Saturday, June 16, 2012

Book Review: Twitterpated by Melanie Jacobson

Title: Twitterpated
Author: Melanie Jacobson
Enjoyment Rating: ***
Source: Kindle for iPad
Books I've read this year: 75

Once again, I spent money on a romance novel, and I blame Melanie Jacobson for it. Her Whitney finalist novels, The List and Not My Type, were so enjoyable to read and so insightful about Mormon culture that I decided I would buy her next book too.

Twitterpated takes place in Seattle, where Jessie Taylor doesn't do much but work. She certainly doesn't date-- she's not into the guys in her singles ward and, besides, she's scared off after the missionary she waited for dumped her for a sister missionary from his mission. Her roommate recognizes that Jessie is going to work herself to death without having any fun, so she secretly puts up Jessie's profile on an LDS dating website. Jessie is furious, at least until Ben's profile shows up. Ben seems to be a perfect match for Jessie-- he's handsome and gentlemanly and successful, but he quickly starts to feel jealous of Jessie's single-minded devotion to being a CPA.

I don't think there's any question that Ben and Jessie will end up together. I like this about the novel, because it's a lot like real life. These are two people who are crazy about each other, but they have to take some time to figure out how to open their lives to make room for the other person. They also both have some issues from past relationships that make them skittish about entering new relationships. Jessie is a workaholic because she hates to fail. She feels that she desperately failed when she got dumped by the missionary she'd waited for, and so she's reluctant to put herself out there and fail again. Ben was once engaged to a girl who used working as an excuse for not really being all that into him. I think these are important issues, and issues that can be interesting to read about in fiction, but I wonder if the romance genre really allows for deep exploration, because the whole thing seems wrapped up pretty quickly. Similarly, there's a really interesting side story where Jessie's roommate, who is not active in the church, goes on a self-improvement binge. After one morning going to church with Jessie's family, she seems headed back down the path toward activity. I wanted more from that side story-- it seemed too compelling to gloss it over. Finally, because the story starts with the scene where Jessie discovers her dating profile and we haven't had much of a chance to see her neuroses in action, it takes some time for a reader to adapt and see that these are big hangups for her. I felt like Ben recognized that Jessie had issues even before I as a reader did (I thought he was being kind of a whiny baby), and that would have been avoided if I'd had a better sense of her as a character before I saw her with Ben. All in all, a fun read, but this book had the potential to be a lot more than a fun read too.


FoxyJ said...

I felt the same way about this book. It was good, but it could have been so much better. I felt like the plot was fairly thin and it happened so fast. I would have liked to see more depth and more conflict. The fact that it is a romance doesn't mean it has to be so light.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I really missed the layering of her other books--this one was fun, but it felt like she needed more time to polish it and add the depth and nuance of her earlier books.

Melanie Jacobson said...

The layering wasn't there because this was actually the first novel I ever wrote, so these critiques are dead on.

Sandy's story is coming in the fall, and she's a character who demanded a deeper treatment, so we'll see if I redeem myself. Her story is my third novel, post-The List, and I think I learned some stuff by then.

And trust me, if you think Twitterpated was, um, not on par with my two last year, you should have seen it BEFORE I reworked it from its original. It was like polishing a, well . . . ahem . . . you know.

(Also I would have emailed you this privately because I think it's kind of weird for authors to comment on reviews about their work, but I couldn't find an email for you, so forgive me if now I'm that one weirdo author. Totally don't mean to be. I'm so distant from this book since I've completed five more manuscripts since turning it in that it feels like someone else wrote it, so it's pretty easy for me to sit back and discuss it objectively. And fun too, when the reviews are honest. Usually everyone's super nice, but I know the truth: I fixed it as much as I could but it's still just an okay book. Not great, but fun, and I'm okay with that.)