Saturday, September 7, 2013

Review: By A Thread by R.L. Griffin

Title: By A Thread
Author: R.L. Griffin

Genre: NA Contemporary
Publisher: CreateSpace

Length: 272 pages
Original Publishing Date: March 15th, 2013
Series: By A Thread Trilogy #1
Where I got it: InkSlinger PR

Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads:

"Stella's future was set, and it was a bright one. She was engaged to a man she adored, and was headed to law school in the fall. Tragically, her perfectly planned future ends just as it was beginning.

With no ties to family or friends, Stella finds herself alone in a new city, spiraling out of control. Her typical day comes to a close with her passed out on the floor; sometimes clothed.

Luckily, her new roommate, essentially a stranger, is dead set on getting Stella past her grief and back to functioning within society. Putting one foot in front of the other, she climbs up from the bottom of a bottle. Even with all her progress, Stella walks through life unfeeling, numb. Defiant, she sends out warning signals for the world to keep away. But, is that what she really wants?

With the steadfast help of a few tight knit friends, she gradually begins to feel again. She starts to savor the flavor of food again; lets herself notice how the handsome bartender glances at her. Still, after allowing herself a fling, she wonders if she will ever be able to let go of her shattered past, fully enjoy the present, or get over what she thought would be her perfect future and with the man who destroyed her heart."

Main characters: 2.5/5

Stella fell into this trope of main characters who are "broken": they numb themselves. Stella was the best example of this trope because she took it pretty literally. I could understand this after what Stella went through, but in a novel that spans over four years, it became a little excessive at times. At one point in the story she says to her friend: "'ll never understand how much I've been through". This line made me roll my eyes. Stella was one of those characters who could wallow in her grief and pretend like she was the only one who'd ever had anything bad happen to her. On the positive side, I loved Stella's sass and how she wasn't afraid to say what was on her mind. Her relationship with Millie, Patrick and Billy was fun and made her seem more down-to-earth. I love that she had ambitions and that she was in law school. There were a lot of little things about Stella that I could relate to and that were quirky or interesting tidbits.

Secondary characters: 3.5/5

The characterization of Millie was a little uncertain. She was very blunt and said what she wanted, but when she called Stella "bitch" as a term of endearment on the first day she met her, I was a little quizzical. That's not really a first day of friendship term. But besides that characterization flaw, I really liked Millie. She acted as a foil to Stella, which I really enjoyed. Patrick and Billy were great as well, although Patrick was noticeably more developed than Billy. George stole the show: I was emotionally invested and liked his stubbornness, how sweet he was, and the fact that his and Stella's relationship was slow-moving but passionate. There were some things that frustrated me about George, but ultimately I think that's what Griffin intended and it just made George more realistic and well-developed.

Writing style: 1/5

I didn't like how the chapters bounced around. Between the prologue, chapter one and chapter two, I was in a whirlwind of different scenes and it threw me off balance. This continued for the rest of the story. Some jumps in time were minor and didn't bother me as much but others were too large. I would miss out on months between jumps and then feel so lost in the story. The third-person POV also seemed to alienate me from what Stella was thinking and feeling.  It felt like there was a glass wall in between myself and Stella and I was watching her from a distance, rather than being emotionally invested. In addition, the lack of detail made it difficult to picture anything in my mind: from what the characters looked like, to the setting, etc. The POV shifts were confusing; one minute I would be reading Stella's thoughts and then the next I'd be reading George's. Also a little nitpick, there were a lot of typos in the ebook I read, enough that it made it really difficult to read.

Plot: 3/5
I liked the realism behind the daily happenings in Stella's life. I especially appreciated the fact that Griffin didn't skirt around some of the ways that people deal with heartbreak. In a lot of cases, alcohol is how some people deal and Stella's drinking habits were realistic of a college student and of someone who had just experienced a lot of pain and sorrow. The romance developed easily and fit right into the plot of the story. I figured out the twist from the beginning (prologue definitely spoiled it for me, so I wasn't a fan of that) which was exciting but wasn't handled as well as I thought it could have been.

Ending: 1.5/5

Another ending that could have been cool and unique and instead seemed a little mishandled. I was taken from one scene to another that had no connections and then suddenly we jumped three months forward for the last chapter. It would have been a cliffhanger but I felt like I wasn't even led to the cliff at all, I was still waiting at the bottom of the mountain for Griffin to explain what was going on!

Best scene: The drunken dare scene

The fact that Stella was pretty bad-ass, the secondary characters, George, the idea of the twist, the realism

Negatives: The writing, Stella's self-pity, the fact that the twist was so obvious and not explained well, the ending

Cover: I don't really like this cover. I'm not drawn to it and it's not very pretty.

Verdict: An entertaining read, but the writing and a couple other faults kept it from reaching its potential.

Rating: 4.4/10 (3 stars)

Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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