Monday, April 28, 2014

Early Review: Royally Lost by Angie Stanton

Royally Lost
Author: Angie Stanton (website | twitter)
Publisher: Harper Collins 
Source/Format: eARC provided by publisher on Edelweiss
Expected publication date: May 6, 2014 
My rating: 1 out of 5 stars (DNF)

Dragged on a family trip to Europe’s ancient cities, Becca wants nothing more than to go home. Trapped with her emotionally distant father, over-eager stepmother, and a brother who only wants to hook up with European hotties, Becca is miserable. That is until she meets Nikolai, a guy as mysterious as he is handsome. And she unknowingly finds herself with a runaway prince.

Nikolai has everything a guy could ask for-he's crown prince, heir to the throne, and girls adore him. But the one thing he doesn't have...is freedom. Staging a coup, he flees his kingdom and goes undercover on his own European tour.

When Nikolai and Becca meet, it’s their differences that draw them together. Sparks fly as they share a whirlwind of adventures, all the while dodging his royal guard. But Becca's family vacation ends in a matter of days. Will Nikolai and Becca be forced to say goodbye forever, will his destiny catch up to him, or will they change history forever?


Review: 


I'm going to be frank here: Royally Lost was probably my biggest reading disappointment of the year. I had high hopes for a fun, royal jaunt through Europe - as some of you know, royalty and travel are two of my favourite themes. This book left me cold - so cold, I stopped at 25% and could not finish it.

In the interest of minimizing your time reading about sucky stuff, I'm going to keep this short by listing the good and bad.

The Good:

Lots of Historical Research: It was clear that the author had done a lot of research on European history and she was trying to convey it in a clear and fun way. I liked learning more about the Habsburgs and various museums and churches around Europe. Definitely a big part of why I like travel!

The Bad:

The Whiney Non-Characters: I was incredibly annoyed by the characters in this book. The prince, Nikolai, is basically every prince we've ever met - he just wants to escape the bounds of his leisurely life.

"As his ancestors stared down from their high-framed perches, they seemed to be asking him the big, important question. Would he follow in their footsteps and hold up his part of the family dynasty? Or would he let them down and become a brief footnote in Mondovian history?"

His other charming personality traits include: thinking Americans are ignorant ("...you obviously need some serious education in European history. You Americans are too ignorant about the rest of the world," he teased), being hot (according to Becca), and liking Becca.

Becca's personality traits are whininess at being dragged on a trip to Europe with her family, annoyance at anything old or historic ("...I know history is important, but jeesh! Live for today, people! I can't believe I have another week of this stuff."), and attraction to Nikolai. When Nikolai calls her a bright light in his trip, I just couldn't believe it. What's so bright about a girl who doesn't appreciate anything and just whines all of the time?

The point of the book was probably for Becca to learn a lot about Europe and to appreciate history and her family, and maybe we would have seen that self-discovery later on. But by making the characters so boring and unlikeable to begin with, the author lost me from the beginning.


The Insta-Love: Speaking of not caring, it might be believeable that two teenagers who are feeling lost and alone in Europe together would immediately hook up - but I didn't get the feeling that the author wanted Becca and Nikolai to be just a couple of stolen kisses because of the whole "bright light" thing. Clearly, Becca and Nikolai formed a connection that went deeper than the physical...but again, I just didn't believe it. They had a couple of hours together, and they weren't even hours that were described in massive detail - they go to a museum and McDonalds, all within a few pages, and then, suddenly, Nikolai sees her as the savior of his trip. It just didn't work for me.


The Simplistic, Cliche-Ridden Writing: The writing was the main reason I could not finish this novel. Good writing - or at least passable writing - has a variety of different sentence structures, interesting descriptors, and lots of showing-not-telling.  Royally Lost was so simple in its sentence structure, and it made the reading clunky and slow. For example, Nikolai thinks, "Why couldn't she be staying in Vienna for the week? They could have so much fun. She had helped him feel alive again."

Each one of these sentences is plunked down as truth, and it just feels very much like telling and not showing. Even though I had just read about Becca's and Nikolai's day together, I was suspicious of their connection because the writing just didn't flow right.

Another big part of that lack of flow was because every single descriptor in the book was the most basic, obvious descriptor ever. After their day together, Becca thinks,

"Today had turned out to be the best day ever. Nikolai had been the nicest, funniest guy she'd ever met. Suddenly all the pain she felt over Ethan dumping her for Kelly evaporated as if he'd never even mattered."

"Best day ever" doesn't really give me an idea of why it was such a good day. "Nicest, funniest guy she'd ever met" - what does this mean? What makes him nice or funny? And are there better words for that? And "evaporated as if he'd never even mattered" isn't really a simile or a metaphor.

If I sound mad, it's because I am. This premise had so much promise (yikes, alliteration city!), but because of the poor writing and boring characters, I honestly didn't even understand how this book had been published. Talk about a disappointment.

The Final Word: 


For me, Royally Lost had a great premise, but failed to live up to my expectations of it. Because of the unvaried writing and uninteresting characters, I couldn't finish it. If you're not super into writing and just really like fluffy romances, I think this one could be for you - I certainly hope there are others out there who love it because I think it had a lot of promise. It just wasn't for me.

Are you interested in reading ROYALLY LOST? Do you love books with princes and royalty? How about travel? Are you affected by poor writing in novels? Let me know in the comments!

5 comments:

  1. I have this on my TBR and I am honestly very excited to read this but now... I'm not so sure. Thanks for the review! <3

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment, Diana! I hope that if you do read it, you enjoy it - it just wasn't for me.

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  2. I'm excited to read it! I like that you back up your poor review with actual reasons and examples. I've read so many stupid bad reviews lately, it's nice to have a break.

    Anyway. Princes and royalty, meh, not really. Travel, yes! Poor writing - depends on the kind and severity.

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    1. Thanks so much, Sarah - I HATE writing DNF or bad reviews, so I always make sure I give examples - otherwise, it doesn't feel legit, you know?

      If you love travel, I'd definitely recommend North of Beautiful or Just One Day - much better writing...but again, it might just be me with the writing in Royally Lost, too.

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  3. Great review! I love Princes and traveling. <3

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