ARC Book Review: September Girls by Bennett Madison

Posted April 26, 2013 by Debby in Reviews / 61 Comments

I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

ARC Book Review: September Girls by Bennett MadisonSeptember Girls by Bennett Madison
Published by HarperTeen on May 21st, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mermaids, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss

When Sam’s dad whisks him and his brother off to a remote beach town for the summer, he’s all for it– at first. Sam soon realizes, though, that this place is anything but ordinary. Time seems to slow down around here, and everywhere he looks, there are beautiful blond girls. Girls who seem inexplicably drawn to him.

Then Sam meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and she’s different from the others. Just as he starts to fall for her, she pulls away, leaving him more confused than ever. He knows that if he’s going to get her back, he’ll have to uncover the secret of this beach and the girls who live here.

0 Stars


No. No no no no no. No no. No. This book is one of the worst I have ever read. Hell, it may well be the worst. Save yourself the inevitable frustration and disappointment of reading this book. Please. Do yourself a favor. Let me tell you why. Cue my longest review ever.

After only 15%, my gut told me to throw my e-reader across the room and give up. But I am not one to easily DNF books, and I really felt I should review this one. So I kept on going. But this isn’t going to be pretty guys. I’ll throw in some gifs though. To pretty it up. And because they so adequately can depict my rage. Let me start off with this: Sam is the most annoying, douchebag main character I have ever read. Here are some quotes for you, introducing himself right at the beginning of the book.

“Man, I just want to go to bed,” I said. I was exhausted. I wanted to jerk off and fall asleep. September Girls by Bennett Madison

First thing to know about Sam: he’s blunt and vulgar.

I consider myself a sociable person, but sometimes I feel best being sociable with myself. I guess that’s why I enjoy masturbation. September Girls by Bennett Madison

Why? Seriously. Why?

This morning at the beach was different. I felt the muscles in my shoulders pumping with blood. I felt ocean in my eyelashes and a heaviness in my dick. I felt strong and solid, more myself–the best version of myself, I mean–than I had in a while. September Girls by Bennett Madison
Okay, aside from once again mentioning his dick, “I felt ocean in my eyelashes”?? What the hell kind of writing is this?


And although Sasha had remained obviously into me in the weeks following the party–texting me nonstop and leaving long and pointless handwritten notes in my locker–I’d quickly decided that she was annoying and not even all that hot. September Girls by Bennett Madison

No. Just no. Adding sexist to the list of personality traits.

I wondered if the earth was flat-and if so, where did the water go when it tumbled off the edge?

I mean, I’m not an idiot. I’m ninety-nine percent convinced that the world is not flat. But I believe you can’t be sure of anything until you’ve seen it with your own two eyes. And maybe it’s just the limitations of photography, but I’ve seen those pictures of earth from outer space and it looks flat as a quarter to me. September Girls by Bennett Madison

I think the author intended to show off Sam’s thoughtfulness here, but… JESUS. NO. UGH. Think again, Sam. You definitely are an idiot.

Sam also frequently cites the “wisdom” of his best friend, Sebastian. And that yields us such beautiful passages as…

Sebastian always advised me to ask questions when in doubt. “Girls like to talk about themselves. If you can’t think of anything to say, just ask some dumb question about nothing, and if you’re lucky she’ll go off and you won’t have to say anything else for another ten minutes and she’ll think you’re a great listener. September Girls by Bennett Madison

I actually thought about calling Sebastian for advice, but I could practically hear his voice: Wait, this is all over some girl? Don’t be such a fucking vagina, dude! I mean, dude! You go to the beach for a month and you turn into a human tampon! September Girls by Bennett Madison

And yet, even worse than Sam, there’s his brother, Jeff, aka the most sexist pig ever born.

“You sleep with some girl once, and before you know it you’re like trapped in her crazy pussy-web,” he said, nodding sagely to himself. September Girls by Bennett Madison

“You wearing some kind of special cologne or something?” he asked. “You’re working some crazy voodoo on those bitches.” September Girls by Bennett Madison

Now all of the above are completely infuriating. Every male character is portrayed to be such a huge douche (except Sam and Jeff’s father, who is a total pansy). And I don’t know about you guys, but the majority of the YA reader base being female, this is all pretty freaking (1) disgusting, (2) insulting, and (3) disheartening! I’m single, and thinking that every guy is like this is totally depressing. It just makes me think…


But the sexism doesn’t end there. The main love interest, DeeDee, also has some choice words to add.

“I’ve never read the Bible,” I said. “I didn’t know anyone actually read it.”

