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Ellen

A Read in Progress

I love any and all books that just let me escape, but predominantly fiction & feel-good romances. I'm also on GoodReads (for now) at: LN B

Everything Changes - Shey Stahl This was extremely bad. Mostly because it actually started out somewhat promising, and somehow managed to devolve to the extent that this author is now population-of-one on a brand new “don’t ever read this author again” list for me.

I actually started out with a big smile on my face and convinced we were heading towards a 5-star plot and characters (thus being extremely forgiving of the editing hell). I started getting pretty disappointed somewhere in the middle thinking maybe a solid 3 stars instead, but finally struggled so much even finishing the last 30% that I can't leave anything but a 1-star review. I barely made it, and as I have only ONCE before not finished a book, the fact that this came so close should tell you enough.

The clunky prologue I suppose forewarned me of the predictable dosage of YA-angst for our characters, as well as of some serious writing issues, but I was sucked in enough to the characters and storyline of first and true love that I was looking forward to digging in.

And I was glad I did, for a while. The story goes into a sweet, slow build of tender first-love tension, shy winks, and stolen glances between two characters that we can picture as real and want to know more about. I'm not into motocross/supercross, but the first half of the book does a nice job of introducing us to the lifestyle with just enough vividness that we get to envision our characters’ lives and feel a part of their world, while never being bored to tears with details we won't understand or (more importantly) don't care about or need.

On to where the problems start. Let me say simply that the editing in the whole thing is atrocious. And I'm pretty darn forgiving about poor editing. But entire words are missing, sometimes more than one in a single sentence; there are verbs when there should be nouns and vice versa. There are extremely annoying and overused expressions that seem entirely out of place; our sweet heroine, for instance, constantly wants to “fist pump the air.” How someone was able to find a saying more annoying than Fifty Shades' "Inner Goddess" is quite a feat, but there it is…

At around 55% in, not only does the lack of editing accomplish the impossible and find a way to get worse, it's honest-to-God as if the author got drunk for a month and then randomly started on the book again without re-introducing herself to the first half. Truly

(SOME MILD SPOILERS BELOW):
- there's suddenly an incredibly choppy and out-of-left-field introduction to a competing 'love' interest that's beyond poorly done;
- there's suddenly looong boring stretches of detail about motocross/supercross that completely take us out of the flow and make it hard to keep caring;
- there's suddenly completely incomprehensible and unexplained behavior by the characters for the sole purpose of trying to create an 'angsty' storyline of keeping the characters apart even though there is zero reason for this and zero continuity with the characters from before;
- and suddenly an incessant hitting-upside-the-head of the title words "Everything Changes," as if she needed to remind herself which book she was writing. Seriously, cooonstantly: "I was having a great summer. But everything changes." Yees, we get it. Very foreboding. Also very annoying; why do you keep taking me out of the story? Just focus on telling it in sequence, and I'll put it together myself without you being blatant about it every few pages...

The most egregious of those is obviously the behavioral problem in our characters. Up to this point, while I didn't always identify with the characters, I could at least envision them. I believed they could be real people, and ones I might even want to know. But now I can't even picture the main character: she has nothing keeping her in her town, i.e. to keep her away from him; she does absolutely nothing and has no ambition (no work goals, no college plans, no oomph to fight for her relationship). I can't respect her at all, and I don't believe such a listless mope of a person exists. And if she does, she doesn't deserve sweet Parker (though he's also turning into a bit of a dud by this point). I don't want to waste my time reading about such a person. If neither of them care to fight for the relationship, why should I??

All in all, just a super strange turn in the book. And the fact that I got this frustrated means the first half was done quite well. I wouldn't be this emotionally responsive if the first half hadn't drawn me in... what happened??

At 70-something percent we suddenly get a single chapter from the guy's point of view. Why? There is nothing revealed -- he's a whimp, he loves her, we already got that. Why add the confusion? It's honestly like the author can’t stand the characters anymore either and is just phoning it in at this stage. Literally, after a YEAR of not seeing each other, a phone call, she shows up, and this is the direct quote detailing the entirety of what happens next:

"So I flew to him [where we] spent three days together [and] as always they were the best three days of my life. I kept telling myself I would tell him [that I couldn't do this anymore, but] the opportunity never came up."

Wow. That was so descriptive. I can totally see how they were the best days of her life and then proceeded into more years of tortured apart-ness…??? No joke, THAT'S IT. No justification, no idea why or how that would ever be true, no feeling or description how they were the best days, etc. Just telling, no showing, whereas in the beginning of the book there was plenty of engrossing and believable detail.

We get some more cursory descriptions about how tortured they are, but years pass, neither of them making a move but also not being with anyone else because that would be "cheating," of course... Can't have that, now. You get the drift; we’ve migrated into eye-rollingly poor plotting, on top of the already disastrous grammar. I honestly can’t remember if they ended up together or not.

For me, any author that is prideless enough to actually hit ‘publish’ on something so clearly unfinished, unprofessional, and disparate in quality, I just can’t respect or trust to support with a purchase again. Sad to say, therefore, that this author has propelled me to create a “never read this author again” list, with a lonely population of 1.