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Book Review: The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour

For Colby and his best friend Bev, their post-high school plans have involved a tour with Bev’s band on the west coast and then a trip to Europe.  But then Bev announces that she’s going to start college after the tour and forgo their Europe plans, and Colby feels betrayed.  As the two trek across up the coast with their friends and bandmates, Colby struggles to figure out what it will mean to lose Bev.

Nina LaCour’s second novel takes a really long time to get into, and even once the reader is fully immersed in the lives of these characters, there’s a sort of distance between them and the reader that is never fully crossed.  A slow, meandering plot and no emotional connection to Colby or any of his friends made this a rather disappointing read.

There’s the problem of Colby himself: he takes forever and a day to exhibit any sense of forward motion with regard to getting over Bev’s betrayal.  He ruminates on their friendship and his feelings for her ad nausea, and while this is authentic enough, it’s also really irritating.  I never completely bought his voice, either, which made his plight all the more dubious.  His continued devotion to Bev, who is an undeniably problematic character, became grating after a while.

While many of the supporting characters in this novel are quirky and colorful, Bev remained a bit of a mystery to me until the end.  She is supposed to be withholding, and LaCour demonstrates this well, but Bev is also so self-absorbed and dishonest that it’s difficult to care for her without any context.  When some of the context is finally revealed, it feels…underwhelming.  Because the reader never really gets to see what it is that Colby loves about her, it makes her extremely hard to take.

There are things that should appeal to readers.  The road trip between friends and the clear devotion to music will appeal to teens looking for those elements in a book.  However, the slow pacing (seriously slooooooooooooooow) and lack of rising action will frustrate some readers.  At the end of the day, I wanted this to be better than it was.

The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour. Dutton Children’s Books: 2012. Library copy.

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