Want an example of how not to write a romance? Try this book.
When Adam meets Robyn at a support group for kids coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder, he is drawn to her almost before he can take a breath. He’s determined to protect and defend her–to play Batman to her Robyn–whatever the cost. But when you’re fourteen and the everyday problems of dealing with divorced parents and step-siblings are supplemented by the challenges of OCD, it’s hard to imagine yourself falling in love. How can you have a “normal” relationship when your life is so fraught with problems? And that’s not even to mention the small matter of those threatening letters Adam’s mother has started to receive . . .
Teresa Toten sets some tough and topical issues against the backdrop of a traditional whodunit in this engaging new novel that readers will find hard to put down.
I think that Adam’s OCD was very well portrayed. It totally messed up his life, but it also didn’t totally define his character. Near the end of the book, you could really feel his downward spiral, and his desperation to get better. I felt sympathetic for him through about half of the story (more on the other half later).
The mystery portion of the story felt well written. It didn’t take center stage in the story- it was definitely a subplot- but it was enough to keep the tension up, which was nice. I don’t remember ever feeling like the story was dragging too badly. Without the mystery, it definitely would have dragged.
The superhero codenames were such a cute idea, too! And it was an interesting concept, too- the ultimate fake it ’til you make it.
Adam said some really icky stuff though??? Like, most of the time he was a total sweetheart but he was REALLY demeaning to girls (all girls except Robyn, of course) and he was somehow an elitist about mental illness? He would be like “I may have OCD, but at least I’m not anorexic, haha! Anorexics are the REAL crazies!!!” and it was really gross. Basically, he thought OCD was okay, but anyone who was anorexic or a hypochondriac or self harmed was “crazy”. He thought he was somehow better than everyone else in his support group.
Robyn was totally cardboard, which is weird considering that she was one of the most major characters in the story. I just didn’t GET her character. I didn’t really see any motivation for her except being in love with Adam.
This story should’ve been told in first person, and you could tell that the author felt the same way, at least subconsciously. It led to some really wacky storytelling. It was third person omnipotent most of the time, but there would be moments where she wrote things like “Adam must have nodded because…” which doesn’t make any sense??? It’s third person. There’s no “he may have nodded”. He either nodded or he didn’t nod. So… I don’t know. The voice felt weird and awkward, and it was confusing for the reader.
I WAS NOT AT ALL SOLD ON THE LOVE STORY and it makes me really angry because it had so much potential for cuteness. It was bizarre. Adam was obsessed with Robyn, in a totally unhealthy way. Their relationship was not love, it was infatuation- mostly on Adam’s side. And so little characterization was given to Robyn that it was impossible to feel any chemistry between the two of them. I’ve heard people raving about how cute this story is, and just… no??? It’s not cute??? It’s creepy as heck and totally unbelievable and I just DON’T GET IT.
It had potential to be a great story about struggling with mental illness but it was kind of ruined for me by a crappy instalove plot (not to mention Adam’s weird elitism). So… my reaction to this one is basically “no”. I’m going to be generous and give it two stars for a good premise and some redeemable parts.
Recommended for: as I said- anyone who wants advice on how not to write romance