September Girls by Bennett Madison
Published HarperTeen 2013
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: Hardback from the library
When Sam’s dad whisks him and his brother off to a remote beach town for the summer, he’s all for it– at first. Sam soon realizes, though, that this place is anything but ordinary. Time seems to slow down around here, and everywhere he looks, there are beautiful blond girls. Girls who seem inexplicably drawn to him.
Then Sam meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and she’s different from the others. Just as he starts to fall for her, she pulls away, leaving him more confused than ever. He knows that if he’s going to get her back, he’ll have to uncover the secret of this beach and the girls who live here.
Well…I was expecting absolutely none of that. Before I started reading, I picked it up for two reasons – it has the word ‘September’ in the title, thus fulfilling that space for Bookish Bingo, and I had never read a book about mermaids before. Mermaid books aren’t really the most popular fantasy creature so I just never got around to picking up the few that were received well. This book has a beautiful cover and praise from E. Lockhart, so I figured I was in for some kind of magical, mysterious ride of a book.
This book was mostly like scooting very slowly on a line while being hit in the head with a stick.
I think the main problem with this book is it was really intent on being super mature young adult. I mean…the whole book practically revolves around sex. That’s it. That’s the book. There are so many mentions of it within the first couple of chapters, it stops for a while, and then it picks right back up again. I don’t normally have a problem with this – once or twice is okay – but that was the whole point of the book. The mermaids were practically an afterthought with some confusing mythology to try and disguise it as the subject for this book. It’s just totally unnecessary. The book is also really sexist. Sam and his brother continually objectify the girls around the beach town for their bodies and call them a plethora of things I’m not writing on my blog. Their mother leaves them because she’s decided to be a feminist (which is just a terrible stereotype of feminism and the reason why the movement is getting nowhere quickly). Even the girls themselves sexually objectify everything about them. That was horrible.
The plot in this book was also really lacking. Pretty much nothing happened but Sam and DeeDee’s relationship troubles. All of the girls in this book have terrible awkward names of shampoo brands too. There is no substance to the story. There are some attempts at creating a mermaid mythology through the tone, but it didn’t really work but just left me more confused. The writing style saved it sometimes. I really want Bennett Madison to get a pen name and some new story ideas. He’s a talented writer for sure – it just goes way unnoticed after all the stupidity of Sam and the lack of a plot. Sadly, I won’t read anything from him. The pen name is crucial.
Overall, this book just wasn’t very good. It was boring and lackluster. The writing was really nice and I think it could have led to something better if approached differently.