and it's almost like all that other stuff that happened at the beginning is not even a part of the plot anymore, and now it's the whole drug dealer, teenagers in the party world sort of thing. And then there's the creepy adult who won't let them go. It was just entirely too many different stories to focus on at once, told from two different perspectives, and it just made everything more confusing. Either way, I wasn't into any of the story lines. The writing was too jumbled and thought-like that it was hard to distinguish between narration, speaking, and thinking.

There were also just a lot of little things throughout the writing that just made me feel very frustrated and mad. For example, on the first page, there was this whole big thing where Anya tries to pick out a shirt to wear, but she has this big speech in her head like, "I wish my clothes were pretty or cool, but my dad's a bum, and that sucks, but this random girl I've never talked to seems cool, everyone thinks my friend Patrick and I are dating, but we're not, something about my sister." No one has full sentences and conversations and replies in their head. It was very unbelievable and I wasn't pulled into the book like I should have been. Also, Maria is Spanish. So is her family. At one point, her mom uses the masculine noun to her daughter. ...... If there is another language in the book, it at least should be correct. Especially something easy like that.

And her family came all the way over for her dad's electrician job or something? Like there's no electricity in Spain? Please. And they wouldn't speak English at home. Especially if they had to use it all day.

Overall, I was disappointed with everything. It seems like some people like it, and I was excited, but felt sad and angry by the time I finished it.

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