Hello friends. Ever since its announcement, Clare and I have both been excited for A Thousand Perfect Notes, aka a fellow blogger's debut! So, really, it was no question that we would buddy read it, and to share part of that experience with you and make this review more interesting - we're discussing it, instead of writing about it individually. Hope you'll enjoy this at least half as much as we enjoyed making it. :)
Clare: I have always loved Cait's quirky voice so I was looking forward to that but yeah, definitely wondered how that would work out in a novel with such serious tones to it.
Vera: That's exactly it - and because of how nervous I was about that, I constantly found myself looking for phrases she's used on her blog. Which is not an inherently bad thing - actually, I quite enjoyed discovering some of her, so to say, catch-phrases in the book.
"He's late for class. Late, late, late. Which surprises exactly no one."
Clare: I found that at the beginning too but as the book went on I became so absorbed in the characters and the story that I wasn't so much reading it as a blogger's book but as a book.
Vera: Speaking of the characters, what did you think of them? I'll say this: they are where my biggest problem lies with the novel, so I'd rather hear your thoughts before going all negative.
Clare: I think Beck's sister, Joey was my favourite character. She felt so real and well developed that it was easy to grow attached to her. My biggest problem was probably with August.
Vera: Hell, this is why I like buddy-reading with you, we have the same freaking thoughts lol. I adored Joey, too! She was precious and deserves all the chocolate in the world. Beck was really well-developed, as well. And, yes, August was my problem too. Don't get me wrong, she was sweet and lovely, but... perhaps too much so? It was as if August only existed to push Beck into the 'right direction'. She was very much a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. And that's not something I'm into.
Clare: Yes that's exactly it! I liked that ultimately her effect on the events of the story was quite small because honestly she felt more like a plot device than a character and as much as I'd love to know someone like her in real life it didn't feel as real.
Vera: Ah, yes, that's the word for it, she truly felt like a plot device. Which makes me sad, because I love nice character and would love to see more of them, but not like this. Overall, I feel like all the characters - even Beck and Joey - could have used more page-time. For example, it bothered me that we never quite learnt how the little sister's issues were handled. We know that she could get violent with her peers, and, at least on one occasion, she lied to Beck about it. WHICH IS UNDERSTANDABLE!! But I would have liked that be handled in more detail.
Clare: Yes, especially moving forward at the end when she really deserves to have a more resolved ending of her own. But that brings me to the abuse in the novel which I have a lot of praise for. I'll get super personal about this so I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts first?
Vera: I've never experienced abuse, so I'll definitely bow to your judgement, but for what it's worth, I was also really satisfied with the rep. The abuse was sensitively handled, instead of being sensationalized.
Clare: I'm lucky enough to have wonderful parents but my Mum was abused throughout her childhood and into adulthood by her mother. (And she says she is fine with me talking about this for reference). All the way through the story I was struck by how much Beck's experience resembled what my Mum had gone through and the things she has told me. I spoke with her later about the book and she also found it to be good non sensationalised and well handled rep.
This is also where I needed more of Beck's sister because my Mum (though not violent) has had struggles with expressing anger which she worked through in therapy and I would've liked to see an arc like that for the sister.
“She's going to see how bare the house is. How cold. How bleak. They don't own much, just useful furniture and filing cabinets of music. No decorations. His family collects bruises and German insults instead of crockery and photo frames.”
Vera: I'm happy for the confirmation, because the abuse rep was the strongest part of the novel, in my opinion. As for the ending - I completely agree with you. I loved the sort of unclosed ending, because I feel like it is full of possibilities for the future. BUT it would have been great if Beck had mentioned that he and the sister were going to see a therapist, or just ask for help, or something.
Clare: Exactly. A closed ending would have felt wrong and somehow unfair to the characters so I'm happy with how Cait left it in that way but equally would have liked more information on recovery.
Vera: This brings us to our final point- the romance. Now that was something I really didn't care for. It's not like it ruined the book, but it certainly didn't add much to the story. Generally speaking, I believe friends can be even more important for a person than romantic relationships, and especially considering that August was Beck's first friend, it would have been nice to see them just being that. Friends.
Clare: This is another way in which I really liked the ending (although that would be spoilers). I definitely felt like the romance wasn't needed. I didn't necessarily mind it, it just never really clicked for me and in my head they were always more friends than anything else.
“You are worth more than a thousand perfect notes”
Vera: Exactly. I feel like they made a lot more sense as friends, and I can totally see them staying friends for a long time, but... I somehow don't see their relationship lasting. I AM SO CYNICAL OMG.
Clare: With an open ending anything is possible but I must be cynical too because I so see them meeting other people.
Vera: Oh yes, I definitely see that happening, too. I'm not sure if this was Drews' intention or not, but I liked this. It's more realistic than the "we'll love each other forever after knowing each other for 3 weeks" bullshit.
Vera: Overall, with the exception of the romance and August I was super-satisfied with A Thousand Perfect Notes. The abuse was handled with care, Beck was a truly well-written character, and IT MADE ME FEEL EMOTIONS. What is this sorcery!? I do think it could have been longer, though, and thus more fleshed out, but especially as a debut this is a 4 star read for me.
Clare: For me, this was such a strong debut. The romance wasn't for me, but the abuse was handled so incredibly well and the writing style was really good. I actually adored the unclosed ending, I think it was perfect for the characters and I am so excited to see what Cait writes next! This was an easy 4 star for me.
Have you read A Thousand Perfect Notes? Do you plan to? Also, do you play any musical instruments? And, on that note, we'd love to hear what type of music do you like, and/or what song(s) have been stuck in your head lately?