Monday, June 2, 2008

M or F?-- Lisa Papademetriou and Chris Tebbetts

The issue of book reccomendations is a very tricky one indeed. I mean, we book reviewers do our best to steer readers in the right direction, but good for me isn't always good for other people, and vise-versa. I'm currently reading a book that comes very highly reccomended by the blog-reviewing community, but which makes me want to re-enact the Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets diary-killing scene. Because I do think that it's entirely plausible that this book is posessed with the spirit of Lord Voldemort. But anyway. That's not today's review and that's not the point, either. The point is that a recommendation can sometimes be really helpful and great, but can sometimes not mean much at all.

Sadly, this proved true in the case of M or F? by Chris Tebbetts and Lisa Papademetriou. My friend Allison told me to read this book several months ago, and I got about halfway through before losing interest and getting better books to read. She reminded me about it last week, so I picked it back up... and soon felt the need to put it back down again.

M or F? is the tale of Marcus and Frannie, best friends and brain twins, looking for love. Between Frannie's terrible taste and Marcus's lack of oppertunity, neither of them have any boyfriend prospects. Until, that is, Frannie admits to her crush on Jeffery Osbourne, who is the perfect guy for her.

Or, perhaps, for Marcus??

When Frannie is too shy to talk to Jeffery on her own in the school's on-line chat room, she lets Marcus take the reins. He tells her what to say to Jeffery, and soon she has a date with him, which leads to several dates, which leads to a maybe-kind-of relationship. Things are going great- so why hasn't he tried to kiss her yet?

But while Frannie and Jeffery are bonding in real life, Marcus and Jeffery are connecting on-line: and Marcus continues to opperate under the alias of Frannie. At first, Marcus is only interested in helping his friend, so it doesn't really matter- after all, Frannie and Marcus are brain twins. But there is the tricky little detail of Frannie not knowing about any of it. And the more Marcus talks to Jeffery, the closer he feels to him.

Add a few slightly questionable habits on Jeffery's part, and soon Frannie and Marcus are both wondering: what's his preference? M or F?

Whatever the answer, it will test their friendship- and maybe even end it for good.

Now, you know, that isn't such a bad concept. It's a decent idea, and this book had potential. It could have been cute, fun, entertaining. It is, to some extent. M or F? does not have the makings of a great work of literature, but it does sound enjoyable.

Only, for me, it wasn't.

The whole book was kind of trying-too-hard. Frannie and Marcus are believable enough characters, but the conversation was stilted. It seemed fake and shallow and somehow off, for two people who are best friends. It's obvious that the authors were trying to be clever- and it wasn't really working. There were many stabs at both situational and verbal irony (M or F?) and all of them were so contrived. The characterization itself was kind of spotty as well- Frannie is too shy to talk to Jeffery in a chat room, but has no problem flirting with him face-to-face? Marcus won't talk to someone he thinks is cute, and Frannie is the one who isn't outgoing? Almost every characteristic and detail seemed like a plot device, so I guess it's not surprising that my biggest issue with this book was the plot.

The ending of M or F? is referred to as a 'twist' and is clearly meant to be surprising- but I had it figured out before I reached the end. Before I reached the middle. And I am terrible at predicting the end of books. This one, however, was impossible not to solve.

M or F? isn't a great book, but it could certainly be worse. Sadly, the two books that I'm reading now are worse. Both of them. I'm on a bad-book roll, so expect some scathing reviews in the near future.

I would not suggest that you put M or F? at the top of your TBR pile, but you shouldn't neccessarily throw it away either. If you're looking for something kind of similar(but better), I'll give you a reccomendation of my own: Pretty Things, by Sara Manning.

Two Frappichinos for this one!

In need of better books to read,



Chelsie said...

It's good to see honest reviews... there are reviews everywhere about how this book or that book is absolutely amazing, but seeing a review that actually says that maybe the book wasn't so hot, it just shows that us reviewers aren't afraid to speak the truth.

Now I could have sworn that I've read or written something similar to that paragraph I just wrote, but I cannot for the life of me remember where... Or maybe it's a bizarre sense of deja vu.

Heather♥ said...

There's an error in one of the paragraphs, but I'll fix it. Anyway...moving on.

This is a good review. It's not harsh, and I like that, because it shows how much you disliked it without being pure hatred that can't be put into sufficient words. I hadn't actually bothered to read the description for this one, but it does sound good. If I had picked it up on my own (that is, if I'd made it past the cover) I would have wanted to read it.

Hope. said...

You've been tagged for an author meme. View my blog for more details.


ambeen said...

Great review. Like Heather said, you showed your dislike without simply bashing the book because you disliked it.

BooksandLove said...

I think you also have to consider who is recommending the book because they may have different preferences which may not match yours.