Friday, 22 January 2016

BOOK REVIEW: NOVEMBER 9 BY COLLEEN HOOVER



Fallon meets Ben, an aspiring novelist, the day before her scheduled cross-country move. Their untimely attraction leads them to spend Fallon’s last day in L.A. together, and her eventful life becomes the creative inspiration Ben has always sought for his novel. Over time and amidst the various relationships and tribulations of their own separate lives, they continue to meet on the same date every year. Until one day Fallon becomes unsure if Ben has been telling her the truth or fabricating a perfect reality for the sake of the ultimate plot twist.





"My mother raised me with more tact than this, but what my mother failed to teach me is that there would be girls like this one who would test those manners by merely existing."


I was a naive little trumpet when I first alighted upon CoHo's books. I'd only just discovered that romance can be of the non-Sparks variety at the time, and I'd only just discovered New Adult, and CoHo was my senpai, my mentor, my Pai Mei. She initiated me into NA.


I've since just about broken up with New Adult. But I didn't think I'd broken up with CoHo herself.

Following Confess and now November Nine, I think it's safe to say that NA and I need to go on an exclusive break. Not the Ross-and-Rachel break, either - an official one. Just leave me here in the fantasy section. This is my home. These are my people. And dragons. Dragons keep me safe from the cheese.

Why, you ask, does one abandon their senpai? 'Tis a good question indeed, grasshopper.

November Nine isn't a very bad book. Unlike Confess, for which I'm still tempted to perform an exorcism, November Nine is quite easy to get through and not at all impossible to enjoy. But alas, I am a NA veteran. I've seen too much of the good, the bad and the terribly clichéd. And I saw it all again in this book.

But first, coffee! (And also, the good parts.)

+        It's a book within a book. 'Tis a personal draw of mine, and one of the easiest ways to sell me on a book. I'm even easier when it comes to books about authors and the writing process. Which November Nine to a point also is.
+        It can be a fast read. As far as Colleen Hoover books go, this is one of the least "heavy" reads, and not as heavy on the trauma-and-loss aspect that a lot of the other ones bring to the forefront.
+        The concept isn't original, but it's one not often used. CoHo always strives for some semblance of concept originality, and boy, do I applaud her for it. She, however, doesn't offer much content originality therein. (Apart from Never Never. For better or for worse, Never Never is my baby and I shall protect it with my... well, not life, but I'll give it a really fancy dragonhide armor if it's in danger of becoming extinct or clichéd.)
+        Good CoHoisms! To all who have encountered Colleen Hoover's work in the past, these will be all too familiar. The dialogue is snappy. The overall writing is solid. The pacing is well-done, to a point. Bring forth the vuvuzelas!

Or not.

-         On the flip side, this book-about-books is SO VERY META! In and of itself, this doesn't have to be a bad thing. But in November 9, it really didn't work for me. Given that Ben, the love interest, is writing the same book that Colleen is writing herself, half the time Ben's rants about how this is "an original, never-done-before concept" and about how "instalove is bad, except in this case when it's more real than usual and therefore okay" just felt like Colleen Hoover herself was trying to excuse away the many clichés and convince me of the book's value. There's authors speaking to you, and then there's authors speaking directly AT you.
-         Fallon and Ben aren't terribly... human? Not that they are dragons. I wish they were dragons. What they actually are is a strange blend of inconsistency, familiar NA tropes, and senseless decisions. Their pasts abound in larger-than-life secrets and tragedies (because, apparently, this is now a must in NA), they alternate between making terrible life choices, and occasionally they fall into a pit trap of truly awkward exchanges. And having gone through these extraordinary circumstances, they often act in ways no regular 18/19/20 year-old would act - all of which makes it very difficult to relate to either.
-         Bad CoHoisms. On an entirely personal note, I didn't find these to be as glaring as they were in Confess. But they reared their unpleasant hides every so often, and they were difficult to swallow. There's the gay-stereotyping. The slut-shaming. The misogyny. The truly-problematic-guy hailed as a romantic hero.
-         Magical realism? Except not really. There was nothing inherently magical about this book, whatever Ben would have you believe. But the fact is that Ben and Fallon's lives are so hard to buy into, and so far-removed from any reality I can think of, that at times I thought this book would have worked better if it had been marketed towards the paranormal crowd - where THIS extreme level of bombshells and drama and completely senseless actions is explained away with EVIL MAGIC MADE ME DO IT.
-         Rushed ending. Much as I was glad to reach it, I did find the ending to have come entirely too fast in a manner entirely too haphazard for my liking. In the end, I was left with that nagging thought of "This is one of those couples who go on to fight daily and break up in a year, tops." Which isn't necessarily something you want out of a romance novel.

Now, having said all this, for lovers of NA out there, is this a book to be avoided? Absolutely not. But is it a book that made it clear that NA and I are overdue for a long hiatus?






Forgive me, New Adult. It's entirely possible that it's-not-you-it's-me. I guess we just have to see other people for a while. Don't judge me, please!

Talk to us, lovelies! What was your favorite Colleen Hoover book? Have you read any yet? And if you have a different take on November 9, we are more than open to it. I feel like this is one of those books I could have been persuaded to like, had I seen it through a different set of eyes. But alas, mine seem to be firmly lodged in there. They can't be replaced.

4 comments:

  1. Darn. I am still excited to read CoHo, but I am sorry you didn't enjoy it. :( I haven't read any NA, and I am a little nervous.

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    1. Really, don't let this review put you off, Audrey! Chances are EXCELLENT that you'll enjoy it if you aren't a NA veteran. This was just one of those things for me where I've read it all five hundred thousand times before. CoHo herself has done it well in the past. Most likely this is a case of oversaturation for me. If you're going to choose anyone to dip your toes into NA, I'd still go with Colleen. At the beginning of 2015, Natalie and I were swearing by her. So to a NA fledgling, it might turn out to be a WAY different experience. And needless to say, I'll be STALKING your blog for that impending review. ;)

      - Lexie

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  2. Awww, I'm sad you didn't enjoy it. I usually really enjoy CoHo's books and have only really been disappointed by Confess, which just didn't work for me. I did enjoy November 9 though, even when it went a little bit ridiculous.

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    1. I was STUPEFIED when I hated Confess. Truly, I was in shock. At the beginning of 2015, Natalie and I made a post about our Auto-Buy Authors for one of our Top 10s and we were just SWEARING BY COLLEEN. We said we'd buy and read her grocery lists. And then Confess came and I disliked it so, so, so, so much. And then Natalie did, too. By those standards, November 9 wasn't that bad at all. But, really, I guess I just need to take a step back from NA. CoHo and I might reunite down the line. And I'm honestly glad to hear that so many of my friends DID enjoy November 9, even after the trainwreck that was Confess. <3 I can see why, truly. I just need that break myself.

      - Lexie

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