Wednesday, May 15, 2013

ARC Review: September Girls


September Girls by Bennett Madison
2/5 stars
HarperTeen, 2013
256 pages
YA Contemporary Magical Realism
Scheduled to release May 21

Source: Received an e-ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This book wasn't really on my radar until I noticed that Maggie Stiefvater had praised it, which immediately got my attention and made me want to check this out. Then the negative reviews started pouring in and I got nervous. I felt like I owed the publisher and author a chance though so I picked the book up and tried to look for the "magical realism" aspects I had read about and find some redeeming features but I am going to have to go in the negative category for this book as well.

The publisher is HarperTeen, an imprint with which I have had much success, finding their offerings compulsively readable. This title is more literary than commercial in my opinion and to my dissatisfaction. I could barely get through its boring non-plot. Adding to my distaste is how it conforms to my reductive view of a lot of modern literary fiction: to wit, a white male is obsessed with his magical penis because that is weirdly at the heart of this story. Compounding the plot problems was the language, which is extremely profane.

I did find some parts of interest like the strands of the relationship between the main character's parents but it was so haphazardly woven in that it was easy to glide right past. There is a bit of a love story but it's unlikely to appeal to romantics-I find it spectacularly unengaging.

In conclusion, do not pick this book up expecting a fun summer beach read as it is nothing of the sort despite what the cover might suggest. I cannot in good conscience recommend this to anyone although I am sure there will be people who have the exact opposite taste of me and love it (to each her own!) Somehow I managed to finish reading this book, probably due to a doggedness that does not let me quit easily.

Other Opinions:
Novel Sounds-discussed the magical realism aspect
Finding Bliss in Books-excellent negative review (also links to other great pannings)
Blkosiner's Book Blog-managed to come up with some good things about the book

28 comments:

  1. Magical penis!? *snorts* That sounds like an invite for many bad jokes :D

    I've seen a few negative reviews for September Girls, and oddly, it makes me want to pick up the book and see what's the deal.

    Thanks for the honest review!

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    1. It was so ridiculous and infuriating-if you pick it up, I hope you manage to make something positive of the experience.

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  2. Lol! Magical penis. I fell out laughing. This so doesn't sounds like a book that I would like, don;t know if I could push through it either. Thanks for sharing your honest thoughts.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

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    1. It wasn't that funny while I was reading but as I talk with the blogging community, I'm finding the humor. This book just was not my thing.

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  3. I've read some negative reviews before and I decided that this book doesn't sound like something I'd enjoy. I'm sorry to hear it was so disappointing!

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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    1. If I had read those negative reviews before requesting, I wouldn't have bothered. I didn't think it was my thing but Maggie Stiefvater praised it so I thought that would be sufficient.

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  4. LOL! Really? Hmmm... Wow. Well I do not have the words. I certainly won't bother.

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    1. Yes, I would definitely NOT recommend this one.

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  5. Sorry you didn't enjoy either. I guess it will be for some people.

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    1. You were so sweet in your review to find the positive-I really enjoyed it!

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  6. This book... is an interesting case study, we think. As you say, it's more literary than commercial, but the marketing hasn't really explained it well, so readers go in with different expectations. Furthermore, what is the target audience for a book like this? Not the typical YA readers, it would seem. And yet so many YA authors have praised it, so... where's the disconnect? We don't necessarily have the answers, but we feel like someone should. And perhaps the fact that no one seems to be really clear on it is the reason it's such a polarizing read.

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    1. I wish I could like this comment a gazillion times-thank you for giving me so much to think about!

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  7. "a white male is obsessed with his magical penis"

    Okay, that had me spitting out tea on my keyboard.

    When a book gets negative reviews, my curiosity is piqued, because my taste often goes outside the boundaries of typical YA.

    However, I took a pass on this months ago, both on Edelweiss and an ARC tour, because it sounded too mermaid-y. I LOVE literary fiction but not the navel-gazing (or penis worshipping) variety. And I am really not much of a fan of magical realism. So it sounds like my instincts were right...

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    1. Your instincts were right-mine didn't think I'd like it either but I ignored them. My mistake!

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  8. MAGICAL PENIS? Ewwww. That's really weird. o.O I'm sorry that you didn't like this one, girly. I'm not sure that I'll pick it up now. Awesome review, though!

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    1. I would definitely warn you away from this book-it's really bad.

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  9. Thank you so much for your honest review :) I must admit that I never wanted to read this book, despite the gorgeous cover. And now I know that I never will. Have seen so many negative reviews of it. And reading yours too, and the reasons for why, yeah. This book is not for me :) You are awesome for managing to finish it, though ;) Thank you for sharing. <3

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    1. I think I only managed to finish this due to sheer stubbornness-I should have listened to the negative reviews that came before me.

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  10. I have not heard of this one before, but I'm sorry you didn't enjoy it as much. A ya book extreme profane language is not good in my book. Some is okay to me, but a lot is too much! lol and a magical penis? That just cracked me up! Great review :)

    Janina @ Synchronized Reading

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    1. It was so not what I wanted but glad I made you laugh :)

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  11. I hadn't heard of this one at all, but it seems like one to avoid. Yikes! :S

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    1. I'm surprised you haven't seen the negative buzz for this one but rest assured that many others have been spreading the word to avoid this title.

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  12. Whew. Nice to read your review about this. I heard the author read a portion of it at a reading in March, and I was bored. :( I felt horrible but I was just not getting it and the premise sounded so great. (Love the outer banks too!)

    I don't have much to say to follow up. I applaud you for giving it a chance though, and writing such a well-explained review of it. :)

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    1. I think there was some potential in the concept but that it horribly failed in the execution.

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  13. I remember people wanting this one at ALA and they didn't have many copies. Now I have started seeing lots of negative reviews of it and I'm relieved I never got it. I gotta say, it just sounds weird!

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    1. I never would have picked this up if not for those initial praises from trusted sources-I should have waited for my fellow book bloggers to weigh in as it would have saved me a lot of time.

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  14. Yep, I felt the same way about this one. It would've been better if he had dropped the weird paranormal storyline in my opinion and just focused on the contemporary, coming of age story of Sam. Can't believe Maggie Stiefvater gave this one a favorable rating. Wow.

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    1. I would never have requested it if I hadn't seen her approval-totally steered me wrong.

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