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Nessa's Thoughts

Just a British girl who reads a bit too much.

Currently reading

The Dead Zone
Stephen King
The Diving Bell And The Butterfly
Jean-Dominique Bauby
Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady
Samuel Richardson, Angus Ross
Orange Is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison
Piper Kerman
The Cuckoo's Calling
Robert Galbraith
The Boyfriend List - E. Lockhart I feel kind of bad reviewing this book, to be honest. I feel like I should be laughing at Ruby's cynicisms, her kooky upbringing, her general teenage girl-isms... but I didn't. It's a shame, really, because it's clearly delighted quite a few of my friends. Maybe I'm just not into chick-lit. Who knows.Anyway, The Boyfriend List: 15 Guys, 11 Shrink Appointments, 4 Ceramic Frogs, And Me, Ruby Oliver is about just that. A girl named Ruby Oliver who has been romantically involved with 15 guys over the course of her life. These romances are anything from the other kids at primary school making up a rumour that you're going out after you became friends, to talking with a high school boy, to having a rumour started about you and another high school boy, covering both long and short-term relationships.Since Ruby has had a nervous breakdown followed by several panic attacks due to recent events, her mother sends her to a psychiatrist, who Ruby refers to as Doctor Z. Ruby doesn't really know what to do with her life, but she does know that the main problems in her life are to do with her social circle, her cloying parents, and the string of failed romances left in her wake. Doctor Z chooses to focus on Ruby's romantic life, and the novel is basically Ruby's boyfriend list.The book has an odd way of pacing itself, that's for sure. For example, sometimes Ruby refers to past and future events in the same breath, and it's also difficult to know quite where you are in the present. I can't really put my finger on it, but the flow of the novel was a bit of an issue because of this. Also, sometimes these boyfriends come into Ruby's life so quickly that she spends two or three paragraphs (in the chapters they're featured in) talking about them, and the rest of the chapter in that confused present-past-future narrative.The Boyfriend List also makes use of footnotes, just like in, say, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. But while the footnotes in that novel were hilarious, Ruby Oliver's failed to hit the mark most of the time and only occasionally put a smile on my face. Maybe the humour's a bit dated (even though this book is around seven years old), maybe I just don't share the same sense of humour... I guess I'm just not the target audience, because a) I don't really like chick-lit and b) My sense of humour is incredibly mercurial.Though in her favour, Ruby is sometimes funny! There was a great part in the first chapter or so where Ruby bemoaned the clichés of most teen literature: I'm not telling you what I look like in any detail. I hate those endless descriptions of a heroine's physical attributes: 'She had piercing blue eyes and a heavy bosom' or 'She hated her frizzy hair and fat ankles', First, it's boring. You should be able to imagine me without all the gory details of my hairstyle or the size of my thighs. And secondly, it really bothers me how in books it always seems like the only two choices are perfection or self-loathing. As if the readers will only like a character who's ideal – or completely shattered. Give me a break. People have GOT to be smarter than that.'Unfortunately, Ruby failed to hit the mark for my sense of humour after that, and even though she was enjoyable as a narrator, I guess I felt a little bit let down by the fact that it was sold to me as a really funny read, when it actually turned out to be quite fluffy. I read it in about four hours though, which shows I might actually have a hidden part of my brain that actually likes chick-lit and romantic comedy films. Excuse me while I pull it, dragging and screaming, back into the mental closet from which it came.There, better.Ruby also turned out to be more than a bit obsessed for my tastes. It wasn't, say, Bella Swan or Bethany Church-esque, where the heroine wangsts for pages upon pages about how she can't function without her boyfriend. The kind of heroines you want to shake by the lapels and scream: 'GET OVER IT!'. However, Ruby''s post-breakup trauma manifests in crying and having panic attacks and while she doesn't constantly whine about it like some YA heroines, some of these crying fits got old a bit fast. Also, bloody hell was she stuck on Jackson. I was actually cheering on this guy halfway through the novel when he tells her he sometimes wants to hang out with his friends and there is such a thing as forgetting to phone somebody. High five, dude. It's too bad you're revealed to be a nasty piece of work by the end of the book, but eh.Also, for a girl who has had 15 boyfriends, though, it's pretty bad that merely two or three hours after finishing this book, I can only remember a few of them. They're all pretty similar, though. They're all good-looking, rich, and sometimes on sports teams or in bands, and all highly idealised. (“Like oh my god you guys, this guy has a cute smile, floppy hair, plays guitar and drives a beat-up old car, and works at a coffee house! SWOON!”) It's just a shame that so many of them really don't have very discernible personalities. I get that some of these 'boyfriends' are just vague recollections from over the years, but I really think there could have been a bit more development with characters such as Shiv and Sky.All in all, the novel isn't bad. The main character is quite witty and fun to read, and it is a very addictive book. Its main problems stem from...1. The chronologically-confused setting, bouncing around from past to present to future.2. A main character whose witticisms are definitely a case of 'your mileage may vary'. Some of you might find her hilarious, and some of you might just find them mildly amusing, like me.3. Not a lot in the way of personalities for these fifteen guys, some of whom are described with barely any pomp and circumstance whatsoever in their featured chapters. Does Ruby only ever go for the same type of person? Wouldn't you want something different after a while?However, if you're looking for something sweet and fluffy to read, you couldn't go much wrong with The Boyfriend List. It's short, it's sweet, it has its problems, but hey, I finished it in four hours, so it obviously did something right. 3/5.