All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Road To Paradise – Paullina Simons

on July 25, 2010

It took me longer than usual to finish this particular book because I started it before we moved house and then put it aside to pack and move. It ended up in a random box and I only found it yesterday.

Oh yes, and there was the fact that I hated it.

I’ve read a couple of Paullina Simons books before and I’ve enjoyed them a lot, so I thought this would be quite an engrossing read. The blurb on the back of the book sounded interesting, especially as I’m a bit of a road trip fan and what the two girls were undertaking sounded like fun. Basically the story starts out with Shelby Sloane, who was raised by a woman not her mother. When Emma, that woman, gives her a car for her birthday, she decides to undertake a road trip across America from New York to California, to find her mother, who abandoned her at a young age. Her former good friend Gina hears about the trip and decides to convince Shelby that she should come along to get to Bakersfield, California in order to hook up with her former/sort of boyfriend Eddie who looks like developing a wandering eye if she doesn’t get there soon. Shelby isn’t really interested in Gina coming along but she is a practical girl who sees that a second person to share the driving and expenses would be very helpful.

What Shelby doesn’t realise until the trip is underway, is that not only does Gina not have her license, but she’s promised to ‘stop in’ to visit several relatives along the way, delivering things to them. Each relative is not on their way, not on the planned route that Shelby has oh-so-carefully mapped out. I’m sure these interludes are supposed to be humorous diversions, full of too-crazy relatives and dogs. Lots of dogs. But mostly they’re just annoying and show Shelby early on as a girl who has absolutely no backbone. This information is going to be very.very.important later on.

{{contains **SPOILERS**}}

Cue later on and they stop to pick up a hitchhiker. Having seen her once and ignored her, they see her again, an oh-so-impossible distance for her to have covered later, and this time, they stop to pick her up, despite their previously agreed No Hitchhikers policy. The girl, Candy is young but ‘worldly’. How worldly Shelby and Gina have no idea until they realise that every trucker on the interstate is tracking them and reporting back to someone who is looking for Candy. Candy claims that there is no doubt that if the person who is looking for her, finds her than she’s dead – they’re probably all dead.

Did I mention that Shelby is driving apparently, the only yellow 1966 Shelby Mustang? Soooo inconspicuous, no? What basically follows is a LOT of driving to random parts of America that Candy decides she needs to go to, and lots of bitchy bickering between three teenage girls. They need to stay off all the interstates because of the truckers reporting their every move, so they take back roads and scenic routes through Nowheresville, America in what feels like 739 states. They take Candy here, they take Candy there, all along the same argument over and over, “let’s just ditch her” and “no, we can’t do that, what’ll happen to her?” Imagine that for about 300 pages and that’s the latter half of this book. And although Candy’s story is seriously screwed up and does inspire some sympathy she is so GODDAMN UN-BLOODY-LIKABLE that my sympathy lasted mere minutes. She doesn’t CARE that she has endangered the lives of these other two girls, she doesn’t CARE that she is the reason later on in the book that all their money gets stolen. She doesn’t CARE that Shelby is the only one who can actually drive and therefore must do all of the driving and is exhausted. She doesn’t CARE that they have to take 2, 3, 4, 10x longer to get to places because they can’t use the interstates.

And her answer to getting money? They should all go out and hook, because that’s what she’s been doing when they’ve needed cash! What, Shelby doesn’t want to? How bloody inconsiderate of her, after all Candy has done for them to get money! Ahh but Candy, you’re the reason they have NO money! And her reaction to that is oh well, now I’m going out to work so we can have some money. So be grateful girls! Ugh! I seriously just could NOT tolerate her. I don’t care how messed up her life was, it’s not an excuse to treat other people like shit, especially people that are trying to stop you getting killed and forgetting their own missions to drive you all around bloody America, which let’s face it, is not exactly small is it?

There’s also quite a bit of religious arguing in this book as Candy’s father is a trappist monk who raised her for the first 11 years of her life before she had to go and live with her mother (when all her life went to hell). They go visit the monk father in… I want to say Iowa, but to be honest, all the towns and states and roads all blurred into one for me after a while, and I’m not American so I don’t know them well enough for them to stick. It really could’ve been anywhere and I am not interested enough to thumb back through the book and find out where it is. Gina can’t understand how Candy can be religious after all the things she has done and Candy just seems to like to argue merely to frustrate Gina and the arguments go around and around and it seems the person who ends up the most frustrated, is me, the reader.

The ending also bothered me majorly. I really loathe books that blah-blah-blah for 300+ pages and then BAM! Action! Last several pages! But The Big Thing happened Offscreen/Offpage so it’s kind of like Shelby goes somewhere, to do something, for Candy (again!) and then she comes back and then it’s kind of a ‘while she was gone, this happened and we’re really going to tell you nothing about it except that it happened’. I feel like I was incredibly let down. What I got was 300 pages of bickering girls when really, what might’ve been more interesting is what happened to Candy after Shelby actually left. Did Candy {{even more **SPOILERS** here}} deliberately send Shelby away so she could steal her car, hock it and disappear with all their remaining cash because she had no use for Shelby now? Or did she try to draw the person chasing her away from Shelby? I find it hard to believe it could be the latter, because if so, why did she not just do it earlier?

All through this book, I just wanted to slap all of them, and I really hate disliking protagonists like that. I don’t want to read about people I think are borderline stupid in every freaking decision they make. I want to like the main characters, to cheer for them, to want them to triumph. A bit of adversity is welcome, even embraced, but all the roadblocks put up on this journey just got too much. Every single person Candy went to see who was supposed to help her, screwed her over. Every time they went somewhere else at Candy’s request it just led to more delays, more wasting of time, more arguments, more frustration. It’s not often I want to throw books at the wall, but with this one, I was sorely tempted more than once. I started off not liking Gina, for her lack of consideration at the beginning of the trip but by halfway through the book I was severely cheering for  her every time she suggested they leave Candy by the side of the road to fend for herself. She was clearly more than able – far more able than Gina and Shelby, middle class girls who’d never left their comfortable lives before, were. That being said, why did they pick her up in the first place? Because she was young, and they saw her twice and Shelby felt guilty. Why? She was nothing to do with them and she made it from the first place she saw them, to the second, faster than they did.

I think Candy was severely overdone. Just too much all round. Shelby was one of the most pathetically weak characters I’ve ever come across, the way she was so easily manipulated by Candy and ends up ridiculously attached to her in some kind of unbelieveable crazy almost Stockholm Syndrome.

I finished it because I wanted to see if who was chasing Candy actually caught them. But I got ripped off there too, as it all happened while Shelby was on some fools errand and we were with her narrative the whole time. So all in all, it was a very disappointing read from an author whose books I have really liked in the past. Massive let down.


(Book #43 of my 2010 50 Book Challenge)

3 responses to “Road To Paradise – Paullina Simons

  1. Shannon says:

    I LOVED this review! I had so much fun reading it! I’ve never read any Simons (for some reason, I thought she was Australian – I’m actually glad now she’s not!) but I definitely do not want to read this! I’ve come across similar problems, in genre fiction mostly, and they drive me up the wall. I’m sorry you read this but not sorry ’cause I got this to read! Sometimes, negative reviews are just more fun aren’t they!

  2. Thanks! Haha, I did actually have fun writing this, because I just had so much frustration in me after finishing this book that and it just had to come out. This book had so much potential to be interesting, and also, a bit scary, but the characters were so severely lacking. It’s turned me off reading any more Simons.

  3. […]  Book of 2010: Sizzling Sixteen, by Janet Evanovich, The Last Song, by Nicholas Sparks, Road to Paradise, by Paullina […]

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