Lit Love Book Review: Lock and Key

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

A Lit Love Book Review brought to you by my love of books. All opinions are my own, this post is not sponsored, and I don't get any compensation from any of these links.

The Basics

Ruby is used to taking care of herself. After she is left by her mother, she is sent to live with her sister and brother-in-law. The big house and expensive private school are a total 180 from her previous life, which Ruby can't just leave behind. With the help of the cute boy next door, she learns how to accept help from others, what she can leave behind her from her old life, and what to grasp onto in her new life. 

Why you wouldn't think to pick it up:

Confession - I have this unfounded prejudice against authors that write a lot of books. I'm trying to over come it. I feel like writing a good novel will take a piece of you, and I once mistakenly believed that if you write a book a year you must not be sacrificing enough of yourself to make it a really good book. That is obviously not true. Good artists of every sort create art to fill their needs and passions, not just to manufacture a product. So that is why I avoided authors like Sarah Dessen, who is like the Nicholas Sparks of Young Adult Fiction. 

Why you should pick it up:

 It's a good light summer reading. The love story at the center is more of a slow burn, which I love. And Family is one of the main themes, which I also always love.

The great:

Dessen explores what it means to be a family through the lens of a broken girl from a broken family. It doesn't offer stereotypes or trite expressions. She shows how much easier it is to be lost than found.

She takes a realistic look at a lot of the themes she takes on in the story. Especially good are the way Ruby slowly becomes attached to her new family. There aren't any instant friendships or love interests. Instead each relationship develops through realistic acts of kindness and getting to know each other. I really enjoyed the way she depicted Ruby's feelings for Nate coming slowly, almost unnoticed as she spends more time with him and notices things about him that contradict her initial judgement of him.

Her characterization overall was better developed than most YA light romances. Her side characters all had a little depth to them and their story lives wove well into the overall story line. Though some time it seemed like every little detail was pointing to the same thing, making the thematic points really obvious.

The not so great:

Dessen tackles a lot of serious subject matter in Lock and Key, perhaps taking on too much. She doesn't fully develop the conflicts that she sets up, which can leave the reader a little unfulfilled with the simple solutions. She spends a lot of time setting up the conflict and unmet expectations between the sisters, but doesn't spend much time on the resolution. We also see Ruby take such a long time to learn to trust Nate and accept his help, but once she does it's as if she just flips a switch and suddenly has total trust and ease with him, which I feel isn't realistic to real life relationships. 

She also includes sex and drug use in the story line, and while I appreciate that neither is described in detail, she skims over the effects of such a lifestyle. They both seem to be thrown in to move the plot along, instead of being important to the characters and their choices. 

Another issue I have is the oversililoquizing (totally not a word, but I like it anyways). Ruby explains in her thoughts everything that the reader is supposed to realize about the characters motivations and foreshadowing the later resolutions. This leaves the reader with little to think about for themselves. I also don't know any one that realizes exactly why they are doing everything they are doing, especially when they are being irrational.

Also, she jumps around in the timeline so much that in one scene she will cover the three different days in random snippets and not in order. It gets a little confusing. I'm all for time jump, but it was used so much it diluted the story.

A Snippet:

She describes a moment where Ruby finds a post it note on the kitchen counter from her sister asking her brother in law to put dinner in the oven. She then notices that it is those simple things like having someone to come home to and have dinner with that are proof of a real life.

The Verdict:

It's a good book. It tackles some serious topics and has some great moments, but doesn't really do justice the themes she takes on. Better than most YA romances. A good summer read.

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