Friday, January 21, 2011

Once in a Full Moon by Ellen Schreiber

Title: Once in a Full Moon
Author: Ellen Schreiber
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: December 28h, 2010
Pages: 292 pages (hardback)
How I Got the Book: Birthday gift.

Summary:

Beware of a kiss under the full moon. It will change your life forever.

Celeste Parker is used to hearing scary stories about werewolves--Legend's Run is famous for them. She's used to everything in the small town until Brandon Maddox moves to Legend's Run and Celeste finds herself immediately drawn to the handsome new student. But when, after an unnerving visit with a psychic, she encounters a pack of wolves and gorgeous, enigmatic Brandon, she must discover whether his transformation is more than legend or just a trick of the shadows in the moonlight.

Her best friends may never forgive her if she gives up her perfect boyfriend, Nash, for Brandon, who's from the wrong side of town. But she can't deny her attraction or the strong pull he has on her. Brandon may be Celeste's hero, or he may be the most dangerous creature she could encounter in the woods of Legend's Run.

Psychic predictions, generations-old secrets, a town divided, and the possibility of falling in love with a hot and heroic werewolf are the perfect formula for what happens... once in a full moon.

Why I Didn't Finish This Book:

I love Ellen Schreiber. This is no big secret. She changed my life with her Vampire Kisses series and made me the girl I am today. When I heard that she was starting a new series about werewolves, I was in. It wouldn't matter whether or not the book was actually good. It was Ellen, after all! She has the Special Author Pass! She can do things other authors could never get away with! I got the book, started reading, and gave up on page 160.

Here are the many reasons I could not finish this book. I get very nit-picky-seeming due to how much content bothered me and I will try my hardest to remain polite. There will be no over-the-top vitriol this time around; I respect Ellen too much.

1) Celeste Parker: I have many issues with the main character herself. She is supposed to be a good person, but I felt that she was very vain, caring more about her reputation and appearance to others than anything she truly cared about. Two interests of hers I liked, how she volunteered with senior citizens and wrote down ideas for stories in her notebooks, disappeared once she fell in "love" with Brandon, her savior. She whines about how things are and despite nothing that prevents her from trying to change it other than the unspoken rules that aren't really rules, she doesn't ever try to do anything about it. She's unwilling to risk anything at all for love or change and once she falls in "love," it's all about the guy. This may be my personal preference for heroines, but I don't like this kind of heroine. They make me disappointed that someone might think this is what womankind is like.

2) Ivy and Abby, Celeste's best friends: These two girls are horrible people and horrible friends. They are very shallow; when they're lecturing Celeste on why she could get back with Nash (after he cheated on her with another girl and Celeste decided she wasn't going to deal with him anymore), they point out nothing about his personality, just stuff like he's athletic, popular, and rich. Good friends would support Celeste in her decision not to date Nash and let her make her own decisions on which guy she dates. These two pressure Celeste and tell her continually that she should go back to dating Nash despite Celeste saying multiple times that she doesn't want to. They care nothing about what Celeste thinks or wants to do; it's about about what they want her to think and do. These are toxic, controlling friends right here. They offer only pressure, no support.

3) Gender roles: In chapter one of the book, Nash is telling a story about a man who was a werewolf. Wolves start to howl while he tells the tale and this spooks everyone out of the forest where they had been camping, including Celeste and Nash. Celeste takes the time to mention how his hands are shaking as he holds onto the wheel of his car, then says she is disappointed in her boyfriend's cowardice. That is almost an exact quote. So guys aren't allowed to get scared? That's the girls' job? She doesn't even try to make him feel better. What kind of girlfriend acts like that to their boyfriend? Not a good one, that's for sure.

4) Victim-blaming: On page 146, Nash utters this line: "Maybe if you stayed at the game the whole time, then you wouldn't be running into wild animals." This requires background information: Just before this line was said, Nash was chewing Celeste out for leaving the game to go get some stuff she left at Brandon's house when she went to see him. They were broken up, but Celeste went to one of his games because her friends pressured her into it. Because she left the game, he said, she wasn't supporting him. Because of everything said before, this is how my brain interpreted the line: "If you had chosen to support me (your ex-boyfriend that treated you horribly) and start dating me again, then you wouldn't have run into a wolf again." Yes, he's blaming her encounter with a wolf on her decision not to stay at the game, support him, and get back together with him. Those two have nothing to do with each other! This is classic victim-blaming and it makes me sick. I have gotten second and third opinions on this and they both agree that this is victim-blaming.

