December 3, 2012
Book Review: The Queen of Kentucky
Year Published: 2012
My Rating: 3.5/ 5 stars!
Well, Alice Whitaker, you got me. You went beyond what I was excepting, and wrote an ostensibly cliché book into a one of a kind, one that you could call your own.
After reading the synopsis and the first few chapters, I thought I had the whole book figured out. First, Ricki Jo would be that awkward new girl at school, but then would slowly blossom into one of the "populars". Then she would catch the attention of her since-the-school-year-started crush, the hot but actually not hot bad boy Wolf. While their relationship developed, Luke, Ricki Jo's lifelong best friend, would be watching silently from the side (but not in a stalker-ish way) wishing that Ricki Jo would realize that he is the one who is truly for her. Then, several turn of events, including the realization that Wolf is actually a jerk, would lead to our naive yet oh so charming protagonist to discover that Luke was the one she should've loved from the beginning. The two would then have a heart-felt conversation, kiss, and live happily ever after.
Well, needless to say, this book was not like what it seemed.
In the beginning, I did not like Ricki Jo. At all. I despised her annoying insecurity, naivety, selfishness, etc. She just acted like she tried too hard, and just did not strike me as a likable character. But as the chapters moved by, I saw a more mature, mellow girl develop underneath her seemingly superficial personality. I'll admit, she still was bit childish towards the end of the book, but I could tell that she understood the world more, understood herself better.
But seriously, with Wolf, there were no excuses as to his annoying personality. First of all, he is not hot, and definitely not swoon-worthy. If you really want to make the love interest into a bad boy, you've got to be really careful on how you shape his character, because it could either make or break the whole ambiance of the story. In this case, it kind of broke it, but luckily, there was Luke. I found Luke really cute, the kind of guy that's shy and adorably awkward, so he definitely improved the whole situation a little. ^^
Then there's the plot. It contained much more depth than I excepted, and evoked in me the sense that I could relate to the story. Ricki Jo's goal to fit in her new school was met by struggles and successes, trials and errors. It was actually quite realistic, and contained much less corny moments than I thought. (Although those little sweet cheesy moments did not hurt ;) And honestly, sometimes, I long for these kind of books that give me a fuzzy and warm feeling inside.
Yet I've got to say that the dramatic scenes were, well, not so dramatic. This is how a usual fight in a book played out:
Riski Jo: Well, I'm sorry I hurt your feelings, but you were being a jerk too!
Other Girl: Oh really, eh? Well explain why you totally ignored me while I [insert embarrassing moment] .
Ricki Jo: Oh that? I totally did not mean that! I'm so sorry it looked like I was ignoring you!
Other Girl: [facial features softens] Well, I guess I was overreacting a little...
Ricki Jo: A little, yeah...
Other Girl: Besties for ever and ever?
Ricki Jo: TOTALLY!
I'm sorry, but that is not how you write a fight. That is all.
I'll admit that The Queen of Kentucky had its weaknesses, yet it had a lot of bright spots and great moments. I give this book a solid 3.5 stars, because I truly believe that there is something really great about this book, and when you go beyond the seemingly cliché plot and the slow developing characters, you will see that there is so much more to this book than you would have thought.