Merry Wanderer of the Night  + [YA]

Review: Sharks and Boys by Kristen Tracy

Sharks and Boys by Kristen Tracy is a book I really wanted to like. It's contemporary, which I absolutely love, and it also has this wild-survivor life thing going on. I mean, a bunch of teenagers stuck on a raft in the middle of the ocean while sharks swim right next to their puny little inflatable 'boat'?! It has got to be amazing, right? Sadly... Not so much.

The story follows 4 sets of twins, Enid (main character), her twin Landon; her boyfriend Wick and his (jerkish) brother, two older twins and two twins with a multi-cultured background. These 8 teens have been involved in a twin-studies program since they were young kids, so they have known each other and been pretty close for years. Enid is the only girl and while it's not really a big issue, it has started changing things.

To be perfectly honest, I thought that Tracy tried to do way to many things with this story and what I feel it ended up with is a main character who drove me insane. Enid is that super clingy, controlling, possessive, annoying and insecure girl friend that no one ever wants to be around. She constantly needs Wick to tell her she's amazing or talented, even when they've already talked about that specific subject 10 times. She needs him to always be there, right when/where she needs him and she's just... UGH! Somehow, when Wick tells her that he needs some space, she's completely blindsided. (Umm, really? You didn't see that coming?!) She immediately assumes it's because of another girl, who crushed on him before moving and gets really upset. Wick then goes with the 6 other boys in their twin studies (including her brother) for a post graduation party for the oldest set of twins (who Enid has been upset with since their parents were both killed in a car accident and they took their grief out by being mean).

So, naturally, Enid assumes that he's going to cheat on her with this other chick, so she steals her mother's car (stranding her mom) and stalks him. And, it's planned. She stole the directions out of her brother's garbage can. She sneaks onto the boat the boys are all partying on, so she's there when the huge storm wrecks it. *Surprise!!*

Do you see? Do you get why I was annoyed with her? Why I didn't want to spend time with her?! Sigh.

Not only that, but there is so much additional drama to the story. And not the good kind of drama like TNT, but more like Soap Opera drama. It's about that well thought out and well planned. There was more than one occasion where I feel like the internal dialogue must have been — Oh ya... Let's go with that plot thread! But, we didn't do anything to prep for it! Oh well. That'll be okay. They won't notice because we'll toss in another shark or something right there. Ooh! Great idea! No one will notice that this is ridiculous if there's another shark!!

I have a feeling that this review is coming across as overly harsh right now, and I feel really bad about that. There were some good points to this book as well. It really wasn't all bad. But the more time passes since I've read the book, and the more I think about it, the less favorable I feel toward it.

I did like the twin dynamics at play here. It was really interesting to watch the differences and similarities from one twin set to the others and then to break that down more into the actual twins. I also really liked Landon. A lot. He was sometimes a bit stand-offish and brusque with Enid, but it was obvious that he really cared about her, and when it came right down to it, he always had her back.

I did not, however, like Wick. At all. I don't blame him at all for wanting space from Enid. I wanted space from Enid after the first chapter. But the way that he handled things later and the way that he spoke to Enid really rubbed me the wrong way. And even though Enid really bothered me, she does have some pretty valid reasons for being a little insecure in her relationship (insert really crappy dad here) so I got it, even while it bugged me.

For good or bad, the relationships were really what drove this book. The plot was just such a convoluted mess that I had no idea what to focus on. And that's not even including the bit about the sharks! I was expecting that. But there was just so much random, seemingly unconnected information and so much drama that didn't move the story anywhere or help the character development that it got overwhelming. Also, I felt like one of things that should have been the most emotional parts of the story was a complete cop-out. And, if you've read the book, I have a feeling you know which part I'm talking about.

Honestly, there are more things about this novel that bothered me. The way certain characters handled personal situations and decisions, the way the author represented certain facts about and characteristics/beliefs of the characters and so on. But, I honestly don't want to just tear the book down. It really wasn't that bad. It just definitely wasn't the book for me.

Would I ever read this book again? Highly unlikely. Would I ever give Tracy another chance? Most likely. Would I recommend this book to others? Possibly, but not without some strong reservations.

If the idea intrigues you, give the book a chance. And then, please! Come back and tell me what you thought. I'd love to be able to chat with someone about their thoughts on the book!

*Disclaimer: I received a copy of this through a Teen Book Scene Tour.