Friday March 22, 2013
Case of poor chemistry
Review by TASHNY SUKUMARAN
The Statistical Probability Of Love At First Sight
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Little, Brown & Co, 236 pages
THE premise of this short young adult novel seemed excellent: 17-year-old Hadley Sullivan narrowly misses her flight from the United States to London, making her late for her fatherís wedding to a soon-to-be stepmother she has never met but already loathes.
While waiting for the next flight, she meets handsome British boy Oliver, who also happens to be sitting in the same row as her on the plane. The duo talk. A lot. And snuggle. And hit it off brilliantly (or so the writer would have us believe). However, upon arriving at Heathrow, the pair lose track of each other and Hadley makes it her mission to find him again.
I found this book terrible.
A poor manís Before Sunrise, the plot is cheesily executed. Strained, cringe-worthy dialogue, and absolutely boring side plots just prolonged my torment.
The character of Oliver falls short of being the dishy European that author Smith was obviously shooting for: heís moody and inconsistent, and no young woman should be wasting her time on such a jerk. His bad behaviour towards the end of the book is later explained away with a death in the family Ė but itís an excuse, not a reason. His dialogue is stilted and false-sounding Ė I donít actually know any British people who talk this way Ė and heís kind of a snob. (ďYou obviously do read some good literature ... I love Dickens,Ē he says.)
Hadley, too, is a pain. Come to think of it, she and Oliver would be well-suited if they didnít have such poor chemistry. She vacillates between angsting about her fatherís impending wedding to a really, really pleasant woman and agonising over Oliver. In between, she treats her mother poorly as well. I donít understand authors who write books for teenagers about teenagers, and then make these teenagers really bratty and cliched.
Of course, as is the wont of such books, everything is neatly and nicely resolved at the end. Hadley comes to terms with her dadís marriage to the not-so-awful Charlotte, and sets off across London to find Oliver. Even this part, the part thatís meant to be exciting and full of quirky Zooey Deschanel-type mix-ups, comes off as boring.
Her romance with Oliver is nothing more than a cheap trick to get you to start reading Ė itís trite and doesnít ring true.
There is little to no character development. At the start, weíre presented with Hadleyís emotional hang-ups: recently dumped, feeling abandoned by her father, witnessing her motherís hurt at being left for a younger woman, her dislike for her stepmother-to-be. None of these issues are satisfactorily resolved Ė instead, Hadley finds a new love, gets over her dislike when she meets Charlotte, and forgives her father because he ďstill loves her motherĒ. What? After pages and pages of the author setting up Hadleyís father as the bad guy, surprise! He isnít all bad. Why? We donít know, he just isnít.
This is a good premise that has been let down by boring prose and vague, ephemeral characters. I have to say that The Statistical Probability Of Falling In Love was a dull waste of my time.