Monday, April 15, 2013

Book Review: Ten Tiny Breaths by K.A. Tucker

It's been four years since Kacey's parents, best friend, and boyfriend were killed in a devastating car accident.  Kacey was also in the car and was seriously injured, both physically and emotionally.  When her uncle and guardian begins to show an unhealthy interest in her younger sister, Livie, Kacey and her sister flee to Miami.  There, life finally seems to start to come together for the sisters.  They make friends in their apartment complex, and Kacey becomes involved with her handsome neighbor Trent.  But she must eventually deal with her scars from the past and Trent is hiding some of his own secrets.

Ok, so this was my second foray into New Adult, after having read Beautiful Disaster (which was, by the way its own disaster).  Since I absolutely loathed Beautiful Disaster, I was hesitant to give the genre another try.

[Also, can I just say that I do not understand the genre?  It's basically just YA with sex, right?  Or contemporary romance with characters in their 20's?  I mean, I'm cool with it being a thing, but it just seems like a fairly arbitrary delineation.]

Anyway, so the writing.  It was...meh.  I mean, the whole plot and all the twists and turns it takes was just so far out of the realm of believability I'm not sure how to describe it.  There were all kinds of crazy coincidences and the "twist" ending I saw coming from a mile away.

That's not to say I didn't enjoy the book (see Entertainment Value).  So this is where the genre thing kind of matters to me, I guess.  Is the book supposed to be a contemporary "issue" book?  If so, I think it failed in some regards, as I didn't believe the characters were real and their issues were so far removed from reality that it was hard to imagine.  But if it's supposed to be contemporary romance, then whether or not I believe it's real becomes much less of an issue for me.  I may not believe the characters are real, but I like them and I loved the romance, so for a contemporary romance I think the book succeeded.

Entertainment Value
Another complex issue for me.  Because I have to say that I LOVED the experience of reading this one.  It was romantic and twisty and the characters were all sympathetic and I cared about them.  I got a lot of pleasure out of reading it.

But I was again (as I have been several times lately) distracted by the portrayal of the sex industry.  This is not a spoiler, by the way.  Early in the book Kacey befriends her neighbor who is a stripper/bartender and takes a job tending the bar at the strip club.  And it's shown as this wonderful experience where she meets the loving and protective bouncers and the heart of gold club owner and all of the strippers are empowered and happy with their lives.

So I mentioned a few posts back that while this may be the odd anecdotal case, the majority of women in the sex industry are not there because they have so many other options and just choose to strip for the fun of it.  And I think this kind of portrayal of the industry is A) very privileged (the true stories of women who strip/prostitute for fun, you will notice, are almost exclusively white and educated) and B) damaging to the women who are forced into it either by trafficking or by lack of options.

Anyway, I'm going to write a long post on that when I finally sort out my feelings on the issue.  Because the truth is that it really turns me off to a book -but at the same time, I've actually quite enjoyed several books where this happens apart from that aspect.  I'm trying to decide how I feel about books that I feel like promote an ideal that I disagree with, but that I enjoy anyway, if that makes sense.

The big book in my online book club right now is Hopeless.  If you liked Hopeless, you'll love Ten Tiny Breaths.  I think it will also appeal to those who read YA and wish it were more...mature.  There are definitely sex scenes as well as language and other situations you won't find in most YA, so you should be aware of that up front.  I also think this will appeal to fans of contemporary romance, especially contemporary romance that is a bit grittier.

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