Grace by Elizabeth Scott is my 5th Scott Contemporary (although it is arguable that this is not quite Contemporary) and it has firmly cemented the idea that I (quite atypically) much prefer Scott's lighter Contemporary novels to her darker more... issue-y set. Grace is a good book, don't get me wrong, but that's all it was. Just a way to spend an afternoon, flipping pages, which is, I assume, not what you are supposed to feel when reading a book about a suicide bomber who decides she doesn't want to die.
Grace was an angel- raised from birth, or just after, that she would be blessed to die for the cause, to die in a fight for freedom against tyranny. But when it comes time to actually die, she places her bomb and walks away, knowing that it will go off, but that she will go 'free'. Now she is on the run and she meets up with a man at the train station, running from something himself. They talk, because sitting on a train for hours, there's not really anything else to do and both learn things that will change their lives.
I never really connected with Grace or the man she travels with. I knew that there stories were ones that should have been emotional but I never felt it. And Grace had such a disregard for life that I had a hard time with her. I understand why- When you have known your whole life that you are going to die for the cause and that it is an honor, and that your death is more important if you are able to take other lives with you- life doesn't mean the same thing as it does to most people. But it took her so long to realize that what she had done- setting that bomb and walking away- was wrong, because people still got hurt and people died. She never even thought about it. And then, there is a scene on the train when Grace should have been taken off by soldiers for being one of the rebels, but they sacrifice another, completely innocent woman instead. That's not okay with me- Your life isn't more important than anyone else's and sending innocent people to death so you can live isn't okay with me. I will say that the ending to this book was solid. Grace learns a lot about what it means to be human and it's something that will really make you think.
But, even with that solid ending, while I didn't hate this book, I didn't particularly like it either. I felt like the story was too vague. They spent the whole time talking around things and never really talked about them. If you want to try it- go for it. There are others out there who really connected to it. It's just... not for me.
On a totally different note:
So Much Closer was my first book by Susane Colasanti, and while I didn't love this particular book, I can see why so many people really love Colasanti's writing. I actually loved the way the story was written, but the story itself was a little... off for me.
Brooke has had a huge crush on Scott for years. She just knows that he is the one for her, despite only having had one, maybe two conversations with him. So, when he announces that he's moving with his family to New York City, she decides to follow him and move in with the dad she hasn't spoken to since he walked out on them 6 years ago.
Okay- Seriously?! SERIOUSLY?! Who DOES that?! Who honestly thinks that's a good idea?! I don't care who you are- that's creepy stalker behavior and NOT a good idea. Note to Brooke- also not a good idea to tell him about it... So, poor Brooke has chased this guy to New York only to realize that he barely knows who she is and he already has a girlfriend.
But luckily for Brooke, she has always wanted to live in NYC, so even though she's not with her dream guy, she's living in her dream city. And honestly, I would have liked this book so much better if the romance with Scott had been left completely out of it. Have her decide to move because Scott broke her heart (still kinda pathetic, but way less creepy) or because she has just decided to stop dreaming about living in New York and actually get there. Or, it could have been about her dad. She hasn't spoken to him in 6 years, although he has tried a few times, so maybe it's time to mend that relationship. Instead, it ended up being a convinient plot device, giving her a way to follow Scott. I felt that the story line with her father ended up being a lot of wasted potential. It could have added so much to her growth as a character, so much to the story, but instead, dad was just the facade for an apartment for Brooke to legally sleep in at night.
I had such a hard time believing in, or relating to Brooke's character, but I totally felt her love for the city. The descriptions of New York were phenomenal and just made me want to revisit the city. I spent a weekend there when I was doing an internship in Washington DC and I loved it (although, since it was February, it was really cold). I loved reading while Brooke discovered the city. I also really liked the new friends Brooke makes at school, especially John and Sadie. They brought so much to the story and I just loved reading about them, watching them form a solid friendship.
For the most part, I really enjoyed the book. EXCEPT for Scott. Seriously. If Scott had just been completely erased from the book, I think I would really have enjoyed it. They wouldn't even have to change the title, it could just mean so much closer to her dreams, instead of to some random guy. There is enough other stuff happening in the story that Scott really wouldn't have been missed much. Or, he could have been a totally different character with a much smaller part. Maybe I'll just pretend he isn't real and only remember the awesome New York scenes and the awesome times she has with the new friends she makes.