Hello, lovelies! I hope you're doing well!
I'm deciding I'm wanting to try something new in my reviewing process. Honestly, I'm still trying to figure out what works best for me. And this might be it.
Here's the plan. I have read about half of Icebreaker by Hannah Grace and I have some thoughts. So, at this point in time, I am going to give you my midpoint thoughts. The layout of these articles may be changing as I find a way to better express how I feel about a book. But this is a trial run, if you will.
To be completely honest, I was enjoying this book. I tried reading it in January but could not get into it until I had packed up all my books and had nothing else to read (sorry, Hannah, it's not you, it's me).
Once I really got into the story, I found myself smiling and laughing at the banter. The characters were funny and relatable. Nathan Hawkins, one of the love interests, was in fact a golden retriever main male character (mmc).
And then that kind of changed. I'm not sure when it happened, but my opinion of him was altered. I no longer saw him as a golden retriever mmc. Before we move on, let's just define a golden retriever mmc. To Urban Dictionary we go!
I think somewhere in the first quarter of the book, I saw him as more protective than golden retriever. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see a golden retriever wanting to tear someone to shreds because someone is giving his owner (or in this case, love interest) a little attention because she has this charismatic appeal to her.
It just got to the point where I don't need to read for the umpteenth time that if someone looks at his girl a certain way, even if it's one of his roommates who definitely aren't interested in her but giving her attention to annoy the crap out of him, he'll rip their heads off. It's just a little too much.
And then we got to the "third-act breakup," something some enjoy and others don't. I'm kind of indifferent. HOWEVER, it should not be happening on page 185 when it's a 429 page book. Like, what else is going to happen for the last 244 pages? They make up four chapters later and then there's still over 200 pages left of what?
Also, with the "third-act breakup," there is a conflict that makes the couple break up. This conflict, in my opinion, is so obvious, it hurts. I'll have a spoiler section at the bottom of this article for those who want to know what I'm talking about or know and just want to join in on the convo. Regardless, it is so glaringly obvious, it made me want to put the book down.
However, I'm not going to. I want to see what the hype is about. But, I will DNF (did not finish) if I get about 60% of the way through and still find the plot to be laughable and outlandish.
Also, the character of Anastasia Allen -- I see her as an unreliable narrator. Again, I'll go into why at the bottom.
Anywho, those are my midpoint thoughts. I'll check back in later.
Okay, so I might still be reading so I have something to gripe about and/or because I'm really hoping it gets better.
But nope. I am approximately 64% of the way through the book and it isn't getting better. In fact, it might be getting worse.
For those who are deciding on whether to read the book or not, be warned that I am starting spoilers after this point. If you plan on reading, please stop here.
You've been warned.
If you're still here, you've either already read the book or you don't care to be spoiled. Either way, welcome.
Listen, I'm going to try to be as nice as I possibly can because I don't like being mean, especially when I know someone worked so hard on sharing a story. As a writer myself, I know how much effort goes into this. But, in the grand scheme of things, this is only my opinion, which really holds no weight.
If you enjoyed this book, I'm glad you did! I'm not trying to discredit why you liked it or make you feel bad for enjoying the book. Every reader is different. We all have different tastes. And I, for one, have learned that I don't like books that rely solely on spice. The plot was almost nonexistent. I saw a review that said there was too much going on and nothing going on all at once. And I one hundred percent agree. The plot was what it was. I did see something explaining that this book is a case of cover catfish and I totally agree.
Also, if you're going to claim it's a sports romance, maybe actually have the main character going to a game or meet. Like, Hannah Grace literally only mentioned practices. There was no actual game action. We didn't see Anastasia's POV at a game or Nate's POV at a skating competition (Update: This did happen, but at the end of the book; basically in the last 10-15%). If you're going to define it as a sports romance, have more than sports talk happening. That would be like saying my character is a successful teen author, but we don't see her writing or at signings or figuring out how to balance writing and school, we just hear that she wrote that day.
