Oct 17, 2016

Review: The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia

TitleThe Lovely Reckless
Author: Kami Garcia
Publisher: Imprint
Publishing Date: October 4, 2016
Pages/Format: 384, ARC
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I’ve become an expert at avoiding things that could hurt me—which means I will figure out how to stay away from Marco Leone.

Seventeen-year-old Frankie Devereux would do anything to forget the past. Haunted by the memory of her boyfriend’s death, she lives her life by one dangerous rule: Nothing matters. At least, that’s what Frankie tells herself after a reckless mistake forces her to leave her privileged life in the Heights to move in with her dad—an undercover cop. She transfers to a public high school in the Downs, where fistfights don’t faze anyone and illegal street racing is more popular than football.

Marco Leone is the fastest street racer in the Downs. Tough, sexy, and hypnotic, he makes it impossible for Frankie to ignore him—and how he makes her feel. But the risks Marco takes for his family could have devastating consequences for them both. When Frankie discovers his secret, she has to make a choice. Will she let the pain of the past determine her future? Or will she risk what little she has left to follow her heart?

Book in One Word: LIKELIKELIKE

Since I've only read Kami Garcia's Beautiful Creatures (co-written with Margaret Stohl) and liked it okay, I wasn't sure what to expect from something totally different from her: a contemporary. But The Lovely Reckless had a premise I find hard to resist: a girl falls for a bad boy street racer and oh, hey, her dad's a cop! I picked up The Lovely Reckless because I've been on a contemporary kick and was in the mood for quick and light, so color me surprised that I got all that and more: a book I'm in serious like with.

Frankie Devereux gained a few things after watching her boyfriend get murdered: PTSD, the inability to remember who killed him, and a general lack of caring. Three months post-murder Frankie gets a DUI--the last straw for her parents--and is sent to live with her dad, an undercover cop who busts car thieve. She's also forced to trade her privileged rich-girl life in the Heights (the nice, rich part of town) for one in the Downs (the rough, tough part of town). It's in the Downs, where the kids don't wear expensive clothing, have different attitudes, and are obsessed with cars, that Frankie learns a few things about life and what privilege really is. It's also there--and her new public school--that she makes new friends and meets Marco: resident bad boy, hottie, and excellent street racer.

Despite being in some serious like with this book, I still have to share a few, er, criticisms of sorts, the few things I have a slight issue with and that, in terms of rating, knock this down just a teensy bit. (Honestly, I liked the book too much for these things to really bother me, but they're still there.) The Lovely Reckless started off super strong, but toward the last third or so it started to wane off a bit. I'm trying to do this without spoiling anything, but let's just say that some things moved a bit too fast or happened too quickly for my tastes (and that the buildup to it all was lacking). I love a good slow burn and sexual tension (like, my gosh), and the build up and flirting and teasing between Frankie and Marco was so good. But once they collided things changed a bit, and I was missing what had previously been between them. (Also, for the record, her boyfriend died three months ago--maybe this was all a bit too fast, all things considered?) There were also a few times where Marco seemed...well, not babyish, but that's the first word I can think of. It's not necessarily a bad thing, but he wasn't the Marco from the beginning of the book, and I loved that Marco. And lastly (I think), there were just a few missed opportunities for something to happen, but instead of something happening the scene would be too short or would be glossed over and that development wouldn't be seen--and I think it would've been really nice if we could have seen it.

A super duper interesting element in The Lovely Reckless was street racing, and my gosh, I so wish there was more of it. (Missed opportunity alert!) It was just so interesting, and it brought a lot to the story, and revolving more of the story around it--showing more of it and immersing Frankie in it--would have been excellent and I was hungry for that (and I think I expected that?). Nevertheless, Garcia really brought street racing to life, creating imagery and energy in those scenes that put me there and made me want more. I'll be honest: I went driving after reading some of this and I didn't want to just drive, I wanted to freaking drive. (But I didn't do any street racing or reckless driving, I promise.) The descriptions of manual transmissions--and the trick to driving them--had me paying attention like a kid in class before a test because I actually wanted to learn from what was being described and explained on the page. (But I don't speak car well and I didn't get it, ha.) All the talk and elements of cars and street racing was new and refreshing, and it was a nice little addition to the story that was quite successful.

I really, really liked The Lovely Reckless. Like, a lot. It had that perfect contemporary voice with a tinge of grit (and I love grit), an engaging and intriguing story, and a romance--and love interest--worthy of all the swoons. I don't know what it was, exactly, that made me so immersed in this book, but there was something. I was immediately pulled in by the voice--seriously, sometimes contemporaries just hit the spot--and, therefore, the story. I enjoyed being in a school that was a new setting: the more dangerous part of town, the obsession with cars, the people, the atmosphere. And Frankie--and Garcia, for that matter--made sure to point out the differences in the upper class versus the lower class, showing how one lives this way and one the other, while also making the point that money and status aren't everything and less can very much be more. It's the rich versus the poor, the privileged versus the pitied, the livers versus the survivors, and it's done in a way that's delicate and real and not in your face or too angsty. (For the record, I prefer reading about people living in the Downs.)

Another plus point for The Lovely Reckless was the characters: some lovely, some reckless, some troubled, some oblivious--but nobody was really perfect, and they all played well at being real. Frankie's in a cruddy situation and mourning the death of her boyfriend, but she's also angry that she can't remember everything that happened and can't remember the face of who killed him. It turns her inside out, and she just doesn't care, and then she's thrust into a new situation, a new world, and it's one you have to fight in and work for--and it opens her eyes and thaws her heart a little bit. It doesn't hurt that she's caught the eye of Marco freaking Leone, who has troubles of his own, a little sister to care for, and who, beneath that bad boy persona, is sweet as hell. They've both got troubles and are made out of bent pieces, but together they might finally find something right. (Aside from their current friendships, featuring dimensional and strong secondary characters.) The only problem is that he races street cars--and her daddy is, fun story, a cop (who I loved, by the way, and I would have loved more from that part of the story, too). If anything, that adds a nice little something fun to the romance and tension--the kind of little something that I love and that helps add a certain oomph to a story.

For some reason I really struggled to write this review, and this review is actually horrible. Just let it be known that The Lovely Reckless and I got along swell. More than swell. I adored this book, okay? Like, I was super excited to see Kami Garcia on the Fierce Reads tour and get my copies signed and tell her how much I adore this book. The Lovely Reckless may not have been perfect, but it's the kind of book that I thoroughly enjoy reading, that I never want to put down and never want to end. It was written well, had very likable main characters (and a good cast of secondary characters), was stellar on the romance front, and had an excellent story to center it all around. Though I will say that, as a side note, the last few chapters absolutely through me off and gave me like the worst case of deja vu ever and why that happened is utterly beyond me and driving me slightly crazy. (Was this written as as short story or something somewhere?!) But just know one thing: If they're going to be anything like The Lovely Reckless, then I desperately need Kami Garcia to write all of the contemporaries. Now, please.

Did I like it? YES!
Did I love it? Almost!
Would I reread it? Yesss.
Would I purchase it? I waited until reading my ARC to see if I wanted to purchase it for Kami's signing, and let's just say I now have a finished copy on my shelf.
Who would I recommend it to? Fans of contemporary novels with excellent romance and a stellar love interest, fresh and compelling elements, and stories that you just enjoy reading.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

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