Saturday, May 21, 2016

Review: "Paradise City" by CJ Duggan

There’s trouble waiting in Paradise Quiet country-girl Lexie Atkinson is about to get an education she’ll never forget. Sent from her family’s remote rural property to live in the glittering beachside Paradise City for her final school year, she is plunged into a place where looks can kill and vicious rumours can make or break you. Lexie just wants to fly under the radar … until she meets Luke Ballantine. Impulsive and charming, one thing is clear: Luke is sexier than any guy she has ever known. Suddenly good girl Lexie is breaking all the rules –getting detention, sneaking out to late-night parties, hanging out with boys – and then rumours start swirling … about her! Everything changes fast and Lexie will soon find out if Luke Ballantine is going to be good for her . . . or very, very bad?

Thanks to Hachette Australia via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
There were things that I absolutely loved about this book, and others that rubbed me the wrong way, so overall I'm a bit conflicted.  Maybe I'll just break it down exactly like that:

Things I loved/liked:
  • The Aussie slang words!  My parents are Australian, and I'll always identify certain words with them, and those words in turn bring up memories of going to school, saying them in complete ignorance of anything out of the ordinary, and having kids look at me with a blank stare or straight out asking me what the heck I was talking about.  These are the ones I saw in this book that struck a chord with me immediately:
    • texta - we say felt pens here in Canada
    • fringe - we say "bangs", although to me, "fringe" makes more sense!
    • serviette - this is one my mom still uses.  Most people here would say "napkin".
    • knickers - haha! I mean, I know what they are, but I don't think I've ever once used this word!
    • lippy - we say "lipstick"
    • ute - honestly, we don't even really have "utes" here in Canada.  This is truck country, and the bigger, the better!
    • jumper - sweater, hoodie, cardigan maybe.  But "jumper" is usually only used in reference to cables. 
    • chips - I think in Australia, when they say "chips", they are referring to what we call "french fries".  We only call them chips when they're served with fish.  Why we don't call them "fish 'n' fries", I'll never know.
    • biro, doona, and bitumen - I actually had to look these ones up, I had no idea what the author was talking about!  Could be loosely translated as pen, duvet, and asphalt, 
    • "up the duff" - I had a vague idea of this one, and because of the context I probably could have guessed, but even so, it made me laugh!
  • Lexie's character was a lot of fun!  She was feisty, spontaneous, and bold - in other words, never a dull moment around her!
  • Some of the plot elements were really well done.  There were a few surprises that I didn't predict, and I always enjoy a bit of unpredictability.
Things I hated/didn't like:
  • My main issue was the pacing.  It felt very slow, with not a lot of action for the amount of pages there were.  The action that did occur was great, but it was interspersed with a lot of fluff that could be seriously edited down.
  • Some of the characters were lacking development, namely Lexie's cousin Amanda.  Her behaviour was erratic and for the most part unexplained.  Was she dealing with severe PMS? Did something traumatic happen in her childhood?  Did she have an undiagnosed mental illness?  I don't have a clue, but I think a bit of explanation would have gone a long way in her regard.
  • Likewise, Luke's character was not as well developed as I would have liked.  He was so hot and cold with Lexie, and even though some things were explained eventually, others were not.  I'd have to say I have mixed feeling when it comes to Luke Ballantine!
And then there was the sexual content.  Don't get me wrong, I don't necessarily have a problem with this, it was just more detail than I was expecting from a book about high school kids.  In this regard, "Paradise City" was definitely geared towards a more mature reader, and reminded me of some of the New Adult titles I've read.  Younger readers (or parents with younger readers) should be forewarned!

So yeah, both good and bad things.  Not sure if I will continue the series, but at this point I'd say that yes, I would like to see what happens to Lexie and Luke, especially considering how things were left off - bit of a cliffy, folks!

My rating:

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