Stephanie Lawton is an author I've had the pleasure of 'meeting' via a Twitter hashtag #NALit (New Adult Lit). She writes the kinds of books I would love to pen. And with each publisher she goes through, she unerringly seems to end up with some of the most winning, imaginative covers I've seen.
I'll admit, that when I first saw the cover for her latest release, Shelf Life, I thought we were in for a bit of a tamer read than what we'd seen before.
In some ways, it is. Shelf Life isn't so much a romance as a year in the life of its main character. Pete. Not what I expected, but I like the way it built.
At its best points, this book had moments of Neil Gaiman and Francesca Lia Block. That's not to say this is a book with any magical elements. It's not. But the writing is descriptive, vivid. It gives you a sense of character, and solid views into the minds of the characters playing in the world.
The book culminates in this horrible storm that most of our main characters get stuck in. For this part of the book, there is not a page that is not fast paced or quick reading. Lindsey, our heroine, is portrayed as a bit of a brat in the early section of the book, but Stephanie brings her back into the fold with skill and empathy. Her return in the latter half of the book brings a comforting balance back to the book, though I often found myself wishing someone would pound on Lewis' door (Lindsey's brother and Pete's best friend) until he finally opened it.
The only character I couldn't find redeemable in the end was the character of Jay: the bully.
There were a couple of points I felt let the story down. It was a little bit slow to start, which can be forgiven, especially when the slowness was due to thorough world building. The slightly bigger point was that there felt like there was too much going one that was extraneous to the main plot. Characters were introduced and then dropped in favour for others and, though Pete thought of the friends that had come before, his university life felt like the opening to a separate book rather than a separate section in the same book of Pete's life. I found myself wanting to know more about Evan and Jenna. Instead, Jenna felt like a placeholder for Lindsey's return.
There were also two scenes written from Jay's point of view in seemingly isolated parts of the otherwise first person narrative that I wasn't sure added the desired empathy for the character.Lastly, I thought the book might have benefited from a trigger warning for the event at the drunken party at the end of the first act. Otherwise, it was a thoroughly emotive book with many memorable characters, and a good edition to Stephanie's work.
To buy this release on Amazon:
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