Monday, November 28, 2016

He's So Not Worth It by Kieran Scott

Reviewed by Ambrea
Ally Ryan had her entire school year ruined when her former friend, Shannen, decided to publicly ridicule her in front their entire high school class and their parents.  Now, she’s torn between her mother who wants to spend the rest of the summer at the Jersey Shore and her Dad who is suddenly back in her life, thinking they can reconnect after two years of radio silence.

Meanwhile, Jake—Ally’s former boyfriend—is desperately trying to fix their shattered relationship and do damage control with his parents after they force him to take a summer job.  Hanging at loose ends, Jake and Ally find themselves drifting farther apart as their lives change directions…and their friends drive a deeper wedge between them.

I had some very strong feelings about Kieran Scott’s novel, He’s So Not Worth It—and not all of them are good.

First off, I will note that Scott is a decent writer and she creates quite believable characters facing life-like tragedies, challenges, and troubles, and her novel is strangely compelling.  However, He’s So Not Worth It isn’t really my style, and it’s definitely not something I expected to plow through in a couple of days.

Several things are happening all at once in this book:  relationships being formed, relationships being torn asunder, friends and family and acquaintances shuffling around like a deck of cards.  It rather reminds me of a soap opera—or a train wreck—because it’s difficult to look away from the ensuing carnage.  I stayed with it until the end, which, confidentially, surprised me.

Annie was probably the best part of the novel.  Her mad cap adventures across the city in pursuit of gossip about Cresties—that is, people who live on the Crescent, the richest neighborhood in town— borders on obsessive, but her field notes were so fun and relatable that I couldn’t help enjoying her eccentricities.  She, like the reader, is strangely drawn into the world of the Cresties and she’s great for giving readers a bigger piece of the story.

However, I must also admit that I pretty much disliked everyone else in He’s So Not Worth It.  I found I just didn’t understand the culture that Ally finds herself thrust back into, I don’t understand the world of the Cresties—or the locals who live at the Jersey Shore—or how they can live the way they do.  For the most part, it’s infuriating to see their lives spiraling out of control, to see them acting completely ignorant of other ways of life besides their own.

Maybe, I missed something.  Maybe, I’m seeing too much of the story through the eyes of Ally, who has found herself ostracized from this decadent, rich world of the Cresties and recognizes her peers for who they are—and sometimes even calling them out for the things they do.  Then again, maybe I just don’t understand crazy people.

Regardless, I didn’t like many of them.

I mean, so many of Ally’s peers are just horrible people.  Even Jake is a bit of a self-involved tool who needs a reality check and a good kick in the backside, and he’s one of the good ones!  You have people like Shannen, who doesn’t care what kind of havoc she wreaks, so long as she gets what she wants.  I understand she’s going through a tough with her parents’ divorce, but that doesn’t give her the right to unleash a veritable Armageddon on other people’s lives (namely, Ally’s).

You have Hammond, who needs to take a chill pill and realize that his girlfriend—excuse me, ex-girlfriend—is going to stay mad at him, because he kissed another girl and found himself actively attracted to another person when he was still in a relationship.  (Girlfriends tend to stay mad about those things, FYI.)  Jake, who can’t grasp the concept of what it means to have responsibilities, who can’t understand why Ally is so angry at him for keeping a huge secret from her (and, subsequently, breaking her heart).  Cooper, who needs serious psychiatric counseling for his alcoholism and his volatile relationship with his mother, which causes fallout to rain down on everyone.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg.  I’m not even including the parents.

And, while I liked Ally, even she managed to fall into a self-destructive spiral that nearly ruined her relationship with her mother, her father, her best friend, and pretty much everyone she cares about.  She has a good head on her shoulders and I can see why she has a problem dealing with her father’s abandonment and his sudden return, her parents’ arguments that ultimately dissolve into venomous vocal sparring matches, and her mother’s unexpected relationship with a new man whom Ally doesn’t like.  It makes sense why she’s having problems, but she has these moments where I can’t help thinking, “What is wrong with you?”

I just don’t understand their world.  I don’t get their drama, or why things have to spiral so far out of control before people stop, step back, and think, “Huh?  Maybe I shouldn’t do that anymore?”  I get it, they’re teenagers, but do they have to be so very, very careless and, in a word, stupid?  These are kids who have their whole lives ahead of them, they have the world at their fingertips because of the wealth and prestige of their families.  They literally can do anything they want with their lives—and they’re out drinking on the beach, screwing around, ruining their own and other people’s lives.

I just don’t get it.

Honestly, it all makes me kind of sick and I can’t say I left this novel with a satisfied feeling.

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