“Well I did,” she said. “Three times. It seems like it’s going to be a real drag, and some parts really suck, but it actually has some good sections. I like the parts about hos, even if they always come to a bad end. Eat a fucking apple, you’re a ho. Open a box, you’re a ho. Some guy looks at you: turn to stone, ho. See you later, ho. It’s always the same. The best one is Lilith-also a ho, but a different kind of ho. She went and got her own little thing going, and for that she gets to be an eternal demon queen, lucky her. No one likes a ho. Except when they do, which, obviously, is most of the time. Doesn’t make a difference; she always gets hers eventually.” September Girls by Bennett Madison

You… wait.. what?

The women think we’re tacky, but we’re not interested in the opinions of women anymore. We learned long ago how unimportant the opinions of women are. September Girls by Bennett Madison

Kristle tried to do it with me.” I said. DeeDee didn’t flinch. “I know,” she said. “She told me. Typical ho. September Girls by Bennett Madison

This is the weird thing about September Girls – it’s so blatantly sexist, disgusting, and infuriating, at a certain point I was wondering if I was reading it wrong. And if it wasn’t just totally meant to be a comedy. A disgusting comedy, but still. I mean. Why on earth would a publisher publish this??? (I still love you, HarperCollins, but…)


I could go on with the quotes, but I think you get the point. I did read the whole book, and I have some choice words to say about the rest as well.

The characters are ridiculous. I think from the quotes you’ve probably already understood that they’re all sexist assholes, and obviously that kept me from connecting at all or caring about them at all. However, something weird happened too. We have these sexist idiots, Sam and Jeff, and at a certain point they both have love interests (I know, I know, HOWWW??!??!?!) and they do some kind of 180. Jeff, who admittedly made some of the worst comments, gets all defensive when Sam questions his relationship with Kristle. Sam is suddenly totally love sick after he meets DeeDee. …It doesn’t work this way guys. CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. GET SOME. PREFERABLY BELIEVABLE.


Sam’s parents are some of the stupidest I have ever heard of. So Sam’s mother leaves the family – just one day ups and leaves. Sam then so very eloquently blames this on… feminism. Yes, through Facebook and Farmville, his mother discovered the internet, and then came in contact with a whole crowd of people there who apparently inspired her to ditch her family. What? When does this ever happen? And then she comes back. During Sam’s vacation. And his father has been pining and moaning since she left, a truly pathetic human being, to be quite honest. So she comes back, and he doesn’t blame her for anything, just welcomes her back, pretty much. I’m sure there’s a deeper story there but the author just decides to pretty much glaze over that to talk more about Sam’s melodramatic love life.


The plot is stupid. Wait, I should rephrase that. Plot, WHAT plot? Seriously, at around 50% I didn’t know what I was reading anymore. The whole first half was basically: there are these mysterious girls. Something’s up with them. Oh and Sam is completely love sick for DeeDee. And Kristle keeps flirting with him. It’s just plain boring. After that, it still takes a while before anything really happens. But I pushed on. You guys don’t care about spoilers, right? Eh, SPOILER ALERT. So it turns out that the oh-so-mysterious Girls are mermaids… kind of? (the world building is shit), and they have a CURSE. They can’t leave the beach unless they… have sex with a virgin male.


Whyyyy? Seriously, you couldn’t think of anything better? At that point, it hit me: this is a teenage boy’s wet dream. It’s got to be. But yeah, that explains why all these ever so slightly weird but totally hot Girls are after Sam, who has shown no personality besides a slight propensity for sexism. You know how attractive that is. But yeah, they’re only after sex, so…

One of my favorite (sarcasm) scenes was when a hurricane came to the beach! Not only did Sam’s family very stupidly decide to stay (seriously, living in Northwest Houston was terrifying enough when hurricanes struck – being right on the shore? umm) but this very interesting passage happens. (Just one more quote, I swear!)

“So why are we staying?” I looked from Dad to Mom. “If we’re supposed to leave?” Everyone just sort of shrugged. “Are we all going to die?” I asked.

“Pfft,” my mom whistled, waving me off. “People make such a big deal about death. It’s just a passage.” September Girls by Bennett Madison
Seriously, his parents are so stupid. After that, you know what happens? It’s a couple hours before the hurricane is due to hit, and Sam’s dad hands him his metal detector and tells him to go off and hunt for treasure on the beach. Right now. And Sam goes.


WHO DOES THIS??? Well, he goes off on his merry way, hunting for treasure, eventually finds something, starts digging, digging, digging, and then notices the hole he’s standing in is filling with water and the winds are actually too fierce for him to swim back to the shore. *heavy sigh* Luckilyyyy his Girls are there to save him.