5) Obsession/hero worship/"love": Some people fail to realize this sometimes, but there is a fine border between hero worship, love, and obsession. Hero worship is venerating them as an idol and putting them on a pedestal, especially for saving you. Celeste definitely does this. Obsession is... well, I think we're aware of some of the behavior. Always thinking about them, doodling their name on everything, an abnormal fixation on someone or something. This is also Celeste. Love is more complicated to explain, but you don't fall in love after seeing a guy and being saved from a pack of wolves by him. Love brings personality into the equation and by the time I stopped, Celeste had still spent barely any time with Brandon. This might just be my perception, but I think she was in hero worship and obsession, but not love.

6) Nash: He's pretty much a rip-off of Trevor Mitchell from Ellen's Vampire Kisses series. Both boys came to like the main character because she was the one girl he couldn't get. Both are popular athletes who have numerous girlfriends. When the girl is not receptive to his advances, he bullies her (though Nash does it to pressure Celeste into getting back with him and Trevor does it to try and hide his love for Raven, which everyone and their mother is aware of by now). The main difference is that Trevor is cockier. Nash is the worse person of the two because he does the victim-blaming thing above, he cheats on his girlfriend, their dates consist of Celeste watching him at practice, and Nash is a general asshole to Brandon just because Nash is an Eastsider and Brandon is a Westsider. Trevor's a bully and an idiot, but he's not this bad. Oh, and Nash has barely-there self-esteem issues that I believe he tried to use to manipulate people.

7) Irritating passivism everywhere: Celeste's big problem is the Eastsiders and Westsiders don't all get along and hold hands and sing happy songs together. She wants everyone to get along and wants to change the status quo, but does nothing about it. She is unwilling to risk her reputation to date Brandon, the guy she likes. She is unwilling to reach out to the other Westsiders herself until she has to get directions to Brandon's house. That's all the interaction she has with them up to the point where I quit. One thing about change: it takes action to cause it, not sitting around and hoping for it. Do you remember how schools and the country got desegregated? People who opposed that practice took action and actively caused the change instead of just wishing for it and not doing anything. The only things keeping Celeste from trying to cause change are the restrictions she places on herself. Compare this with the threats of lynching, prison, and murder for anyone that wanted desegregation and made that known.

Making the Eastsiders and Westsiders get along might not have taken a lot of effort if she'd just tried it first. For some reason, she had never tried to befriend Westsiders before brandon came along and even afterwards, he was the only one she wanted to be near.By doing this, the Eastsiders and Westsiders will share her as a mutual friend. The two sides will inevitably be pushed together by this and may discover that hey, that person on the other side is pretty cool. Why was this prejudice ever here? A new friendship is born and sooner or later, there would finally be Oneside. Both of my best friends right now, the best girls I've ever known, were both met because we shared a mutual friend. Combining all of this, Celeste looks not like a caring girl who wants everyone to get along, but a lazy dreamer who is unwilling to risk anything for her beliefs and would rather think of all the reasons why she can't be with Brandon in public or be nice to Westsiders of her own accord.

8) Constant repetition of the tag line ("Beware of a kiss under the full moon. It will change your life forever."): I will tell you now that this was just a minor pet peeve, nothing truly bad when considering what else was wrong with the book. Throughout this book, I must have heard it at least a dozen or so times. Celeste brought it back up every few pages and by the fourth mention, I was ready for that to go away.

9) This book is soulless: This sounds like a weird insult or a pun, but it's not. What makes the Vampire Kisses series work is its tongue-in-cheek style. It is campy and silly and never takes itself seriously. Raven makes for a fun narrator and stuff that would seriously offend me otherwise is okay because I get the feeling that they're just screwing around. Unlike Vampire Kisses, Once in a Full Moon takes itself completely seriously. There is no life to the narration and it is just so dull. What made the book unbearable is that there is seriously offending stuff and there is no "screwing around" feeling to make it all okay.

In Summary:

It really does hurt me to do this write-up, but I can't keep torturing myself like this. There are still over twenty books left on my bookshelf that I haven't read yet and I'm not going to waste my time on a book that is only going to offend me worse. Maybe it gets better later in the book; it is possible that Celeste will realize how stupidly passive she is being, how awful her friends are, and how her "love" for Brandon (whom I keep trying to call Daniel, for some reason) is a mixture of hero worship and obsession. No wait, never mind. I read the lase few pages and it doesn't seem like anything changed other than her getting with Brandon. Love you, Ellen, but your book did not work for me. This is nowhere near as bad as Angel Star (which, if you have been around long enough, could only be stomached for 84 pages), but it's pretty bad.

What am I reading next?: Eon by Alison Goodman