Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sleeping Beauty, in Two Parts

I'm not sure this is going to be a review, so much as a ramble about two books I recently read. Well, one book, except then there was a "alternate ending" version. I've decided to make it my policy only to review books on here that merit at least a one on the five-point scale, and I'm just not sure these fit that bill. They were, quite simply, not that good. All I really want to talk to you about is the author's decision to rewrite her ending based on reader feedback.

Surprisingly, these were written by the same author as The Frog Prince, which I reviewed below. However, they were neither as funny nor as charming as that book, and the characters were worse than blah. What do I mean "worse than blah?" I mean grating and pathetic, is what I mean. But anywho, on to the real reason I'm posting this!

The story is meant to be a modern update of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale, complete with diagnosable sleep disorders and sexy neurosurgeons. Also, there are some surfer dudes and an eventual arrest for sexual assault. So, you know, there's that. And of course, the character so cleverly named "Dr. Charmant" is obviously the one filling in for Prince Charming. The problem is that along the way, the girl's male best friend (who is somewhere along the gay-bisexual spectrum) is hanging around actually being, you know, charming. He takes care of her when she falls into her "episodes" of month-long sleepwalking. He is the one she looks for when she wakes up. She's had a crush on him for years, and he is the most loyal and patient friend she's ever known. Recipe for a romance, AmIright? Only, here's the thing: he is also her brother's boyfriend. Dude is gay. He loves women but is sexually attracted to other dudes. So, you know, that sort of helps things work a little better for Dr. Charmant who, rather than being charming and supportive or anything like that, is hetero but refuses to have sex with her right away. (Because, you know, who needs any emotional depth to a relationship when the eroticism of abstinence is there to keep things rolling?)

So already you can see why plenty of reviews would have come in routing for team "best-friend guy" rather than Charmant. And to her credit, the author took those complaints seriously enough to write an alternate ending version wherein our lovely heroine ends up with the gay/bisexual surfer dude. Here's the problem with that solution: He is still gay. She end's up with her brother's boyfriend. And you as the reader end up feeling kind of depressed for all of them because now she's stuck with a guy who will never find her as sexually attractive as he does her brother, he's ended up with his best friend with whom he had brief but probably short lived passion, and Dr. Charmant is still a nice guy who ends up...delivering her baby. In a word: Phiffle.

Here's how it should have gone down: She should have ended up with Dr. Charmant, but instead of gay-best-friend providing all support and love to her, Dr. Charmant should have done the heavy lifting there. The plot would have progressed not because she was aching to bang the doctor, but because she was slowly learning to trust and rely on him as a friend (whom she would also, coincidentally, like to bang). The issue with the first book is not that she ended up with the wrong guy, but that the character of the guy she ended up with is poorly developed. Don't marry her off to a gay man. Just improve the man she ends up with.

Like I said, no rating on this one (or, well, I guess "these ones"?). I don't recommend them at all. Just stick with The Frog Prince.

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