Moving on, the writing is pretentious. So this book doesn’t even have that to save it. The writing alternates between Sam’s point of view and passages from the Girls. These short Girls chapters are the most cryptic and pretentious passages. I suppose that was intended to heighten the mystery about their identities and whatever, but most of them ended with me scratching my head thinking, “What the hell did I just read?” But that feeling wasn’t only limited to those passages, and sometimes Sam had a propensity for those kinds of tangents as well. And of course, you’ve seen some samples of the writing already, with beautiful descriptors like, “I felt ocean in my eyelashes.”

The world building was just awful. There’s so much potential in mermaids. I wished for so much better. But no. We get pretty much one cryptic infodump that is equal parts confusing and forgettable – I suppose because creative world building was not a goal of this novel. Here, let’s see what you make of this: the Girls are mermaids. Their mother is the Deepness. Their father is the Endlessness. They have two brothers: Speed and Calm. They for some reason only really “live” in the summer and are rather dormant the other months. They get sent to the beach when they’re 16 and have no real memories of where they came from or what their name was, except the knowledge that they’re cursed, in fact, by their father. There’s a lot of other little disjointed details, but it’s like none of it really builds on each other and none of it is thoroughly developed. I mean, did it make sense to you, Sherlock?


Also, I feel like I have to mention that the Girls have the most ridiculous names ever. So when they wash up on the shore, they don’t have a name, so they watch TV and stuff and then pick names. But I don’t get why that yields them the stupidest names in history (especially when they have their sisters there who have been living there for a while and would probably know what is normal by now). Here are some of these brilliant names: Kristle, L’Oréal, Olay, Taffany, Fiesta, Jenuvia, the list goes on. I couldn’t help but giggle every time I saw Kristle or Taffany written on the page. I mean, seriously. Even if they didn’t know any better after just crawling out of the ocean, they could catch on later and switch to more normal names right? Names aren’t exactly set in stone…

Okay, this is going on for far too long.

Summing Up:

There is nothing redeemable about this book. Reading it can best just be summed up with this one final gif.



Someone hand me the brain bleach.

In Three Words:

Recommended To:

I wouldn’t subject anyone to this.

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61 responses to “ARC Book Review: September Girls by Bennett Madison

  1. Hahaha. I love it when the book blogging community come together for once and agree one thing- the stupidity of this book. I love how the first half of your review is just quotes. Really letting the book speak for itself. Great review, Debby.

  2. This is the second 0/5 review of this I’ve read. It sounds TERRIBLE. Which is a shame, it sounded interesting at least. Definitely not going to buy this now. Well done for getting through it, I don’t think I would have managed it.

    • Yeah, it definitely is terrible. Having an ARC, I felt I really had to review it, and therefore finish it. But we’ll see if I’ll be able to stick it out if I ever get a book like this again for review. Ew.

  3. Never, ever stop reviewing. Based off of this post, the best thing about this book was getting to laugh my ass off reading you dig into it. Is it sadistic of me to want you to read more horrible books just for the end review?

    • Hahahaha, I’m glad I could amuse you xD I did think some people would be entertained by this. I don’t think I’ll voluntarily pick up books I’ll likely hate though. With this one, I had an ARC, so yeah.

  4. This sounds HORRIFYING! I’m kinda sad because I have it on my TBR pile and the summary sounded interesting… But the quotes are all just making me want to do serious damage to something…

    • Yeah, these aren’t even ALL the offensive quotes. At certain intervals I just had to put the book down and *headdesk* for a while. Awful book. Are you still going to read it?

  5. HAHAHA OH MAN. Again, Debby, I admire you for sticking with this book, because I definitely would have DNFed it. Then again, I don’t mind DNFing books. But this sounds horrible. Absolutely horrible. I want to punch the MC and I haven’t even read this book. (And I won’t, that’s for sure.) I absolutely DO NOT UNDERSTAND why authors write such terrible characters, and especially when those characters cause FANGIRLING. WHAT EVEN?! (This was my reaction to The Collector, too. It’s pretty damn obvious that the dude is an ass and STILL everyone keeps raving about him. Um, what?!)

    Also, that part about Sam and the earth being flat? Hahahahahahaha. That makes him sound SO intelligent. And I think that the part about that girl who describes the Bible is just rude, and also I want to hit her too. It’s pretty obvious she’s just doing it to get his attention? Terrible terrible terrible.

    But I had fun reading your review XD Sorry that you had to go through this.

