Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date: May 3rd 2016
1 OUT OF 5 STARS
“But here’s the deal, dingus: Life begets life.”
Disclaimer: A copy of this novel was received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Taco is as happy as happy gets and he’s in love with Maggie Corrigan. Unfortunately love leads to certain recreational activities and Maggie ends up pregnant. Taco wants to do what’s best for his lady pal and his baby but there might be too much on his plate for him to handle.
The romance between Taco and Maggie is weak, especially when it should be the steady center of the story. There’s barely any chemistry. The “show don’t tell” rule is entirely ignored. We are told that both Maggie and Taco are deep in love but we don’t ever see any realistic affection. What we do see is a lot of fooling around and fighting.
The characters themselves aren’t even believable. Maggie and her mother are both crazy verging on abusive women. It feels more like Maggie is using Taco the entire time than anything. Every adult in the book is either sweet and understanding all the way or an absolute scumbag of a person. There are few adults who live in the shades of gray that most people do. The worst of the bunch is Taco.
Taco feels entirely fake. He force optimism on himself, and even when he does get sad it doesn’t feel right. He’s also mentioned as being a bright kid several times even though every action in the book would cast him as dangerously stupid. He climbs houses, lets Maggie push him around and worst of all has copious amounts of sex with no protection and is shocked that she gets pregnant. Perhaps this was once upon a time believable. In the present though no “bright” kid wouldn’t know about birth control or even just the basics about how babies happen. At one point he thinks Maggie’s boobs are haunted, all the while the book wants us to believe he’s a clever seventeen year old.
This also makes the writing of the book suffer because it is narrated by Taco. That isn’t to say that dumb characters cannot narrate books effectively, just that Herbach didn’t manage good characterization. Taco thinks about smart things but will suddenly flip into being as dumb as a brick. It was also irritating that every few sentences he would throw in a dingus or pal. It’s clearly meant as an attempt to colour the writing in favour of the character but it just feels hammy.
Despite Taco ignoring the law and several adults good advice, nothing goes that bad for Taco. He gets jobs from sheer luck, find adults who want to right his mistakes at every turn and it’s just not satisfying. Taco got someone pregnant, trespassed and that’s not even covering the crimes his brother committed but everything is fine. Taco stays optimistic so life just cleans up after him. None of the characters who should face consequences face any. Everything works out great because even if you’re reckless and don’t think realistically about life just be happy.
What an awful moral for a story to have.