My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Initial reaction: I’ll admit I’m at a loss of words trying to write my initial thoughts in the aftermath of reading this book. It’s not so much that I didn’t find a flow to read this with ease – I actually followed along with it for a while with just a neutral perspective of it. I didn’t love the characters, but I didn’t detest them either. But the story itself could’ve easily had 300 pages shaven off it, and the reader wouldn’t have missed much. Kiera’s one of the more insufferable female protagonists I’ve come across in some time – she doesn’t know what or who she wants, and she stumbles through her relationships in an unrealistic and indecisive way. I just couldn’t feel for her situation or sentiments at all.
In the end, “Thoughtless” really didn’t appear to have much thought at all to its subject matter or characterizations. It was just one big rollercoaster of melodrama.
I’ve probably had about a dozen starts to try to sort out my sentiments on S.C. Stephens’ “Thoughtless”, but none of them measured up to the way I’m about to start this review at the present moment: with an outside reference.
“Kimi ga Nozomu Eien” this is not. Some of you might be thinking “All right Rose, why bring in an anime/Japanese ero game reference into comparison with this novel?” Well because it gives a proper comparison on how to elicit reactions from your particular audience when it comes to a love triangle and drawing appropriate tensions in that triangle.
Some of you aren’t going to know the reference, so I’ll summarize briefly without giving too many series spoilers. Basically, “Kimi ga Nozomu Eien”, which loosely translates to “The Eternity You Desire” shows the relationship of three teens attending high school together. One girl has had a long time crush on the guy, tells the other girl – her best friend, who has also been pining for the same guy, but the other girl encourages said girl to go for it. The relationship is sound, the couple seem happy, though the other girl feels at a loss while trying to maintain face.
And then tragedy strikes. And it’s not the kind of tragedy where you’re like “Oh that’s just sad” – it’s more on the level of “Holy [insert expletive of choice here], that didn’t just happen!” It’s a major emotional event that you know is going to change the dynamic of the relationships among the three from that point on even into their adulthood – because you don’t know how things are necessarily going to turn from that point on. Especially when certain turns of events come to pass and it makes the characters question the nature of their relationships and lives in totality. That’s the making of a fine story, at the very least one that elicits a response from the reader surrounding its respective cast and the turns of events. Also, you’re not completely sure of the direction its going to take until it gets to a certain point.
In the meantime, S.C. Stephens’ novel is pretty much a cut and dry novel from beginning to end, and it’s perhaps one of the most emotionally flat narratives of its type that I’ve come across. I’m not knocking it for the cheating scenario in itself, because I’ve read many a narrative that actually played the elements in a way that I could follow well. However, I could not have been more emotionally detached with this particular story. Seriously. We have a heroine (Kiera) who’s going out with her respectively sweet Aussie boyfriend (Denny, who I actually admit I liked for a time). The two end up moving in together while Kiera gets to know Denny’s roommate and friend (Kellan) who also happens to be a bonafide rock musician. I don’t know why I kept thinking Kellan’s band was a second version of Kings of Leon, and that kind of helped me through some of the scenes, but Kellan’s bandmates (especially one in particular who decides it’s fun to stick a beer bottle up a girl’s skirt *cringes*) are jerks.
The inevitable happens when Kiera cheats with Kellan after a series of events that include Denny’s prolonged absence due to work duties. You would think something would happen at that point, but a lot of this was Kiera indecisively jumping between one guy and the other and not having a very sound reason as to why. She’s possessive, clingy, immeasurably unable to move to any conclusions about what she wants in her relationship with either of the guys. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop in terms of the cheating scenario, but the narrative just went on and on for pages – not engaging and not sexy. I didn’t feel anything for Kellan and Kiera, but I felt for Denny because for all intents and purposes, he knew nothing and wasn’t really in the novel all that much comparatively speaking. This novel could’ve easily been shaved by about 300+ pages and the reader wouldn’t have missed anything, let alone I think there were far too many examples of overdescription of mundane details and uses of ellipses and adverbs. It was in serious need of editing, despite being a read that technically I flew through, but not because it was the kind of book that’s compulsively readable. I wanted to put this book down several times – it just felt emotionally flat for a good while in the narrative.
And even when the narrative starts picking up after the cheating scenario is exposed, the way the events roll after that is too farfetched. Not realistic whatsoever and I pretty much wanted to throw the book at all the characters involved. I saw the ending coming and wasn’t surprised, but neither was I rooting for any of the characters or their respective relationships. This book did not make me want to read onward in the respective series, and I felt cheated after finishing it because the narrative lacked so much coloring for what the story purported.
The bottom line: I’m not saying that a main character has to be likable or that a storyline should follow a certain formula, but if your story lacks any kind of surging emotional resonance or characters that are identifiable, it’s difficult to find a jumping point from that. “Thoughtless” didn’t seem like it required much thought or consequence at all, and it showed in the narrative. I can’t say I’ll be following this series, unfortunately.
Overall score: 1/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Simon and Schuster.