Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Book Review of Can't Buy Forever by Susan Laffoon

My rating: 3.5 stars

Can’t Buy Forever is a YA paranormal romance set in 1950’s America, with much up the story taking place in the Adirondacks in New York. It is the first book in a planned series. In this story, readers will find a couple with a strong and loyal bond. The male lead (Nicholas Westley) has a dark and mysterious past, and the reader lives vicariously through the female lead (Odessa Drake) to learn more. Despite his traumatic past, Nicholas is a wholesome nice guy, and sometimes nice guys finish first.

The book particularly excels in creating intrigue surrounding Nicholas's past. The desire to learn more had me turning page after page to the end. The relationship between Odessa and Nicholas seemed a bit superficial at first but as their experience with each other went on, the relationship turned into something well founded and beautiful. In the first half of the story, she’s a largely passive actor in her own life. In YA especially, it bothers me when the most interesting thing about a young woman is her boyfriend, as I don't think it sets a good example for your readers. I did appreciate the lack of sexual content. I don't mind it in adult books, but appreciate when it's absent from YA. I greatly enjoyed the character of Elise, Odessa's spunky best friend.

Can’t Buy Forever is a bit derivative of the Twilight formula, but ultimately the book forged its own path into something unique. The synopsis would have done well to more overtly acknowledge there would be fantasy elements in the story. I enjoyed the twists, but as a reader I had to do some mental gymnastics when I realized I'd thought I was in for a purely historical fiction romance and wound up getting a paranormal one.

Can’t Buy Forever deserved a far more thorough editing job than it received. There are typos throughout, grammatical errors and frequent changes in verb tense. This didn’t decrease my rating because typos and errors can happen and I don’t want to judge a book based on how skilled an editor it had, but the errors certainly decreased the professionalism of the book. That said, there was still plenty to love in Laffoon’s writing. I don’t know how far along Susan Laffoon is in her writing career, but she has real talent. She’s a diamond in the rough. Some of her observations and descriptions are utterly exquisite and created an atmosphere I just wanted to *be*, though it's not sustained. The beauty of Laffoon’s writing, and the tone and writing style in general, is inconsistent throughout the book. 

However, with more practice and refinement, I honestly believe Laffoon could be comparable to Marilynne Robinson. Some of her writing is just as beautiful, complete with nods to religion. Ultimately, this was an enjoyable if slightly flawed read. I heartily encourage Laffoon to further cultivate her writing. I received a copy of this book from the author.

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