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.September Girls by Bennett Madison
Published by HarperTeen on May 21st, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mermaids, Romance, Young Adult
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.
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 MadisonOkay, 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.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.
“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
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.