Saturday, October 20, 2012
The Fine Art of Truth or Dare, by Melissa Jensen
Jensen can certainly write lively and witty prose. She gets her details right: this Philadelphia is pitch perfect and instantly recognizable. The characters are amusing, if uninspiring. And the story has its moments -- many of them completely random (e.g., swimming with sharks -- you'll have to read it yourself to get that one!). There is one very striking and memorable scene (on page 353 -- if you need a prompt) that will stick with me.
However, the book is so busy! Having a few good hits won't make up with the sheer chaotic nature of the storytelling. The characters are largely stereotypes. Alex is a pretty boy without much of a personality (I'm terribly amused by other reviewers who describe him as "cute" -- how can you tell from a book?). He says all the right things and seems pretty boring. The father, grandmother, and a bitter archivist are forgettable tropes. The exception is Ella, who gets some moments to shine. It's a comfortable read but largely insignificant.