Sunday, 27 April 2014

Review || Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Arranged by Catherine McKenzie ★★☆☆☆
Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can't seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she's engaged, Anne can't help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn't a dating service; it's an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company's success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn't it work for her?

2.5 stars.

Which is really disappointing, because the first half of this book was definitely 4 star material for me.

Listen, chick-lit is not usually my thing at all. But I had this weird craving and this popped up under the recommendations after I'd read Attachments. So, hey, why not?

The premise is interesting and I was especially intrigued because I actually have a cousin who decided to go the arranged marriage route because of cultural tradition. And the first half of this book was everything I wanted it to be. Light, fluffy, adorable. It was exactly what I was in the mood for.

I read half of it in one sitting. And then life got in the way and I had to wait several days to pick it back up again. And then I read the rest in another sitting.

But instead of all the stupid grinning fluff that I'd been anticipating, the book took a turn. Even before the much touted "plot twist" I was starting to become disillusioned with the whole thing. Spoilers ahead! (Highlight to read)

I became very disillusioned with Jack, in particular.

Even before his "sinister motives" were uncovered, he was kind of being a douche? Like, he kept pushing Anne into all of these adventures that were really not her style. And instead of it coming off as him trying to help her get outside of her comfort zone, it ended up being coming across as him being really pushy and selfish. Seriously dude, the day of her book release is actually more important than you getting an adrenaline rush white water rafting. I just. What.

I had a really hard time with the fact that all this behaviour was played off as "romantic". Because it was really a lot of Jack not caring about Anne's wishes and bullying her into consent. Which. No.

And then with his book, I was ready to have him kicked to the curb! Which happened... but only temporarily. And then all of Anne's friends were suddenly like, "Oh, read the finished book, he's changed it."

And then they get back together?! No. No no no.

Listen, I like my fairy-tale endings as much as everyone else. But Jack was a manipulative, lying jerk. (There's a lot stronger language I'd like to use here, to be honest.) Do we not get the irony of Anne actually saying that the next book she's writing the heroine isn't going to be saved by a guy. And then that's exactly what happens here?

UGH. No.

It's really too bad that it ended this way. Because the first half was such fun. But I would've much preferred a non-reconciliation ending.

Overall, this ends up on my "i-wanted-to-like-this" shelf. So.