Title/Author: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things by Ann Aguirre
Publisher/Date published: Feiwel & Friends, April 7th 2015
How I got this book: received it from the publisher through NetGalley
Buy this book at: The Book Depository
Goodreads summary: Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won’t peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She’s learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it’s working just fine... until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He’s a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted.
Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn’t expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.
But love doesn’t mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again...
I feel like a bit of a black sheep scrolling through the Goodreads ratings of this book, but I didn't like it as much as other people have so far.
I was all set to go for the cute and swoony read, but it never got there for me. I mean, I was ok with Sage at first, it's pretty cool that she's leaving positive messages on people's lockers and just trying to be the best version of herself, but it also felt REALLY forced. I mean, I was never entirely sure if what she was showing the outside world was actually who she was with all her causes and do-gooder attitude or if it's just something she's playing at. And she has this big dark secret (that we don't get to find out until about 75% through, which really annoyed me) and the mention of Shadow Sage which got tiring pretty fast for me. I mean, honestly, we're never really told exactly why Shadow Sage would know what to do with bullies and how to get back at them and everything. I wasn't that impressed.
It did feel pretty realistic that she was constantly being on her best behaviour around her aunt, who took her in, because she was afraid she would get sent back into the system if she wasn't the perfect kid. I do very much get this, because that would be scary.
There's the potential for a love triangle here, but it doesn't really happen, basically because Sage ignores the guy's feelings for her and instead dives into a relationship with Shane. I mean, the other guy has been her best friend for years and when he tells her he's in love with her she gets mad at him because of lying to her (about something that was pretty much a big NO-NO) and then they never really talk about it after. WTF?
Also, the start of the relationship with Shane felt off, it felt a bit stalkerish from her side to me and I was just not really into it. And for me it felt like insta-love, I mean, there's an actual quote in chapter three that says "Until this moment, I didn't realize I was walking around all this time with a Shane-shaped hole inside of me". I mean, SERIOUSLY??? SO much cheese, which I'm usually ok with, but it was way over the top in here.
Towards the end she does this big gesture thing to help him get out of a sticky situation and I just didn't believe it. To begin with, I didn't buy into the biking for 11 hours in one day. And obviously Shane's dad is a bit of a douchebag, but basically stalking and harassing him? I'm not sure that's ok.
The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things does deal with important subjects, like bullying and dealing with grief, but I'm not sure I think it's handled in the best way. And I still can't get over Sage's saintly front, which felt a bit fake to me. Her aunt was pretty awesome though, a strong independent woman who truly cares for Sage and handles being the guardian of a teenager really well in my opinion. And I also liked the friendship between Sage and Lila, because they were truly bonding.
It's possible that this is a case of it's not you, it's me, or that Ann Aguirre's romance just doesn't mesh with me. A lot of other people did love it though, so see for yourself whether you fall more towards my spectrum of viewing it or not.
My rating: 2 stars