    • Haha, I’ve only DNFed 3 books or something, ever. But I’m going to try to teach myself that it’s okay to put a book down if I hate it so much. But with this book I felt I had to review it (1) because I had an ARC, and (2) to make it clear to the reading community that they should avoid this book like the plague.

      Luckily I don’t know anyone who fangirls over Sam, that would SERIOUSLY baffle me. I don’t really know anyone who liked this book. *sigh*

      Glad you enjoyed reading the review though 🙂

  6. I kept seeing your tweets last night while writing this review and just knew I had to read it first thing this morning. Wow! Thank you for sacrificing your time and sanity to save the rest of us from this book. I mean, just reading the quotes alone that you provided was horrible. And the talk about penis? I honestly went to see if the book was written by a girl because I thought really? No guy I have ever known thinks like this. But no, it is written by a guy and if this book is written based off what he knows as a guy, I am going to stay far far away! Great review!

    • Haha, you’re welcome! Yeah, I still don’t get it. If this is how a typical guy thinks… *shudder* I don’t know what the author was thinking.

      Thank you 🙂

  7. ‘No freaking oranges’. Haha! Great review. The mermaid thing had already put me off, but this book just sounds terrible. Your quotes are the kind where I had to read them twice; I couldn’t believe they were actually in the book.
    Oh and L’oreal?
    BAHAHAHAHAHAH

    • Haha, thank you! I actually was really looking forward to a book about mermaids, but this hardly qualified. And indeed, the horrifying quotes – I seriously did some doubletakes as well.

  8. UGH. I just know I would hate this book. I’m glad that I’ve seen all the bad reviews to know that! Ha. Awesome gifs!! Gotta love them.

    • Yes, stay far, far away! I’m glad the blogging community is getting the word out there and protecting the rest of the readers, haha.

  9. I wasn’t going to read this review because, as you know, I don’t read negative reviews of things I intend to read. But then I remembered that I didn’t want to read this pile of crap, since I’d seen some of Blythe’s status updates.

    NO ORANGES?! Oh my god, well done for sticking with it. Or should I call you crazy for doing so?

    This sounds absolutely appalling. I am not here for the sexism, or the dick talk (seriously, why is this in there?), or… Any of it. Nope.

    I am here for your ranty gifs though XD

    • Haha, you are wise to stay away. I wish I didn’t feel so obligated to stick it out. But I honestly sat there, wondering if I could give it 1 orange, but there really wasn’t anything that warranted even that much. I hated all of it.

      🙂 I suspected my gifs would amuse you, hihihi.

    • Apparently it has gotten a couple of starred reviews from professional reviewers… but I have no idea why. 🙂 Glad you liked the review!

  10. If I’m completely honest, the first few quotes from the boys didn’t deter me. Sam and his friends sound exactly like some of the guys that I work with. I mean, I had one of my guy coworkers suggest to another of my guy coworkers that he save the two girls he was dating (simultaneously) in his phone with guy names, so that when they’re always texting, the girl he’s with at the time, won’t a) notice that he was always texting another girl and b) not be bothered by how much they’re texting.

    Pigs, I tell ya!

    But then the rest of your review happened, and I was like no. No no no. NO!

    • Yeah, I know some guys are like that, but it was still all rather overwhelming and disgusting. And yeah, the rest of the book was just terrible as well. *sigh*

  11. No no no!!! I was looking forward to September Girls. It would have been my first mermaid book…

    OMG, those lines! Sam sounds exactly like a complete and utter douchebag. As well as Jeff and that best friend guy. And based on the quotes I wouldn’t advertise this book as a ya. What is HC thinking???
    And L’Oréal? Really?

    *sighs and goes to remove it from her wishlist* At least I have fun reading you review! Thanks for the laughs! 😛

    • Oh man, I wouldn’t have wanted you to pick this up as your first mermaid book. Better ones exist, I swear. This barely even was a mermaid book, with its awful world building.

      Yeah, I don’t get this being YA either. I think maybe it’s really targeted at young adult males, but I doubt that’ll work. With that cover, it really looks like a girly book. It’s just all really confusing.

      Haha, you’re welcome, and I’m glad I could save you from this frustration 🙂

  12. OMG I DIED. This might be my favorite review ever. I am so sorry you had such a terrible experience but I am so thankful for this review. I won’t even go within 10 feet of this book. I can’t believe such a terrible book even exits. I’m a little speechless.

  13. My favorite part of your entire review:
    “At that point, it hit me: this is a teenage boy’s wet dream. It’s got to be.”
    This was EXACTLY what I was thinking as you were stating those quotes! I can picture a horny boy writing this book with a checklist.
    Masturbation? Check.
    Use of the word slut & ho? Check.
    A virgin boy? Check.
    “Dudes” to make the guys sound like, well, dudes? Double check.

