Friday, February 18, 2011

Review - MAD LOVE

Mad Love - Suzanne Selfors
Genre: YA Fantasyish/Paranormal
# of pages: 336
Recommended for: HS & Beyond
Publisher: Bloomsbury Walker
I received a copy of MAD LOVE in exchange for an honest review from the publishers

When you're the daughter of the bestselling Queen of Romance, life should be pretty good. But 16-year-old Alice Amorous has been living a lie ever since her mother was secretly hospitalized for mental illness. After putting on a brave front for months, time is running out. The next book is overdue, and the Queen can't write it. Alice needs a story for her mother—and she needs one fast. That's when she meets Errol, a strange boy who claims to be Cupid, who insists that Alice write about the greatest love story in history: his tragic relationship with Psyche. As Alice begins to hear Errol's voice in her head and see things she can't explain, she must face the truth—that she's either inherited her mother's madness, or Errol is for real.
The cool thing about this book is that I read it in one sitting. No matter what happened over the course of the story, it definitely kept my interest.
Mad Love's main character is Alice Amorous, and I thought she made a fine heroine. She was a good combination of sass and sweetness, and I thought she held her own very well against all the crazies around her. She's a character that really does seem to have it all together: when she makes a mistake or shows a lapse in good judgment, it's more because of her circumstances than who she is as a person. There was something very cheer-worthy about her, and I had a pretty easy time relating to her. Unfortunately, her story didn't seem all that realistic to me. I just had a hard time believing that any young adult other than, say, Christopher Paolini could write a book and have it be passed off as the product of a prolific bestselling author. My "Yeah Right" radar was buzzing all over the place. I guess the story elements were a little too "out there" for me. Like, nearly everybody is sick, or dying, or has something wrong with them (eating disorder, bipolar disorder, cancer, etc). In my opinion, very few books can get away with that much "drama" and it just seemed like with Mad Love, there were too many things going on.
As for the love story (Errol's story, that is)...I think I'm just getting tired of love stories that have to be so hard. So depressing. Not that I like the other extreme - where everything's butterflies, rainbows, and boy band songs - but...Errol's character and his story didn't work for me. He reminded me too much of this other guy in YA fiction that I kind of have an issue with (name rhymes with Mace Fayland). When it comes to love interests, I have two tolerable types: the genuinely good-natured, loyal, respectful/respectable, slightly-innocent guy, or the hardened-exterior, attitude-that-masks vulnerability brooder-with-a-heart-of-gold.
And Errol wasn't either of those. Plus he really gave off a creepy vibe that I never really got over...
Above all, the premise of Mad Love is built around the idea that the traditional myth of Cupid and Psyche is wrong/not the whole story. See, I kind of loooove the myth of C&P, it's actually my favorite of the Greco-Roman myths, most of which, if you haven't noticed, are just bummer sad.
I think that's why I loved the C&P myth so much - it's one of the very few that has a happy ending (and also became the basis for the fairytale Beauty and the Beast - another *love*!). But this story, that's kinda messed with. The story of Mad Love was definitely creative and interesting, but I guess I'm just too much a fan of the original myth. And in all honesty, that's probably why the story just didn't make a fan out of me.
The good news is, though, that most of you probably don't feel the same way I do. In that case, there's nothing keeping you from potentially loving this book. I must say, I highly admire Suzanne Selfor's writing style: she's one of those who knows the precise combination of show-and-tell in writing, and I think she has tremendous storytelling skills :)

Final Grade:
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