Saturday, August 18, 2007

Better Than Yesterday, by Robyn Schneider

Charley and Skylar have been in academic competition during their years at Hilliard Prep, but the quest for academic excellence has not made them happy. Charley is trying to convince his ambitious parents to let him pursue his dream of music, rather than theirs (medicine). Skylar is living down a reputation acquired in freshman year. Both of them (against their preconceptions) are fighting their attraction for each other. In the background are Marissa and the troubled Blake.

The book is engaging but suffers from what I call the first-novel syndrome. Schneider has a lot of good ideas and want to cram them all into the same book. That leaves a lot of plot undeveloped and also subjects the reader to a bunch of random thoughts and musings. These ideas are frequently clever but they strain the narrative. Finally, skip the last chapter. While the book is enjoyable, Schneider feels an unnecessary obligation to tie everything up at the end with a rushed afterward. You'll be happier if you skip it and use your imagination instead.

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