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Forget You

Forget You - Jennifer Echols 2.5 starsI am going to dub this the Awkward Second Date Book. Let’s back up a moment to Going Too Far, which I read earlier this month. It was my first Echols book, and we hit it off. I spent three days with Going Too Far, and I was quite enamoured with it, in particular with Echols’ well-drawn characters and the intense chemistry that drove the story. Fast forward one chapter into my second Echols book Forget You. I found myself perplexed - giving the book a quizzical raised eyebrow. Was I drunk when I read Going Too Far? Reading through the rose-tinted glasses of book-infatuation? Pause to flick back through previous book. No – I was still feeling the charm of Meg and Johnafter’s story. And so, back to Forget You. Where was it going wrong for me? (Besides the cover, which was causing people on the tram to give me the side eye). The premise was sufficiently interesting and the plot device of Zoey’s amnesia sets the story up for the required conflicts and tension between the characters. While the withholding of information (we initially know only as much as Zoey does) is frustrating, it achieves its purpose of raising the stakes and piquing interest from the outset. Of course, readers will swiftly put two and two together and realise the majority of what has unfolded during Zoey’s lost night (perhaps not the reasons why), but it is observing the characters’ interactions as Zoey puts the pieces together that makes the plot engaging. Where this story fell down for me was the characters’ motivations and choices. I really could not understand some of the decisions Zoey made, even with the justification/explanation of the family trauma she had recently experienced. She was not an unlikeable character, I simply failed to understand her at times. (On a side note here, I freely and without qualms slap the Unlikeable Character label on Zoey’s dad. He made my blood boil. Which was probably the point.)In my opinion, the prickly, reckless Meg of Going Too Far was a more sympathetic character, despite the fact that in reality, I am probably more like Zoey. Meg’s motivations felt clearer, her actions very much in line with her character. Conversely, Zoey felt hazier to me - with none of Meg’s sharp edges, she was less defined and more difficult for me to empathise with. I did come to feel more invested in her as the book progressed, but she was never very easy for me to get a handle on. Just when I thought I understood her, she’d slip out of my grasp and do something like insist Brandon was her boyfriend, when, hello!? Brandon is a scumbag who deep down you know very well does not give a flying banana about you and there is a hot guy right in front of you who has actively shown that he cares about you! /end ranting at character.Zoey did have some moments when her strengths really shone through – case in point when she gets up in Doug’s face at the final beach party. Not that I enjoyed seeing these characters in conflict, but because I liked seeing her own her outrage, and misunderstandings aside, not let someone get away with what she perceives to be a complete betrayal of her. As Zoey gradually becomes less anaesthetized to her true feelings and gains the courage to be less in control of her life, she becomes a stronger character, and I liked seeing her develop and grow. I feel a certain amount of ambivalence over the justifications the characters made for their actions, particularly Doug. While the outcome was the one I was hoping for, some things felt conveniently brushed aside. Having said this, however, I appreciate that the outcome was not perfectly tied up, and that the characters did not undergo total personality transformations. They remained themselves, complete with flaws and issues to resolve between them. I did enjoy reading Forget You and I think that Jennifer Echols writes quite compelling teen romance (*cough hot guys cough*). On its own merits, Zoey and Doug’s story is appealing and highly readable. However, I can’t help myself, I inevitably compare it to Going Too Far. And I didn’t perceive the same raw, emotive quality in Forget You that made Going Too Far such strong book for me. Rather, Forget You felt slightly formulaic at times.So, I’m sorry, Forget You. I had a nice time, and it was fun while it lasted, but I think it’s just me, not you. Okay. That’s a bit of a lie. It kind of is you. But no hard feelings. You're a nice book. I just don’t think you’re quite the book for me.