Title: Cracked Up to Be
Author: Courtney Summers
Release Date: December 2008
Published By: St. Martin's Griffin
Goodreads Rating: 3.82 stars
Review: Perfect Parker Fadley is anything but perfect these days. She's lost all her perfect friends, dumped her perfect boyfriend, and is far out of reach of her perfect grades. Her parents and guidance counselors are on constant suicide watch with her and think she's playing games, but they don't know what happened - what she did. All she wants to do is get away from everyone, forget everything, and be alone. The problem is, no one will let her.
I adored the other two novels I've read by this author, so I was really looking forward to CRACKED UP TO BE. Unfortunately, it, well, wasn't all it cracked up to be. (Sorry, I couldn't resist!) It was technically well-written, as all her books are, but the story just didn't really do it for me. I don't mean to say that it was a bad book, because I still liked reading it, but I found myself continually disappointed.
First of all, it was near impossible to sympathize with Parker. I realize she's going through an incredible amount of difficult times, but this often was not enough to excuse her cruel and bratty behavior. She was insanely rude to her former friends, her parents, her teachers, her counselor, everyone, and to such an extent that I just couldn't look past it. Most of the time the time, I found myself intensely disliking her because she acted so hatefully.
The pacing also bothered me. The whole time, the book was building up to a big reveal, but when the great moment was finally unleashed, it was at the very end of the book. There wasn't enough time for Parker to fully react in light of this, nor enough for it all to truly sink in with the reader. The details to this part weren't even fully fleshed out, and this really bothered me. I had hoped that such a big part of the book would, well, occupy a relatively big part of the pages.
That's not to say that I didn't like every aspect of the novel, however. As has been proved in her other books, Courtney Summers is a master at spinning emotion through her words, and this one wasn't an exception. It's the mark of a great writer that even as I came close to hate for the protagonist, I still felt more than a modicum of sympathy for her. The emotions intertwined with the story reached through the characters to me.
Overall, CRACKED UP TO BE was ultimately disappointing, partially due to my high expectations. The protagonist bothered me to no end and the pacing was off. However, Summers' trademark emotional twists were seamlessly woven with the story despite these flaws, and I did still enjoy the book. Although this one was not for me, I loved her other two books enough to be eagerly awaiting her next novel.