Read: 1st-13th January 2016, book 1/52
This book is a joint venture by three popular YA authors: Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle, and while I’m a big fan of John and Maureen this would be my first time reading anything by Lauren.1 I picked this first because of all the books on my horrendously long reading list it’s probably the one that’s been waiting longest (~4 years I think). In case you hadn’t guessed, it’s also a Christmas book which is a nice seasonal coincidence.
The Jubilee Express
Maureen Johnson takes us into the snow-buried Gracetown quite nicely I thought. The setting was well set and for the most part I thought Jubilee was a good character and easy to get along with, though I can’t say the same for Stuart. It might have turned out for the best in the end but the path taken to get there felt manipulative which probably isn’t the best foundation for a relationship.
A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle
With John I was taken back into familiar territory to a set of characters I could get behind and a story I really enjoyed. It was the one with the least romantic plot happening which I think left room for the rest of the story to be fleshed out and engaging. The ending with Duke and Tobin was still YA cheestastic, but the other arcs supported it which can’t be said of the other two stories.
The Patron Saint of Pigs
While the plot was a fairly standard ‘breakup, see error of ways, get back-together’ affair I had real problems with Lauren’s story, specifically the main character ‘Addie’. For the most part I found it very hard to relate to her and even if I could I just wanted to shout at her to get her shit together. That said, the secondary characters were much better developed. This story also had a weird thing where it seemed to be generally accepted that young romantics chat over email which I don’t think is something that’s happened since at least 2000.
For me though, the reason this book was interesting wasn’t any of the individual parts but rather the way it all worked together. This isn’t just a collection of 3 stories, but 3 stories that happen in the same location, on the same day, with overlapping casts, and tightly interlinked plots. As someone who’s written collaborative works in the past I know it can be difficult with even the simplest things let alone a project like this.
If you’re a fan of any of these authors I’d definitely give it a read, though I probably wouldn’t recommend using this as an introduction to any of them, Also, if you’re a writer or reader especially interested in this kind of intertwined narrative I’d recommend having a go.
When I looked her up online the first thing I found was her “Internet Girls” series which was both the first book to be written entirely in IM conversations and at the time topped the American Library Association’s list of books people want to ban. It’s not strictly relevant to this book, but thought it was interesting none the less. ↩