Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Second Chance by Jane Green

1.5 Star

When an old friend is killed in a terrorist attack, four estranged school friends reunite at his memorial service and begin on a journey reevaluating their lives. Holly, a mother of two, married to a workaholic. A director at an animal shelter, Olivia suffers from loneliness. Paul is a writer whose marriage is suffering from the inability to conceive and Saffron is an alcoholic actress having an affair with a mega star. 

 Lydia - 1 Star

I usually love all of Jane Green’s work, but Second Chance one falls way short for me. It falls so short I had to give it a 1 Star rating and I hate being so negative because I know it’s not easy to write a novel or edit one I’m sure and this seemed to be lacking both.

My biggest complaint with Second Chance is the narration jumped and skipped all over the place so I couldn't keep track of whose voice I was listening too. I’m pretty sure I’ve never had to backtrack as much with any other book because of this. A chapter towards the end of the book started with Olivia’s voice and two paragraphs later switched to Holly’s voice and continued with her. I wasn’t sure why Olivia’s voice was even necessary in that spot and had to reread it several times to see if I missed something. I didn’t. I’m also not sure why some of the voices were needed, like Will’s mother who piped in for a few thoughts and then disappeared.

There were no characters I could relate to, or even like and there was absolutely no humor whatsoever in this novel. Not once did I laugh or crack a smile and had a hard time picking up the book to continue. Jane Green writes chick lit, and if this is her attempt to change it up, in my opinion it was not a success. The emotion didn’t seem genuine and jumped from grief to giddiness in seconds and I wasn’t sure how I felt about the whole premise including the terrorist angle. Why not just kill Tom off in an accident? It seemed that it should have come back to that, but never did – where was the outrage and anger that he was killed in this manner?

I’m a big plot girl, and although it seemed overall like a lot happened, nothing really did. There was too much description of events and feelings told by the characters viewpoints, especially in the beginning of the book and no action. The only major plot movement was in the latter part of the book and then at the end where there was suddenly a huge jump forward in time and all their lives had moved on. Unfortunately we missed seeing how they came to make the decisions they did, which I think would have been much more important, not to mention more interesting, than the repetitive description and narration in the beginning of the book.

I really hate to do this, but I have to rate Second Chance as a 1 Star. I can’t see any other way around it and can only say to skip this one and read some of her others, specifically Jemima J, which is a classic and one of my favourites, Bookends and Swapping Lives.

Kathryn - 2 Star

I am happy to say that this offering of marriage lit didn’t lose me as completely as Green’s The Beach House.

I was completely taken in by the storyline at the beginning of the novel and felt the emotions of the characters at the loss of their friend. Tom was the person that had been holding their past together and that each one of them needed that common past to be able to create their new futures. When Tom is killed in a terrorist attack they are reunited and work out their next steps.

I think I related to this story particularly as I lived in a few places when I was growing up and left some amazing friends in other countries, so it pulled a bit at my own emotions of leaving someone behind (although I have never had to endure the pain of a friend actually dying). Some of these friends are the only ones who know about these little pieces of me, especially me at 15! These parts of my life are central to the person that I am today and it made me dig up some of my past and I laughed about things they did in their pasts.

I did find the actual reading of Second Chance a bit laboured in parts. The voices do come in and out a lot and I had to try to pin them down to understand what I was reading. I also found that towards the middle it became more difficult to read but I’m not sure I can put a finger on why that was. Perhaps I just became bored with the main character?
When I got to the last chapter I was very surprised to find it all neatly tied up and done. It was far too wrapped up for me, if Green wanted to end with an epilogue perhaps it could have been titled as such? Or at least we could have been given a hint that we’d moved into the future?

Generally I think I liked the read as it took me down memory lane but wouldn’t read it again.

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