Which brings me to my next point that there was a whole lot of telling and not showing. I want to see Anastasia cheering Nate on at a game. I want to see Nate giving Anastasia flowers after making it to nationals. Neither happened.
Here's where the spoilers come in:
So, the "third-act breakup": Aaron is injured. He claims Nathan left something in front of his locker, resulting in him slipping and injuring himself. Considering Anastasia and Nate have basically been conjoined at the hip, it is so laughable to think that she believes Aaron. And that Nathan "confessed" even though he didn't do it. And nothing gets resolved. Like, Nate and Anastasia get back together super quickly, but they never talk about Aaron's injury again (keep in mind, I'm still 64% of the way through). I am 100% sure I know who hurt Aaron: he did it and framed Nate to keep Anastasia from him and keep her glued to his [Aaron's] side. That's just my theory. (Update: I was kind of right; Aaron got injured playing football at a party and blamed Nathan -- shocker.)
And then, later (around the 64% mark), there is a Christmas party. Aaron shows up to cause crap. The boys and Anastasia are sitting in the backyard of the house and they hear yelling. Nate and the others run in and immediately after they run in, Lola (Anastasia's best friend) calls her to tell her about the fight and she [Anastasia] first thinks "I hope Nathan isn't fighting."
Like, make this make sense. Nate runs into the house and Anastasia immediately gets a call about the fight and she hopes it isn't him? Sis, how could it be? The fight started before he ran in. He heard the yelling (the fight) so he ran in. Which, plausibly speaking, Nate is not the perpetrator. Someone else is.
Anastasia is so naive. And she is such an unreliable narrator. She sets Aaron on this high pedestal and is quick to point the blame to Nathan. How is this a healthy relationship? Why are we romanticizing this relationship?
Again, I'll come back with more thoughts. I'll let you know what I think of the ending. Or if I DNF it, which is highly plausible by this point. I guess we'll see.
We have another update...
As I'm writing this, it has been three days since I finished the book and I'm so glad it's over. I know I'm sounding mean and like a snob, but trust me when I say this doesn't happen often.
There are quite a few problems I have with this book, if you haven't been able to tell. For one, Anastasia tries way too hard to defend Aaron and his actions. She tries to justify them. I get that people often justify their abuser's actions, but this is done to a degree that it comes across as more irritating than it is believable. I understand her wanting to give Aaron the benefit of the doubt, but it's so repetitive and just gives me a headache.
There really isn't a lot of character development going on here. It's all spice. There's nothing wrong with this, but I need a book with character development. How did the conflict make them stronger as individuals? Do I believe them? That kind of thing. And with this, the epilogue did not match up with the characters at the end of the book. I get that a two-year time frame can change people, but we didn't see that change in the last chapter and we suddenly do in the epilogue?
There's also the way they discussed eating disorders in a way where it did not impact the plot. And if it did, it was by a small margin. I also hate how stupid Hannah Grace made Nathan. Like, boy, do you not know what a curling iron is? Or that girls curl their hair in sections, not strand by strand? This doesn't make him a swoonworthy character. This makes him laughable. I'm laughing at him.
This book wasn't for me. Clearly. And I know I came off as snobbish and that wasn't intentional (okay, some of it was). I always say that every reader is different. One of my best friends loves this book and I just don't. And that's okay. That doesn't make me love her less. She doesn't like one of my favorite books, so we're even. In the grand scheme of things, my opinion is just that: an opinion. It means nothing.
Final rating: 1.5
If you've read this book and you love it, I'm so glad you did! It is so powerful when a reader can connect with a book in any way and I'm so happy for you. Keep on reading!
If you haven't read it, and you still want to, you do you! You might end up liking it. Again, we're all different.
Regardless, thank you for reading my review. I hope you got a few laughs.
What's one book you like that others might not? Mine is The Love Hypothesis. Let me know what yours is! This is a safe space!