All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Book Ninja by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

on June 19, 2018

The Book Ninja
Ali Berg & Michelle Kalus
Simon & Schuster
2018, 337p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/}:

Sometimes love means having to broaden your literary horizons.

Frankie Rose is desperate for love. Or a relationship. Or just a date with a semi-normal person will do.

It’s not that she hasn’t tried. She’s the queen of online dating. But enough is enough. Inspired by her job at The Little Brunswick Street Bookshop, Frankie decides to take fate into her own hands and embarks on the ultimate love experiment.

Her plan? Plant her favourite books on trains inscribed with her contact details in a bid to lure the sophisticated, charming and well-read man of her dreams.

Enter Sunny, and one spontaneous kiss later, Frankie begins to fall for him. But there’s just one problem – Frankie is strictly a classics kind of gal, and Sunny is really into Young Adult. Like really.

A quirky and uplifting love letter to books, friendship and soulmates.

Sometimes a book sounds so perfect for you on paper that it’s almost inconceivable to realise that it isn’t. And for me, that was this book. Based on the blurb, I thought I would absolutely love this. I’d heard a lot of really positive things too and I’m a big fan of the Books On The Rail project, which the authors are involved in. But when I began this, I discovered that unfortunately for me, it was not to my liking at all.

And I have lots of reasons why – the first one was the main character’s book snobbery when a handsome man comes into the bookstore she’s working in. Her and her friend make bets with each other about where in the store people will go, a guess to their literary tastes. When this man buys a young adult fiction book, the main character Frankie is horrified. Why would he be buying something from that section, he’s a grown man? I mean young adult fiction has its place and all but surely it’s something people you know, grow out of right? And then they start reading real books, like the classics, literary fiction, clever fiction. He’s so attractive but she can’t possibly be attracted to a person who still reads young adult fiction, despite not being a young adult anymore!

Oh hell no. So I was set against Frankie from then to be honest. Her name is ridiculous (Frankston. And if you’re thinking hey, that’s kind of a colourful suburb in south-east Melbourne, why would anyone call their kid that then ding ding ding you’re a winner. She is named after Frankston. Because she was conceived on the Frankston train line. And that’s {a} far too much information and {b} gross. Keep your business off of public transport). Luckily she can be nicknamed Frankie. What if her parents had been on the Upwey line? Or Werribee? Pakenham? Craigieburn? Ugh.

Quirky can be good, but there’s such thing as too much quirky and this book has it in spades. Everyone is quirky. Frankie is quirky, her best friend is quirky, the best friend’s husband is quirky, Frankie’s mother is most definitely quirky. The random teenager that comes and hangs out is quirky. The love interest is quirky. The randoms that find the books Frankie leaves on the trains and contact her for a date are quirky. There’s so many ‘quirky’ people in this book that I was just craving someone regular who wasn’t an acrobat or afraid of bananas or a stalker.

There’s a subplot in this book revolving around Frankie’s best friend Cat, who owns the bookstore Frankie works in with her husband Claud. Cat is pregnant and I don’t want to spoil this subplot but it actually made me rage. It annoyed me so much I had to put the book aside and take deep breaths before I picked it up again. Actually I considered DNF’ing this more than once but one of the things that kept me going was actually what would happen with Cat. Well why did I bother? Because after dominating parts of the story, the reveal and resolution all happens in about a paragraph “off page” and is kind of hastily recounted to Frankie in a few sentences and that’s it and why did it take up so much page space then? Ugh. It’s horrid, it made me hate Cat. Honestly Frankie was such an enabler of Cat’s bad behaviour, she never once said to her WHY THE HELL ARE YOU DOING THIS, THIS IS HORRIBLE and instead just kind of petted and soothed her or whatever and it made Cat’s husband look completely stupid, despite supposedly being a very intelligent man. I felt incredibly sorry for him, this was passed off as almost a little funny joke, like ha ha ha he doesn’t notice this very obviously noticeable and important thing that will probably break his heart BUT HOW COULD HE NOT and okay I’m getting angry again even just writing this review. It’s not funny. I didn’t find anything about that whole story funny, it was cruel and shallow and actually chronically UNFUNNY.

But I think the biggest problem I had was the hypocrisy. It was everywhere. Frankie finds a photo of the YA reader (did I mention his name? It’s Sunny Day *eyeroll*)  with another woman as the screen lock photo on his phone after they’ve been dating a little while. She flips out, conveniently forgetting that she’s also dating a bunch of randoms behind his back who are finding the books she leaves on public transport, as fodder for her blog. The photo turns out to be from a bunch of years ago and is another hugely improbable part of this book. And the ending? Is just far too ridiculous for words.

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this.


Book #101 of 2018

One response to “Review: The Book Ninja by Ali Berg and Michelle Kalus

  1. This is the second review I’ve read within a week of this book and you have both said very similar things. Pass for me, I won’t bother!

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