Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Book Review: Yesterday's News by Kajsa Ingemarsson

I actually got this book randomly because it popped up on the Nook blog and yes I know I'm linking to the Kindle version. Maybe you didn't realize, but I link to these products through an Amazon Associates link so that maybe one day somebody will click on one and buy something and then I'll get a little bit of money to help me run this little blog. As far as I know, B&N doesn't do something like that, so even though I have a Nook, I link to Amazon. Besides, I actually get Kindle books too, I just read them on my computer.

Anyway, my point was that this wasn't a book I sought out for any particular reason, it just kind of landed on my radar unexpectedly. The review said it was one of the most popular books in Sweden, and it was on sale for only $1.99 so I figured why not?

First off, I'm starting to think that books should come with warnings the way that fanfiction does. I thought I would read a happy, fun, happy ending-filled "chick lit" book (yes I hate the term chick lit as much as you do but what else am I going to call it?) and instead, well...I got kind of that and then got completely blindsided by an intensely tragic part in the middle that hit me on the wrong kind of day. But at least the tragedy in the middle is well written and more or less has a bearing on the overall plot, so that's something.

But in the end, I wasn't particularly pleased with Yesterday's News. It wasn't a terrible book by any stretch of the imagination, but there was so much that just wasn't all that great either. The central plot is that Agnes, who is the head waitress at a posh restaurant and good at her job, gets fired when she refuses to submit to the sexual harassment of her lecherous boss. When she calls her rock musician boyfriend to complain about it, he dumps her for another musician, all in the same day.

Eventually, Agnes gets a chance to help a friend open a new restaurant and she pins all her hopes and dreams on it's possible success. Mixed up in there is also the possibility of a review by the leading restaurant critic, and also a new neighbor that she doesn't particularly get along with because he's too boring, or something, I couldn't ever figure out what her real problem with him was.

Listen, I think we can all get from the beginning to the end of this story without a lot of trouble. We all know exactly where it's going to end up and the plot twist isn't even remotely surprising. What is surprising is the route the book takes to get there, which was a bit meandering, stopped off in a slightly preachy section with a subplot, and took a detour right through the "apologizing for the abusive ex while you're getting back together with him because he's totally changed" village.

And that was my problem with the story overall. If you plotted Agnes' growth and character development based on strength/empowerment and weakness/being manipulated then it'd be all over the map. It's not an arc or an orchestrated roller coaster ride, it's an uneven bouncy ball on cobblestone. And then, at the end of the story rather than resolving the questions that the author has set up, especially those about Agnes and her ability to not only survive by herself but also to stand up to being abused and manipulated, the author just...stops.

Listen, the book is absolutely worth the $1.99 I paid for it. And if you like this kind of story (I was reminded of No Reservations, the movie with Catherine Zeta Jones, on a lot of different levels, and that's a compliment) then it's probably well worth the money for the regular priced ebook as well, and the few hours of your time it takes to read it. I'm not saying it's a terrible book, I just really think that if they adapt it to a movie there's going to be a lot of scene rearranging and a few characters are going to get dumped so that the structure works better and we can be a little more forgiving when the main character reverses direction entirely 2/3 of the way through the book before getting back on the right track in the last ten pages.