  14. OMG I DIED. This might be my favorite review ever. I am so sorry you had such a terrible experience but I am so thankful for this review. I won’t even go within 10 feet of this book. I can’t believe such a terrible book even exits. I’m a little speechless.

  15. I first saw your review on Goodreads, and then I knew I had to come to your blog & comment!!

    I think your review is probably better than the book would be. It was on my TBR list but I took it off after reading your review on it. This book sounds like complete and utter shite. I think I’ll definitely be giving this one a miss for real.

    Thanks for your review & for saving me from a horrible fate of reading it!

    • Aww, you’re welcome. I almost feel bad that my review is getting so many people to not even give this one a chance, but I guess that’s what happens when you publish a horrific and offensive book and send it out for honest reviews. *sigh*

  16. This was absolutely hilarious. You and Steph’s reviews have pretty much made my night. Thank you for the laughs. Sorry you had to go through all that for such a great review though!

  17. This is the fourth review I’ve read that’s said the exact same thing. HOW could Harper think this was a good idea? HOW?

    This book … I just pray that when it’s released and more people start to read it, the reviews on goodreads and everywhere else are as low as they should be. So far, the only good reviews I’ve seen are by male readers. Too bad females dominate YA reading.

    • That is the big mystery indeed. What I wouldn’t give for an interview with the editor/agent. I mean, it can’t be that so many reviewers all interpreted the book wrong, right?

      I did see that as well, male reviewers seem to be easier on it. I really think this is probably intended for a male audience. I just think it shouldn’t have such a girly cover in that case. That’s what drew me in anyway.

  18. So I’ve already read this review, but I had to make comment here to make things official 😉 But yeah, I’m so massively impressed that you managed to make it all the way through this book. There is NO WAY I could have done it, so you and Blythe and Steph are seriously my heroes. I would really like to pick apart this author’s brain, though. Because SERIOUSLY?!

    LOL, anyway. Excellent review. Loved all your GIFs.

    • Hahaha, thanks Renae. Trust me, I’m still wondering how I got through the whole book as well. I may need to keep an eye out for interviews with the author in the near future as well, because what his intentions with this book were… hmm, I’d love to hear something.

      🙂 ♥

    • Hahaha, glad I could entertain you! Yeah, I have no idea how this got published either. The author will be on Epic Reads’ Tea Time next week, maybe that’ll provide some answers, but *shrug*

      Thank you 🙂

  19. meg

    1. Your review was hilarious, excellent choice of gifs
    2. All of the hate from the book bloggers I follow is kind of starting to have the opposite effect and making me want to read this book so I can see first hand what all the fuss is about. Please talk me out of this.

    • Haha, thank you! And EEP don’t!!! Seriously. At the very least, DON’T SPEND MONEY ON IT. And borrow it from the library if you must. It’s just… so awful… I wish I could forget how awful it was…

  20. Oh my! It has such a beautiful and romantic cover, I woouldn’t have expected something like that! First of all, I love the quotes and the gifs! hahaha! Second, thanks! I think I would have read it! But no, that ain’t gonna happen!
    I’m following you now 🙂

    • No kidding! I think this is one of the worst book+cover matches I’ve ever seen in my life. AWFUL. Haha, glad I could help 🙂 And thanks for following!

    • Negative reviews are not bullying. Debbie’s review was well thought-out and she explained in detail why she didn’t like the book. She didn’t say negative things about the author himself or threaten the author, which would be bullying.

      Calling negative reviews bullying also diminishes actual bullying.
      Shayna recently posted Mixtape Monday: Mind Games & Perfet LiesMy Profile

  21. I kind of feel like I have to play the devil’s advocate here since I had a brief twitter exchange with Bennett Madison about the intentions of his book. While your review summed up my initial reaction, I felt like I had to change my stance a little bit after reading more into it: http://bibliophilials.com/2013/06/11/reasons-why-september-girls-isnt-as-bad-as-you-or-i-thought/ in case you’re interested in another perspective.
    Shayna recently posted Mixtape Monday: Mind Games & Perfet LiesMy Profile

    • Great that you can feel differently about it, but I am and always have been of the opinion that if your book needs extra explanation outside of the text for people to “get it”, you’ve pretty much failed in your mission as an author. Since I am not the only one with this opinion, Bennett should have clarified what he was trying to say in the book. So I’m happy for you, but this doesn’t change anything for me.

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