I'm DNFing this at 200 pages because it's boring me so badly I want to go to sleep. There is nothing creative or compelling that's hooking me. I hate feeling forced to read something. Plus, Andie is just another typical teen with "tight lip" syndrome. She just refuses to speak about anything deep or meaningful and then is utterly baffled when relationships fizzle. All the characters are flat and bland. No depth. No dimension. It's like the author watched a bunch of CW and Freeform dramas and thought that's what teenagers are really like. Not for me.
edit: After I wrote this review I realized there was a simple part of the story I felt like touching on: how to pronounce "Gem". She corrects 2 different people that "...it's Gem, not Jim." Okay, this is petty and I know that, but what is the difference? I seriously cannot tell. Was that really what you needed to write? Because I cannot tell a phonetic difference in those two words.
This was nothing original. Nothing new. It was a short read, and the premise was simple. Gem and Dixie live with their selfish, druggie mom in a piss-poor tenement block with no food. Their dad is gone, and their mom cares more about being their buddy than an adult. Gem is the mature one. Dixie is still starry eyed and refuses to believe their parents are bad, no matter how many times her heart gets broken.
It's full of typical young adult tropes. You just want to slap the shit out of Dixie the entire book. No matter the nasty words, the loud shouting or the fact their mother doesn't feed them, she just can't swallow the fact mom is a neglectful addict. "Maybe she has reasons..." No honey. No. You have to stop being stupid. It's getting very old.
The dad is your typical "I wish I was a rock star" asshole. He only loves himself. He does not even acknowledge Gem as his daughter. It's always "Dixie and her sister". "You know how your sister is." He's a douche bag.
I didn't learn much from this, except that I get tired of wading through the young adult muck to find the gold.
I'm not sure there is much worse to a book lover than waiting forever for a book to come out and then for it to fall flat. This book was just so....meh. Not bad, really. But definitely not what I was hoping. I wanted magic and romance and adventure. We got a heroine that was too stupid to live, a sister that was so horrid I wanted to set her on fire, and a love interest that I just had a hard time connecting with because the whole book gave me trust issues. The adventure was lacking and far too simple. The love was way too cliche and forced. The magic was hardly there at all. The whole Caraval show that the book hyped was never really shown. It was just in passing. I am so disappointed. I wanted all the magic of an Alice in Wonderland with the feel of a carnival. I just got a bit of a mess. At least it was an easy read. A blood-pressure-raising, maddening easy read.