It’s been quite a while since I gave out 1 star rating, huh?
Not that I enjoy or miss being sorely disappointed or anything (I really don’t).
And this time, sadly, I was actually in a good mood. I wanted to love this one so much than I actually did. A lot more. A whole lot more. But sadly, THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR simply refused to cooperate with me. I kept tugging on its hand, forcing it to stand up, to do something, but it shook its head, crossed its arms, and stubbornly kept its butt glued to the floor.
And then, as I stood there panting and exhausted from my efforts that had apparently proved futile, THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR resumed to stare into space and to drool absentmindedly and do absolutely nothing.
[I deeply apologize for that weird analogy. But I just can’t explain my disappointment any other way].
Let’s get into the whys and hows. Via a pros vs. cons list. ‘Cuz that’s how I roll. (Don’t worry. I have some pros that might appeal to other readers. Even though this is a 1-starer for me).
WHAT I LIKED:
•Nicola Yoon’s style is quite easy to follow. (Yes, this is my first book by her. No, I didn’t read EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING; partly because I [idiotically] spoiled the ending for myself on purpose, and partly because the movie’s already out before I read the book, and its kinda my rule of thumb to not read a movie-ed book). But anyways! Yoon’s style is plain and straightforward, and it’s very simplicity is what makes the book a light and quick read.
•The topic is approached believingly. It deals with undocumented immigration and forced deportation, and I believe Yoon neither idealized nor stylized the topic for the sake of a cute book with a cuter romance. There is no sugarcoating the issue, and that’s what gives TSiAS a spark of credible realistic-ness (I believe the word I’m looking for is realism?? But whatever. You get me, don’t you? I hope so, anyway).
•Natasha and Daniel’s contrasting viewpoints on everything around them is given enough page-time to flesh-out each aforementioned character.
But you know what, before we get into that specific detail, let’s take a look at our cast:
Daniel is the complete opposite of Natasha. He’s a dreamer. He’s a poet. His head is in the clouds. He is convinced he can get a random (but beautiful, of course!) girl to fall in love with him.. in a day. [i wish I was kidding. But I’m sadly not].
And then we have Natasha. Natasha is geeky and science-y and cares only for the facts, not sentiments. So far, so good. But she’s also cynical and disbelieving and sees no point in being optimistic and hopeful, and at that point, my dear friends, Natasha ceased to interest me. Yes, she’s factual and all that, but, at the same time, she came across as forced. Whenever something good would happen, she would refuse to see it as such. And that, frankly, is unbelievable. It’s like the author was forcing her to be cold and unattached, but even pessimists smile once in a while, you know?
Give me a second to clarify something, if you will: there is something that has to be acknowledged when creating contrasting characters: just because one feels one way and the other feels another, doesn’t mean they can’t agree on some things. Because if they are a complete 180 degrees different, they’re not called characters anymore, see? They’re called foils. And foils, in my opinion, ruin whatever you’re trying to achieve. Foils can turn predictable and one-dimensional really quick if one’s not careful. And frankly? I cannot buy a romance between foils. It just doesn’t work.
Are Natasha and Daniel foils of each other? No. But they did come too close for comfort to straddling that thin line. So very close.
And as for their romance? I didn’t think it was –
Wait wait wait, I’m doing pros vs. cons, right? I may have forgotten we’re still in the positives side. Please, excuse me while I hop on over to the DISLIKES section as I prepare to talk about the romance. Which I (surprise!) didn’t like.
WHAT I DISLIKED:
•Natasha and Daniel’s not-so-romantic romance. Look, there’s absolutely no way – No. Way. Ever. Period. – that you can purposely make a person fall in love with you in a day. You just can’t. And I don’t care about the science behind it (apparently you stare into each other’s eyes for 4 minutes and ask each other intimate questions? Ha, no. I’m not buying that at all), because you cannot explain emotion with logic. You can’t. And I’m angry that the entire book is based on this concept, because it is, frankly, nonsensical [and guys, please don’t even attempt to argue with me on this point. I respect your opinions deeply, but mine won’t change. spare us both, please].
Yes, I’m aware I sound like Natasha, but unlike her, I’d never agree to try it out, because a) who trusts a random a infatuated stranger? and b) you literally just met the guy, and you just agree to whatever he’s trying to do?? And you’re even getting deported that same day, and you have nothing better to do except to attempt to fall in love??
I’m angry. I am.
But after all, I’m an engineer. I think black-and-white-ly. I’m logical. This book isn’t.
Anyways. *breathes deeply* I’m calmer now. Let’s continue.
•The side POVs frustrated me to no end. Natasha talks to a security lady? We get her POV detailing that lady’s uncalled-for life story. Natasha almost gets run over by a car? We get the history of that driver. And Natasha’s father. And her mother. And the attorney. And this paralegal that is in love with the aforementioned attorney. And this one nearly drove me to the brink of madness: Natasha talks about how much she loves wearing her hair in an Afro? We get the POV and history of her freaking hair. I’m serious. I wish I wasn’t, but I’m dead serious.
You know what? I could almost stomach all the other (human) POVs.. if they were written well. If they, at least, served an immediate purpose, or just a general purpose, in the overall story.
And the thing is.. Yoon isn’t the only one, and I’ve lately grown frustrated from this very technique. Authors, authors, when will you realize that random side-POVs are almost-never interesting, and only serve to detract from the interest of the reader in your novel? And note I said: almost-never. Because only 2 authors know how to use this difficult technique to broaden their stories, and those are Leigh Bardugo and V. E. Schwab. Just these two ladies. (Please, if you haven’t already, do yourself a favor and see the opening and closing chapters of Six of Crows to know what I’m talking about. Or see how side-POVs are employed in A Darker Shade of Magic). All the other authors that attempted to use this technique, in my opinion that you are free to disagree with, were not successful.
Anyhow. Moving on.
•The many coincidences are impossible. There is too much coincidental serendipity in this book. So much, in fact, that I doubted the existence of a fairy godmother working behind the scenes. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if we got her POV at some point, too.
Aaand I’m getting mean now. I’m sorry. But it’s seriously been a long time since a book upset me so. Please bear with me.
Hm. I think I’ve hit all the points I wanted to hit.
In conclusion? I am very disappointed with the much-loved THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go pout in a corner.
Or find a better book to read next.