Book Review: Sad Girls by Lang Leav

Title: Sad Girls
Author: Lang Leav
Published: May 30, 2017
Pages: 362
Language: English
Goodreads summary: Your first love isn’t the first person you give your heart to—it’s the first one who breaks it.

School is almost out for Audrey, but the panic attacks are just beginning. Because Audrey told a lie and now her classmate, Ana, is dead. Just as her world begins to spin out of control, Audrey meets the enigmatic Rad—the boy who could turn it all around. But will their ill-timed romance drive her closer to the edge?

Thoughts

Possible spoilers ahead!

I was looking forward to reading this so, I requested it from my library as soon as possible and finished it in a couple of days. Altogether it only took me a couple of hours, not including breaks, to finish.

I wanted so much for this book to be something raw and relatable like Lang’s proses, but I can’t deny I had a suspicion that wouldn’t end up being the case, that I was asking for too much. Apparently, I was. I kept in mind Sad Girls was Lang Leav’s first novel, but even that was enough to keep me from feeling disappointed and being critical.

Character development is lacking.

The main character Audrey is a well-off teenager and an only child, her biggest problem is her mother, they’re relationships has been strained since her mother left her and her father only to come back some years before the novel takes place. A reasonable conflict that most teens can relate to when it comes to their parents, but this plot point is only emphasized in the first half of the book, set up to seem like something could happen, but it never does. She also has an angst-based relationship with one of her two closest friends who spirals into drugs and there’s no real closure; her friend just comes back one day and is like, I’m sober and getting married, I’d like to invite you. I even have a headache just recalling this tidbit. Audrey has some amazing stroke of luck in landing an internship right out of high school at a magazine publisher simply because she knew the nephew of the Editor-in-Chief. Well, okay, but if I’m a prominent magazine with numerous rewards I’m not going to go off only on my nephew’s word; it’s unrealistic. I don’t get the sense of her doom. I don’t see the conflict she will have to overcome, making it difficult to choose what information to keep and what’s simply in passing.

None of the other characters truly left an impression on me. I had to make note of who was who with one-liners like: the “perfect” character, the “manager” friend, or the “most interesting” friend for a temporary love rival trope, but let’s throw him away for the old flame trope.

The plot was so vague my eyes could’ve rolled into the back of my head from how many times I unfocused from the book.

Going off the lack of character development I didn’t get any feeling of progression. I just couldn’t. I was being told more than I was being shown. So, point A was suddenly point C and I would miss point D and E if I wasn’t pausing to think. Many time I thought I could be more lenient and chalk it up to being Lang’s first attempt at a novel, but I think her writing is “stuck” in prose that it’ll be a one-eighty to change her style in her next novel, if she chooses to do so.

Name dropping hurts my soul (& setting)

At first I gave the brand dropping a pass thinking it was the beginning of the story and that’s where it’s always rough to step into a new world. I hate to say it ruined the rest of the book for not naming dropping other things, like social media. All of which is rarely mentioned which is strange because Audrey and her friends are young adults. Instead, this spoils to taste in my mouth about how they all communicate with a phone and much less with texting. Sure, not everyone has to use texting or Twitter, but you’d think if your drug addicted friend is missing some element of trying to find their Facebook account to see how they are would play a hand in your search. There was just- a lot of questions I had, and all of them curbed my enjoyment of the book. I had nothing but suburban New Zealand for a setting. I had to rely on cliches to make up the rest of the setting cause all I had were names I didn’t want to be bothered to look up to see if they were real.

All in all, I don’t recommend this book. It was a disappointment. My final verdict is that it’s easy-reading, but if you’re looking for substance you’re better off moving on. This book read as an indie movie plays; everything happens just to happen. I’ve put more time into this review than I wanted to so if it lacks anything it lacks anything.

Book Review: Sea of Strangers by Lang Leav

Title: Sea of Strangers
Author: Lang Leav
Published: January 9, 2018
Pages: 224
Language: English
Goodreads summary: Sea of Strangers by Lang Leav picks up from her previous international bestselling books including Love & MisadventureLullabies, and The Universe of Us, and sets sail for a grand new adventure.

This completely original collection of poetry and prose will not only delight her avid fans but is sure to capture the imagination of a whole new audience. With the turn of every page, Sea of Strangers invites you to go beyond love and loss to explore themes of self-discovery and empowerment as you navigate your way around the human heart.

Thoughts

Before I dive into this let me say that I never had any intentions to read this book. I found myself looking at it in Barnes and Nobles and since I was going to be there for a while, why not? I don’t normally read poetry because of how personal it can be, but because I’ve enjoyed some of Lang’s prose on her instagram I decided it couldn’t hurt to see other pieces.

What made me gravitate towards the book in the first place was the cover. The title is printed in a soft, coral pink over a denim blue backdrop which strangely worked. Usually, these two colors would clash, but here they created a comfortable ambiance; it feels almost nostalgic to what I’d consider an 80’s color scheme. Also depicted on the cover is a young woman, alluding to the protagonist and possibly a stand-in of Lang herself. I felt particularly drawn in because of her short bob cut and Asian-inspired fashion so, I also felt it was me on the cover. It wasn’t hard to find out the artist of said picture is GG, ohgigue.com. The cover itself was soft, a kind of matte texture that made it soothing to touch, nothing like the slippery gloss cover books tend to opt for.

As for the book itself it’s a collection of prose and poetry so, I was able to finish it in one sitting. The writing was not difficult to read and each piece except for one only took up a single page, specifically the right hand side. The one that took up two pages were printed facing each other. Lang doesn’t make any extreme choices in formatting, they’re very short paragraphs or a string of few lines. I appreciated that because poetry being visual is rarely an interest for me. The themes that run throughout are love, heartbreak, and relationships with the individual and the world. The few that stuck out to me were the ones that Lang has personally posted on her Instagram such as Once in Love:

I don’t think you need to be in love to write. But you had to have been once.

It’s these simple lines that strike a chord with you because it’s so vague it can apply to almost anyone anywhere in their lifetime.  I connected with Once in Love because I’ve been wondering how I can create worlds and characters when I myself am cooped up inside my head. Sure, I can write it, but to write it without truly feeling it once seems ridiculous. It feels fake, and that’s how I read this two-line prose.

Lang’s writing ultimately speaks to the current generation of artists, poets and writers. We grapple with this idea of uniqueness, but struggle to reflect it when the answer, like Lang’s writing, is simple. Struggle, struggle some more, but in the end when you’re tired and done, you find being yourself is the best course.

From me, I give this collection a 5 out of 5. I can appreciate the collection’s ability to make me reflect often, but it can get mentally tiring so the only thing I have to say is read it with breaks. Maybe that’s how you should read poetry and prose collections, but again, I’m a novel reader.

You can purchase the collect Sea of Strangers on Lang Leav’s site.