Adventure, Did Not Finish

Review: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick

Cover of "Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick," featuring a person with long dark hair wearing a leather jacket staring at a brightly-lit city
Image from Kirkus Reviews

Title: Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick

Series: Perry and Gobi #1

Author: Joe Schreiber

Genre: Thriller

Back Cover:

It’s prom night. Up until now, Perry Stormaire’s only worries were finishing his college applications and getting his band its first big gig in the Big Apple. But when it mother makes him take geeky, quiet Lithuanian exchange student Gobija Zaksauskas to the prom instead, Perry figures the night is going to be a disaster.

He has no idea how right he is.

Gobi has a special mission – five targets by daybreak – and Perry’s roped into it whether he likes it or not. Now they’re off like a prom dress on a reckless, no-brakes blitz through nighttime Manhattan in his father’s red Jag, going eyeball to eyeball with Russian mobsters and teen angst, high-velocity bullets and high school bullies, all thanks to the most beautiful girl that ever almost got him killed.

Read to: Page 64 (chapter 12)

Review:

This is one of those books that I’ve had on my Want to Read list for a long time, and when I saw it at the library I grabbed it without thinking too much about it. I put it on my list purely for concept – nerdy foreign exchange student turns out to be an assassin, boy gets dragged along for the ride. But I probably should have read the reviews before I read it.

Perry wasn’t too bad of a character. He could be a tiny bit irritating at times (especially when whining about wishing he had a girl), but for the most part, I didn’t mind him. Part of the conflict was him getting dragged around by Gobi while his band was supposed to be playing their big gig and he needed to be there on time – and I liked him enough that I hoped he would get there in time to play.

Perry was the best of the lot, though. Gobi went from an awkward, poor-English-speaking foreign exchange student who I didn’t mind to a hot, competent, complete jerk of an assassin. She only needed Perry because she couldn’t drive, and it seems to me that an assassin should know a basic skill like that. Perry’s friends were all irritating high school jerks, and Perry’s dad was so unnecessarily and purposefully cruel to his son that I wanted to reach through the book and punch him in the face.

I hoped at least the plot would be good, since that’s mostly what I picked it up for, anyway. But once the actual assassin part got started, it floated along on high-speed driving and Perry freaking out. Not exactly what I’d hoped. I only read 64 pages because I was bored and too lazy to grab another book – at least until I got so totally frustrated that I decided I’d rather go wash the dishes than continue reading.

A lot of Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick’s good reviews on Goodreads were good because “give it to a 13-year-old boy.” This book is carried purely by the guns-a-blazin’, secret-identities, super-secret-assassin stuff that makes the mediocre action movies my 13-year-old brother loves. But I wouldn’t recommend this book to him. Lots of swearing, bloody murders, a fixation on sex … all stuff I wouldn’t want any 13-year-old reading about.

I was really disappointed in this book, because Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick had a great premise. Unfortunately, the execution completely failed.

The Perry & Gobi series:

  1. Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick
  2. Perry’s Killer Playlist

 

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Adventure, Did Not Finish

Review: The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

Cover of "The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet," featuring a detailed drawing of a bird skeleton and an old-fashioned compass for drawing circles
Image from KPBS

Title:  The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet

Author:  Reif Larsen

Genre:  Adventure

Back Cover:

When genius cartographer T.S. Spivet receives a phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, a wild cross-country adventure beings.  T.S. sets out alone from his family’s Montana ranch, hopping a freight train with a plan to hobo it east to Washington D.C.  What follows is nothing short of extraordinary, as T.S. maps, charts, and illustrates his adventure – including mythical wormholes in the Midwest, the pleasures of McDonald’s, and a family secret accidentally included in his luggage.  But through it all, a nagging doubt lingers in T.S.’s mind.  What will happen when the director of the Smithsonian finds out their Baird Award recipient is only twelve years old?

Review:

I must be feeling nostalgic or something, because I seem to be doing an awful lot of rereads lately.  Anyway, I loved this story when I was twelve-ish, so I decided to read it again and see if it still had the same appeal.

The short answer: No.

I gave it a hundred pages, and then I stopped.  It wasn’t that I hated the book, I just got kind of bored.  Possibly, it was because this was a reread and I knew what would happen – not the details, mind you, but the general scheme of things.

But I think my biggest problem was with T.S. himself.  It’s not that I didn’t like him – he was naive, but sweet.  My problem was that he was a twelve-year-old boy, and acted it.  I know it sounds mean, but I just felt like I’d outgrown him.  His pre-teen observations and imagination that appealed to me at twelve just didn’t have the same appeal at sixteen.

He also had a habit of going off on random rabbit trails, including notes and diagrams and maps of really random things in the book’s margins.  These side notes were one of the reasons I’d originally loved this book so much.  This time around, I just found them annoying.

This is the kind of book that’s better for younger readers.  Like I said, I absolutely loved this book as a pre-teen.  It just isn’t the greatest for older readers.