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“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”  ― Winston Churchill

Fall (Seaside Novels) (Volume 5) - Rachel Van Dyken

2.5 stars.

This isn't as egregiously...stupid...as The Bet, the last Van Dyken book I attempted to read (I'm fascinated by why some authors are so popular and must apparently still beat my head against a wall.)

But neither it is a win.

According to the book blurb, if you look up "British" in the dictionary, Jamie Jaymeson's picture would appear. That's odd, because he acts and sounds like a teenage Valley Girl. (I lived in the UK. I know.) There is nothing British about him.

Jamie is supposedly an A-list celebrity with three hit films under his belt, which is why his agent sends him to cool his heels in a small Oregon town instead of, oh, getting as many film offers as possible before Jamie's celebrity cools as would happen in real life. See, Jamie got caught with three scantily clad girls who were "taking pills" (just how did photographers manage to capture the girls in the exact moment when all three of them were taking pills? How does one photograph "taking pills" in the first place?). And based on this one photograph, everyone in Hollywood has decided that Jamie is a risk (even though in real life, they would laugh off the photo and base their willingness to work with Jamie on whether he was easy or difficult to work with on his last films). So we're already in cloud cuckooland, and not the really cool cloud cuckooland seen in The Lego Movie.

Last summer, Jamie had an unconsummated fling with Priscilla, a good girl pastor's kid, so of course the small town where he is sent to cool his feels is the same town where she lives. Priscilla is perky enough, even though her parents are numbskulls who don't pay fire insurance or maintain working smoke alarms. You gotta give her props for surviving to her eighteenth year.

Or is she eighteen? Because at some moments, she is bantering like a twenty-six year old, while at others she comes across as a twelve year old who still believes in Santa.

Jamie - because he is a teenage Valley Girl - pretends to be someone named Jamie Hudson on Facebook with the express purpose of getting close to Priscilla online. She - because sometimes she's a twelve year old who still believes in Santa - of course falls for it. While at the same time fending off the supposed celebrity. Jamie has lots of time to put into his charade because he does none of the things you would expect someone of his stature to do: read scripts, negotiate endorsement deals, work with his investment manager to manage the money he made off his earlier three films, nada.

Some of the bantering between Jamie and Priscilla is cute and enjoyable. The only problem is that it is bantering that would feel natural coming from a twenty- or thirty-something, but reads forced when it's supposed to be a eighteen year old speaking. At other times, both characters act like immature brats.

Still, the book is far more readable than most self-published New Adult stuff. Again, the banter can be adorbs. And I am so over instalove. So it was refreshing to read a book that moved the characters to friends first before the OMG UR MY MOON AND STARZ 4EVAH I WILL DIES IF NO U IN MY LIFE.

I just wish more careful thought and care had been given to the characters. For one thing, there's no reason why they need to be so young; this story would work much better if both characters were at least able to drink legally. If Jamie and Priscilla were consistent and three dimensional, and if the plot were built around them instead of the characters being forced into the plot, this would have been a four or even five star read.