Jun 16, 2014

Review: The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson

Title: The Prince of Venice Beach
Author: Black Nelson
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: June 3, 2014
Pages/Format: 240, ARC
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Robert "'Cali" Callahan is a teen runaway, living on the streets of Venice Beach, California. He's got a pretty sweet life: a treehouse to sleep in, a gang of surf bros, a regular basketball game...even a girl who's maybe-sorta interested in him.

What he doesn't have is a plan.

All that changes when a local cop recommends Cali to a private investigator who is looking for a missing teenager. After all, Cali knows everyone in Venice. But the streets are filled with people who don't want to be found, and when he's hired to find the beautiful Reese Abernathy, who would do anything to stay hidden, Cali must decide where his loyalties truly lie.

Book in One Word: Okay.

First and foremost, a big thanks to Jen at Jenuine Cupcakes for giving me an ARC of The Prince of Venice Beach!

The Prince of Venice Beach follows a teenage boy people call Cali who's homeless (well, he lives in someone's tree house) in, you guessed it, Venice Beach, California. When a private investigator approaches Cali for help finding someone (and more people of the like approach him thereafter), Cali decides he likes the job and wants to become a private investigator, so he should clean his life up a bit and actually do something, besides surfing, skateboarding, and playing basketball. But when he questions what happened with one guy he helped find and he finds a girl who doesn't want to be found, Cali wonders if being a private investigator is what he really wants to do.

I didn't dislike this book, but I didn't love it, either. The writing's okay, and there's a sort of gritty, summery feel to it, but The Prince of Venice Beach just doesn't really stand out. Yes, it was a pretty quick read and there's something kind of engrossing about it, but it's one of those books that you read and are just like, "Okay." I don't regret reading it, but it doesn't make a great impression on what I've already read.

All that said, I really liked Cali and the story, despite its credibility. One thing that stood out in this novel was its eclectic cast of characters. From Cali's basketball and street buddies (Jojo, Diego, Jax, and Strawberry) to Reese Abernathy (who I didn't care for too much, maybe because she was in the way of what I was shopping) to the kind of dorky Ailis (who I shipped him with, and I still have no idea how to pronounce her name), they each had a different role in Cali's life, and it was fun when he was with them.

Hmm, what else can I say about The Prince of Venice Beach? It's a nice, shorter read that's great for summer and is filled with likable characters and an interesting plot. While it certainly wasn't my favorite book, I can't recall any glaring issues I had (though I don't necessarily care for Cali so quickly becoming entranced with Reese), and there's something that makes you like this book more than you dislike it, I think. In the end, it just would've been nice to get more from this novel (and that ending was not an ending and not enough). (But that doesn't mean I know what the more is, so...)

Did I like it? Yes.
Did I love it? No.
Would I reread it? No.
Would I purchase it? Eh, I'm okay without owning this.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of detective-ish stories (but not like Nancy Drew or thrillers), beach settings, and good main characters.

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