So for those of you who have been following this blog since the very beginning (as in, dinosaur-age beginning), you’ll know that I gave Claire Zorn’s The Protected a full 10/10 (back in the day, when I still did out of 10 reviews). Hence, I was REALLY excited to learn that Zorn was writing another book, and quickly got on my computer to request it.
Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy this one nearly as much as I enjoyed the first one.
The first problem I had is that the plot line is essentially the same, really. In The Protected, we have a girl who has lost her older sister – it’s a story about the road to recovery. In this one, we’ve got a boy, this time, who has lost his mum – also another story about the road to recovery. It’s basically The Protected, but with a gender swap and more “ayy, bruh, how ya doin’ matey??” (seriously, does anyone ever speak like that?).
Which brings me to my second point. The stereotype. It’s cool. I get it. Surfers are hip and young and swag and whatnot – but does Mitch really need to end every single one of his sentences with “brah” or something of the kind? It felt restricting, and he become more of a “brah”-saying puppet than an actual character. Sure, some people in the real world really do speak like that, but like most things in life, it’s only good in moderation and super cringey. (Even the parts that are super meaningful, he drops another “brah” and I lose my head, the whole scene goes down the drain).
And of course, as the title says, it’s a flounder. I can hear the confusion of the TGW newbies: “whaaa? What’s a flounder? Why is he talking about fishies?”.
A flounder is a term I use when there are lots of words in a book, but very little significant plot – in other words, it’s floundering around while getting nothing done. 40% of this book is Sam drinking and fighting, another 40% is surfing, 15% to deep, meaningful internal (or external, I guess) monologues, and the remaining 5% is him healing and things that are actually interesting. NOTHING HAPPENS FOR SO MUCH IN THE BOOK. As I was reading, I felt like the book didn’t really know where it was going – just plodding along until the ending came.
In the end, I don’t think this book was for me. There was too much moping and fighting and unnecessarily dicky moves. On the other hand, the surfing motif was good and a strong grasp on 90’s music culture, surfing culture, Australian culture and landscape, etc. I quite liked all the characters except for Sam- just because his mother’s dead doesn’t mean he has to go round being a dick to everyone and anyone who tries their best to help him.
God, Sam, take a leaf out of Hannah’s book, will you?
Thank you to UQP for sending me a review copy!
It’s 1997 and seventeen-year-old Sam is mourning the sudden loss of his mum …
Sam has always had things going on in his head that no one else understands, even his mum. And now she’s dead, it’s worse than ever.
With nothing but his skateboard and a few belongings in a garbage bag, Sam goes to live with the strangers his mum cut ties with seven years ago: Aunty Lorraine and his cousins Shane and Minty.
Despite the suspicion and hostility emanating from their fibro shack, Sam reverts to his childhood habit of following Minty around and is soon surfing with Minty to cut through the static fuzz in his head. But as the days slowly meld into one another, and ghosts from the past reappear, Sam has to make the ultimate decision … will he sink or will he swim.