Friday, May 15, 2015


Title: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things
Author: Ann Aguirre

Summary: Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won't peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She's learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it's working just fine...until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He's a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted. 

Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. he's got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. he doesn't expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage. 

But love doesn't mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again...

Why I read it: It looked so darn cute, and I needed a good, cute contemporary after reading so much heaviness this month.

Thoughts: I got pretty much exactly what I expected out of this book. It is a very cute, fluffy contemporary with quirky characters and a cute romance.

I finished this book a while back, and it's given me a lot of time to think about what I did and didn't like about this book. And I've come to the conclusion that this is not a bad book, not in the least. It's just not the kind of book I need.

I really liked these characters. Our main character Sage is so quirky and adorable, and it was so much fun to read from her perspective. In the first few pages, we learn that she has the nickname "Post-It Princess" at school because every day, Sage finds someone who is having a bad day and gives them a compliment on a pink Post-It note, sticking it to their locker. This was my favorite thing about Sage. It's so unique and quirky and absolutely perfect. I also enjoyed her commitment to the environment, and her refusal to ride in cars (for several reasons). I especially loved that Sage is an average girl, and she never goes through that "beautiful butterfly" transformation, noting that she was really gorgeous all along. She's just a cute teenage girl, whose butt may be a little too big for her figure. And I loved that. I related to that.

The love interest, Shane, is pretty interesting, too, though he's a little more cliched. He intrigued me a lot at first, but as the story progressed, his character fell a little flat for me. Lila, Sage's new best friend, I adored. She was definitely one of the most interesting characters in the book, with her penchant for reinventing herself to fit her friends. But she's able to be herself with Sage, and I enjoyed her sarcastic self so much.

I also really liked Sage's relationship with her aunt. There is a part near the end of the novel where they share this really poignant moment together, and it was probably my favorite part of the whole book. It made me tear up a bit, it was that lovely.

I love all these YA books set in fictional small towns. They feel so real, are so well fleshed-out, that I can see everything clearly in my head. From their school to Sage and Shane's houses, to the coffee shop. It was all perfectly described.

It's refreshing to read a book where the two main characters get together fairly early, and we get to see just how awkward a teenage relationship can be at first. That part was definitely realistic.

Now, unfortunately, onto the aspects I didn't love so much.

You might notice that the synopsis hints at some heavy topics, but I keep describing this book as cute and fluffy. That is one of my main problems with the story. One of the reasons I was drawn to this book (other than the absolutely adorable cover) was the promise of angst. I may be a glutton for punishment, but I love a good angsty book. Both Sage and Shane have dealt with some dark stuff in their pasts. In Shane's case, most of it is revealed fairly early on. But in Sage's case, it is heavily hinted at for most of the book until something happens to bring it all up again, and she finally confesses her story to Shane.

For how heavy these conversations were, I feel like it was glossed over a bit. Like, things were really bad for a few pages, but it was quickly gotten over through the power of love. For as many issues as Sage had, they didn't affect her character as much as they should have, at least in my opinion.

Sage often refers to her dark side, the product of her past, as Shadow Sage. And there a few moments when she lets Shadow Sage out to play. But whatever Shadow Sage did always felt incredibly tame in comparison to what she could have done.

This darkness really took me out of the story, because I didn't feel that the heaviness of their pasts were balanced by the the reactions and consequences. In other words: there was not enough angst. It felt too easy to get to the end of this book.

For the most part, I enjoyed the writing, but there were times when instead of just breaking the page to show the passage of time, Aguirre would very quickly summarize what was happening. Along the lines of, "We all finished dinner. Lila went home and I did the dishes. After cleaning up the kitchen, I watched TV with my aunt until it was time for bed. Then I changed into my pajamas and crawled into bed where I fell asleep until the morning." It was too much telling for me. None of those sentences were necessary to the story, and I don't need a play by play of everything that happens. This happened often in the book, but I wish it would have just been skipped over until the next piece of action.

The other thing that bothered me is a pet peeve of mine, and I didn't even realize it was my pet peeve until reading this book. The title of the book is repeated several times. Sage refers to herself as "the queen of bright and shiny things" in her narration a couple of times, and then Shane refers to her the same way in a song he writes later in the book, despite the name never having been brought up in conversation. At least as far as we see. So having the title repeated so many times within the prose was a little annoying, and something I never thought to be annoyed by before. Oh well.

Overall, it's a very cute, light book, even though the subject matter demanded a little heaviness. I would still recommend this to lovers of contemporary, especially for younger readers.

Rating: 3/5 stars

Tell me: have YOU read this book? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments below!

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