Sunday, June 9, 2013

Novel Review: the Hookup Artist by Tucker Shaw

Rating (Out of 5): ~2 (maybe 2.5)
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publish Date: January, 2006
Spoilers?: Yes, the ending.
Buy it here: Amazon. Barnes and Noble. Powells. (Out-of-Print)

Goodreads Synopsis:

"In all my years of matchmaking it had taken me until then to realize: The trick was not to hope. Not for myself, anyway. I'd save my hope for the people I set up."

Lucas is a genius matchmaker, a hook-up artist, and everyone at Thomas Jefferson High School seems to need his expertise. When it comes to finding his own true love, things aren't so easy. He's had his heart broken and the prospects aren't promising.

But Lucas has bigger worries -- his best friend, Cate, has just been dumped, and he has to find her new Mr. Right. And right on schedule, a new guy shows up at TJHS. Derek is friendly, athletic, and the hottie of the century. As the matchmaker tries to work his magic, it seems like Derek is flirting with Lucas more than with Cate. Which makes everyone wonder -- who is Derek interested in, anyway?


I was expecting to like this more. I found it, very cheap, at a (somewhat) local bookstore, thought it sounded interesting, and got it. Given that the main character is a gay boy, and the not-totally original idea, I thought that it would add a little twist. And, in a way, it did, I suppose. Also, I found out after buying it, that I had read (and reviewed) another book by this author, which I enjoyed. That made it seem even better. And then I started it and wasn’t so happy.
Firstly, the beginning bits of the book aren’t very interesting. It just didn’t keep my attention very well. Then I pushed through, and it got better. And then it was just… eh, mostly.
Lucas, the main character, is a hookup artist. He’s recently decided to give up on his own love life, and keep helping other people. One of his friends, Sonja, tends to fool around with lots of boys. Sonja and Lucas also tended to joke around a lot, somewhat crudely, but I just don’t think it was pulled off very well. It was probably for comedy relief or something, but it just didn’t sound as natural as it should have. And their other friend, Cate, who doesn’t seem to care too much about boys, but they’re both trying to fix her up with the new boy in school, because they think that’s a good way to help her get over her previous boyfriend.
I think my biggest problem with this book is how centered it was on everyone needing a boyfriend/girlfriend. I guess I should have seen it coming, but it was so pushy. Sonja is always looking at guys, Lucas is trying not to but also pushing his friends toward certain guys. Cate doesn’t want a boyfriend, but then does want the new guy, and then is mad at her friends because of something they did. I just… I don’t know. I wanted someone to think that, hey, they can be fine on their own, too. They don’t have to be in a relationship. But no one ever really thought of that.
Also, there was quite a bit of crude language, and some mentions of sluts, and wanting men to change for the girl, that was all rather annoying and eye-rolling at times. This quote, for instance: "'I don't know. I just figured that since we had soccer in common, maybe he'd change. For me.'" I just don't understand that reasoning, and it almost pisses me off, by a lot.
Slut-shaming stuff would probably offend other people more than me, as I just found it annoying. The boy issue, as I mentioned above, also really annoyed me in how it was handled. And the some of the crude language just didn't seem necessary or flow very well, and I'm not really the type of person who gets offended or bothered by much crudeness or cussing. Also, the gay issue was handled rather badly a couple of times, in ways to hurt the protagonist and in the heat of the moment, but those really got on nerves. Also, I want to make it clear that I'm pretty sure it was solely the characters who were being jerks in those moments, and had nothing to do with the authors thoughts or anything.
One of my main reasons for keeping reading, I think, is that I wanted to know for sure how it was going to end. Because it was either going to end with everyone happy in a relationship or no one. And I guess I have to give it another half star because it ended in the latter. Only, none of them seemed particularly happy with that. And I didn’t really believe that everything should be fixed so easily.
I mean, both Cate and Lucas were in the wrong.  I don’t really think anything got resolved with Derek (the new guy). I guess how things ended with Julian (Cate’s brother, who was probably my favorite character) were okay, but I’m not totally satisfied with it. I’m just… not really satisfied with any of it, I guess.
I liked Julian. Sonja is probably second on my list, although I don’t think I got to know her enough. I found what was, or could have, been happening with her and this Alex guy could have been nice, but nothing there was really shown to have blossomed. I didn’t really like Cate. At points I thought Lucas was alright, but then he did something dumb, and it was just... dumb and he shouldn’t have done it and I don’t think he really redeemed himself. Derek was okay, but I don’t think what he was doing was really explained in any way.
I wanted to like this book. A lot more than I did. But I didn’t really like it at all. I’m left feeling rather unsatisfied. Most of the characters weren’t very good, the ending was iffy, the writing wasn’t very good or capturing at all. I’m just… I don’t know. Done with this book, I guess.

The Cover:  

This cover is horrible. Absolutely horrible. The book is out of print, and it's from several years ago, which makes sense for why it hasn't gotten a new one, but still. The cover looks more like it should be from the '90's. And while I wouldn't want anyone to see me with it, I also just generally don't want it to be on the front of my copy.

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