Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Delacorte Press, 2012
YA; Contemporary; Travel
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Although I don't love Hubbard's debut Like Mandarin, I did admire the writing which seemed to capture a small-town in the state of Wyoming and set the scene. But the characters weren't too my taste. Upon embarking on Wanderlove, I hoped to receive great writing and characters I loved.
Unfortunately I only got the writing, which will be epically awesome for anyone who has a passion for Central America and/or outdoors activities and/or travel in general. I have a passion for none of that. But if you do, then this is a recommended read for you; if you are left uncertain, read on for my impressions.
Main character Bria was originally planning an European tour with her two best friends to celebrate their high school graduation. But they quash that idea, having grown tired of Bria's mopiness over the loss of boyfriend Toby. Instead she impulsively books a trip to Central America and later ditches that guided tour to join backpacker Rowan.
First things first, her decision to randomly do things just about sent me in to conniptions. I am a planner and no way am I going in to a foreign country without a plan (Heck-I don't even travel to other US cities without a plan and I am good at sticking to said plans with minor adjustments as needed). I believe that failing to plan is planning to fail and in my mind getting linked to a guy with a PONY-TAIL (ew) is also definitely failing. At no point was Rowan swoonworthy despite the excitement he conjures in Bria (also fear, anger, mistrust, and lots of other emotions). Both Bria and Rowan are running from their pasts with many secrets keeping them guarded and mistrustful. There is also Rowan's sister Starling, who appears kind of snobby and flighty, but later reveals more depth although she is not a big presence in the book.
I actually ended up being more interested in the drama of Bria's emotionally controlling ex and how his words and actions sent her spiraling out of control, which is carefully doled out to us in little tidbits over the course of the story although you can figure out most of it early on. The fact that the way he condescended to her, the way he shrugged his shoulders at her favorite beach, and the ways he broke her heart were much more enthralling to me and suggestive of the fact that I like a different kind of drama than is the focus of this book.
While the characters were of little to no interest to me, the writing cannot be faulted. Apparently Hubbard used to be a travel writer and it shows with even more awesome descriptive writing than Like Mandarin. Plus there were illustrations included, referencing Bria's love of art and showing how she is able to recapture that love over the course of her journey.
Overall: Personal pet peeves kept me from the characters but the writing really is top-notch and really embeds you in the location.