Dec 14, 2010

So Shelly by Ty Roth

Gordon & Keats would never have been acquaintances, let alone friends, if it weren't for Shelly. So when she turns up dead in an apparent sailing accident, the two boys are thrust upon one another to piece together the story of her life & her demise.

After stealing her ashes from the wake at the their high school, the boys embark on an adventure to fulfill her final wishes. Together they share their memories of her: from Gordon & Shelly's childhood skinny dipping to Keats & Shelly's encounter at the Planned Parenthood, & what Shelly was really all about.

Needless to say none of this can be done without copious amounts of self-reflection & analyzing how their actions affected Shelly. Only, there are some people who don't want to see the boys complete Shelly's mission. Time is running out for them to solve her jigsaw puzzle of an existence & fulfill her final wishes.

I wish I could say that I liked this book. Honestly I would compare it more to a car accident: you're horrified, but you can't seem to look away. I know that this book was supposed to be a play on the lives of the famous Romantic (as in Romanticism, not necessary hearts & flowers love) poets John Keats, Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron) & an amalgamation of husband & wife pair Percy & Mary Shelley, but it was just weird. Had the characters been a little older, around college-age, I think I would have been more okay with most of the extreme sexual content (pedophile nanny, incest, rape, statutory rape, etc) & overall plot. While I know this was not supposed to be exactly "realistic fiction", I found it so unbelievable I was baffled. Not to mention the fact that, while I believe the author to be using common-to-the-era vocabulary for the characters, there were words even I didn't know that I had to look up. While that can be an occasionally cool thing, this happened about every 6 or 7 pages.

Now, with all that said, I do have to say the characters were very well built. By the end of the book I felt like I really had a firm grasp on who they were & what they were doing with themselves. It was a coming-of-age tale the really allowed the reader to follow the growth & development of the characters. Each of them were well-shaped & behaved as one would expect of their character.

While I think this is an interesting way to spin the lives of historical figures into modern times, this one's execution just didn't work for me. I look forward to hearing other people's thoughts on this novel.

1 comment:

Danielle said...

I agree with a lot of the points you made in your review. I couldn't connect with the characters and sometimes the things that were happening to them just seemed so far-fetched, but at the same time, I couldn't stop reading either. See more of my thoughts in my full review: