Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Review: Roomies by Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

Title: Roomies
Author: Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando
Genre: Contemporary
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Length: 279 pages
Original Publishing Date: January 1st, 2013
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: Audiobook from the e-library
Links: Goodreads Amazon Author's Website

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
It's time to meet your new roomie.

When East Coast native Elizabeth receives her freshman-year roommate assignment, she shoots off an e-mail to coordinate the basics: television, microwave, mini-fridge. That first note to San Franciscan Lauren sparks a series of e-mails that alters the landscape of each girl's summer -- and raises questions about how two girls who are so different will ever share a dorm room.

As the countdown to college begins, life at home becomes increasingly complex. With family relationships and childhood friendships strained by change, it suddenly seems that the only people Elizabeth and Lauren can rely on are the complicated new boys in their lives . . . and each other. Even though they've never met.

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr and acclaimed author Tara Altebrando join forces for a novel about growing up, leaving home, and getting that one fateful e-mail that assigns your college roommate.

Main characters: 2.5/5

EB and Lauren are two girls from opposite sides of the country. They each have their own life going on in their summer before college. I can understand this. It's such a weird waiting period between high school and college. You know everything is going to change, but you still have these few months where it hasn't quite yet.

Both girls go through realistic and meaningful changes in this summer. Key word: realistic. There were times that I wanted to shake both girls and ask them what they were thinking. But ultimately, we all have those moments and it just made it sweeter when they finally understood what they were doing wrong or finally had those epiphany moments.

I can't explain what more I wanted from Lauren and EB, but ultimately I just found them a little bland. They didn't stick in my mind and didn't make a big impression

Secondary characters: 3.5/5

The romantic interests for both Lauren and EB were not overwhelming to the story, but contributed just the right amount. That being said, there wasn't anything about either relationship that really wow-ed me.

Lauren's parents were fun and quirky and I liked how down-to-earth and realistic they were. EB's mom was something a little different, but I also appreciated how her and EB's relationship changed throughout the book. Props for making some really well-developed parents, which is sometimes a rarity in YA.

Writing style: 1.5/5

So, here's my big problem with the writing style in Roomies: I couldn't tell Lauren and EB's voices apart. I'm not sure if the audiobook accentuated this problem, because the girls voices sounded really similar and there weren't any visual breaks for me to separate their POVs, but I found that I would get confused and stuck in one girls narrative for a while before I could finally break and shift back. The voices weren't different and unique enough.

Further, sometimes the pacing moved really slowly. The dialogue and writing was realistic and easy to read, but I wanted it to pick up the pace in some places.

Plot: 3/5 
I loved the concept of Roomies and the interesting in-between period before college. I love how it focuses on the two girls going through the process together, but also brings in hints of romance and of family drama. As I mentioned before, the writing could move rather slowly, but I don't necessarily think that it was the plot's fault. There was enough going on in the plot-line to move the story forward. Rather, it seemed to come from the writing itself.

Ending: 3.5/5

I really enjoyed the way that the novel ended. It definitely had that winding down feeling, which made sure that it wasn't abrupt. Okay, well the very last bit was abrupt. But I liked it. I think that after all those emails and phone calls and never meeting in person, it was a very fitting ending. I didn't necessarily like the way that the romances turned out. It didn't seem very realistic to me.

Best scene: Probably anything with Lauren & Keyon. How adorable are they?

Positives: Realistic characters, interesting and relateable concept, rather fitting ending

Negatives: Slow pacing, difficult to tell main characters apart, nothing exciting or interesting

Cover: Super cute. I love the colors and the hand-drawn look to it

Verdict:  A fun and light read about the summer before college, but nothing deep or exciting.

Rating:  5.6 / 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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