Sunday, December 6, 2015

ARC Review: The Trouble With Destiny

Title: The Trouble With Destiny
Author: Lauren Morrill
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: December 8, 2015
Source: eARC from Delacorte Press
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It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...

With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.

Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.

But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.

My Review

The Trouble With Destiny is the first book by Lauren Morrill that I've read. Yes, I've seen her other books in stores and online. Yes, I know people adore them. Heck, even I own a copy of Meant to Be. I just haven't found the time to read it yet because there are seriously so many books! I can say that I'm a little troubled after reading The Trouble With Destiny because things just felt a little off with the book. There were some parts that I really, really enjoyed, but there were also a lot of flaws that had me cringing because of the lack of research on Morrill's part. 

Like I said, there are some really good things about The Trouble With Destiny. First of all, I thought that the plot was pretty unique. As a former band geek, I was thrilled to see that someone was writing a book about a school band. I also loved the competition aspect of it all. The band and other high school performing arts groups set sail on a cruise, and they have the chance to win $25,000? Yeah... count me in!

Overall, I enjoyed Morrill's writing style because she really makes Liza seem like a teenage girl. That's important in YA, and I liked that it felt authentic. Liza has her ups and downs during the cruise, and she expresses her thoughts honestly. She's annoying when she's angry or upset, and she's kind of endearing when she's excited about something.

There are some great characters in the book, and I was kind of upset that they really only seemed like secondary characters. I wish that Morrill would have included these two guys in more scenes because they really made the book feel like it had more to it than it really did. The first guy you should know about is Huck. He's Liza's best friend, and I really enjoyed him for who he is. He's funny and kind, and he's definitely the kind of person that I'd want as a friend. Another character who I adored from the get go was Russ, the football player who was forced to go on the cruise with the band as a punishment. (Seriously!) He's just adorable, and not what I was expecting from a football/marching band story, so that was a wonderful surprise.

I also said there were some bad things about The Trouble With Destiny, and it made the teacher in me so angry. I felt like Morrill didn't do her research when writing this book, and it really disappointed me. First of all, the book lacks parent chaperones. When a group this big goes on an overnight trip, chaperones are needed. It's a legal issue, and most schools require that there be one adult per ten students. Why? They are there to keep track of the students. They are there to keep them out of trouble. What does Morrill provide in this book? One chaperone who doesn't pay attention to anything going on with his band!

The book also lacks the presence of a school nurse. This is also a requirement for school field trips because students are not allowed to carry medicine - prescription or over the counter - on their person. The nurse needs to be there to give the kids their medicines at the right times, but he/she also needs to be there for those unexpected moments, like a scraped knee or the stomach flu. (Seriously... I'm speaking from experience because I got food poisoning on a band trip, and if it weren't for the nurse, I would have had to be flown home.)

The competition aspect also felt unfinished. Yes, there is a beef between Liza's marching band and a show choir group from their high school. Morrill goes into detail about that, by explaining the feud between former BFFs Liza and Demi. We see them play tricks on one another, and we see them try to figure out how to coexist on the same cruise. That's all fine and dandy, but in the first chapter, another group, The Mechanicals, is mentioned, and Liza refers to them as being a group from their rival high school. Because of this, I was expecting more, and the lack of anything else about them really made the mention of them seem pointless.

I also had a few problems with some of the novels characters. Like I said above, Liza can get annoying, especially when she's frustrated. I understand why she's frustrated, but seeing her freak out on her friends is a little disheartening. She's also really, really thick-headed, especially when it comes to following her heart. Another character who bothered me is Demi, Liza's childhood best friend and now enemy. She's just downright mean during most of the novel, but she does eventually redeem herself. I just don't know how honest it really seems, especially after so many years of feuding.

I did find the synopsis to be a little misleading, though. When I read the words "drum major," I was thinking that Liza's band would be competing as a marching band. I know it would be hard to do a marching show on a cruise ship, but I was thinking that maybe they'd hit up the stage in a block band or march in and then do a performance. (I told you all that I was a band geek!) I was bummed when I found out that they'd be competing as a concert band.

Overall, I kind of liked the book, but I kind of didn't. I wouldn't say it's one that I have to read ever again and I don't think I'll ever read it again. I am glad that I read it because it entertained me for a few hours, even if it pissed me off. If you're curious about The Trouble With Destiny, I recommend borrowing it from the library instead of purchasing it just in case you aren't a fan of how things develop in the novel.

Lauren Elizabeth Morrill is many things, including, but not limited to, a writer, an educator, a bad ass roller derby skater, a former band nerd, an aggressive driver, and a die-hard Mac person. She also watches a lot of TV, eats a lot of junk food, and drinks a lot of Coke. It's a wonder her brain and teeth haven't rotted out of her head.

Lauren is the author of Meant to Be, Being Sloane Jacobs, The Trouble With Destiny, and the forthcoming My Unscripted Life (October 2016), all from Random House.

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