Sunday, July 10, 2011

Review: Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick

Black Painted Fingernails by Steven Herrick

Pages: 216
Publisher: Allen & Unwin

Published: June 1st, 2011
IBSN: 9781742374598

How about we toss a coin? Heads, it's west and a lift. Tails, it's still west, but no lift.'

James is heading into the country on his first teacher-training round when a mysterious girl asks him for a ride. Sophie has him all worked out: 'You live with your parents and they bought you this car, and a very nice car it is too...' At first James can't see past her wild hair and attitude, but then Sophie trusts him with a secret she's been keeping too long.

I really wanted to love this book. I mean, it has an Australian author and road trips. What's not to love?

I can answer that question now: the cliches. I would have loved this book if not for the cliches. James and Sophie were a pair from teen movies: him, shy and nervous, leaving home for the first time; her, unabashed and confident, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl showing him how to live. From one of their first moments together, where she starts guessing his life story, I was frustrated.

I couldn't like either character. Neither character really developed. James didn't develop, he just suddenly changed. He was quiet and anxious until Sophie told him to get a backbone, and voila, he suddenly had one! Sophie looked like she was going to grow up and go home, but that was a bust.

The subplot about James' parents learning to be less protective of him seemed unnecessary and slightly boring (probably only because I'm a teen, and I don't relate to adults in books.), though it may have made for the only real character arc in the book. 

I was constantly trying to figure out if this was intended to be an issues book or a fun, breezy one. I figured if it were the latter, I'd have gotten bored less often. But the issues brought up in this book are as minor as having clingy parents.

I give Black Painted Fingernails a 2 out of 5. Though I haven't seen a fellow bad review of this book yet, so it's still worth giving it a shot. To each their own!