Tuesday, May 5, 2015

99 Days review

99 Days by Katie Cotugno
Release Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Pages: 384
Keywords: first love, forbidden love, family
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
Goodreads | Buy It!
Day 1: Julia Donnelly eggs my house my first night back in Star Lake, and that’s how I know everyone still remembers everything—how I destroyed my relationship with Patrick the night everything happened with his brother, Gabe. How I wrecked their whole family. Now I’m serving out my summer like a jail sentence: Just ninety-nine days till I can leave for college, and be done.
Day 4: A nasty note on my windshield makes it clear Julia isn’t finished. I’m expecting a fight when someone taps me on the shoulder, but it’s just Gabe, home from college and actually happy to see me. “For what it’s worth, Molly Barlow,” he says, “I’m really glad you’re back.”
Day 12: Gabe got me to come to this party, and I’m actually having fun. I think he’s about to kiss me—and that’s when I see Patrick. My Patrick, who’s supposed to be clear across the country. My Patrick, who’s never going to forgive me.
It's a little confusing, a little disorienting, just like the book and what was happening to Molly. I love the actual book much more than the ARC, and I'm glad it was switched to have no pink. It's much more realistic, and the end papers are beautiful!

This book had a different feel to it. It's a contemporary, but it felt like a thriller (and thrillers are TOTALLY my thing). It was a fast-paced read, and I was so scared for what would happen next because everyone (and I mean literally everyone) kept making terrible decisions.

I genuinely wanted to know what happened in all these characters' lives, both in the past and in the present. I wanted more of the story to unfold about what happened the previous year to cause all the hatred, and I wanted to see how Molly's decisions would affect her current life.

I also loved that it brought up the serious issue of slut-shaming. It was a difficult book to read (understatement of the century) because Molly was constantly at fault for the things she'd done, and the others in the town were not afraid to let her know what they thought of her. She was at fault, but she was not the only one involved in the issues, and she was not the only one to blame. Briefly, one of the brothers mentions that it's sort of not fair she is taking all the heat because there were two of them involved, but it kind of got brushed away very quickly, which made me angry. That's definitely the intent, and it's brought up again briefly at the very end, but I wanted that to be a bigger part of the story because it's an important issue. The double-standard in our society is huge, and it's only hurting women, and I'm glad the book brought this up. It's a thing that needs more discussion, and Cotugno is excellent at diving right into the really messy, confusing, and difficult things about relationships and life in general.

Molly, Molly. I just said there were two people involved in this scandal, and there were. But even after the fact, one year later, Molly's back and still making all kinds of decisions that are leading to situations like that, where things happen and two people should be blamed. After this whole thing happened, I would stay far away from the family and my former friends and probably everyone. Which she does for about 3 days, but then it's right back to where she was before, in with the same people and the same things happening, and I just don't understand why she wanted to fall back in when she was so desperate to get away.
I also really didn't care for either of the Donnelly brothers. Patrick was a scumbag, and in my eyes, he didn't have any redeeming qualities. He was manipulative and caused a lot of grief and stress for Molly, and even though she could have made better decisions, Patrick was largely at fault for pushing her in the wrong direction to begin with. Gabe was a little better, and at least he seemed nice. However, I just didn't get their relationship. I never felt like they had a true connection, and nothing was ever mentioned about them sharing interests or hobbies or liking the same things. Their only encounters were romantic ones, and I just didn't buy their relationship.

However, just because I didn't like the characters or understand their motivations, this doesn't mean I didn't like the book. Messy and complicated are a part of life, and sometimes feelings for multiple people happen. Sometimes you can't explain why you like someone, even if they do seem bland and irritating to other people. These were reasons the book was difficult to read, but I still am so glad I read it because it was difficult to read.

Like I said, I really wanted to know how it was going to end. Cotugno managed to keep me hooked even with characters I didn't like, and I didn't truly know what was going to happen (other than the inevitable explosion after tons of bad decisions from literally all the characters in the book). But I didn't know HOW or WHEN or WHAT exactly was going to happen, and that made this contemporary have the feel of a thriller. You knew something terrible was coming, but every page it didn't happen made you more and more nervous.

I'm going to be honest—I don't like reading about poorly done love triangles (if they're written well, I can totally be on board). But they DO happen in real life whether people admit it or not. They may not happen to every person, but feelings are confusing, and they definitely happen. This is an important book to showcase how influential one bad decision can be. It's also an important book because slut-shaming needs to be stopped. Because guys make dumb decisions too. I don't know how she does it, but I've never read a more well-written novel about messes and confusion and characters doing stupid things.

Have you read this yet? It made me feel lots of things, and I still can't quite work out my feelings other than that it brings up super important issues really well. 
Are there other messy books that I just haven't read?
Discuss in the comments!

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