Hey all, Dani here.
Okay, so first off, Happy Pride Month! Also, Happy GLBT Book Month. I try to read diversely through the year, but there are some months where I try to highlight those reads a bit more than other months. This is one of those months.
Also, it has been a little while since I last posted an ARC review on here. So, I should of course give a big thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for allowing me early access to this book. As always, I need to state that receiving a digital galley did not influence my rating or review at all.
Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, let’s jump into the review, shall we?
The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.
At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.
Rating: 4 stars
As a reader and a writer, the concept of this book definitely intrigued me. Plus, I read Noteworthy by Redgate last year and enjoyed it, so I was excited to read another of her novels.
I related to Laila pretty easily in the beginning. She had a group of friends, the typical relationship with her parents and her sister, and she had a teacher/mentor who greatly supported her and her writing endeavors.
Then comes the incident that leads to her teacher no longer being able to teach, and he is replaced by an award winning novelist who–honestly–doesn’t have any clue how to really teach. This is where I started to dislike the book, but not through any fault of the author. I didn’t like the spiral that Laila falls into as she tries to impress her new mentor. She pushes away her friends and gets so wrapped up in trying to perfect her writing that she starts to lose herself.
Now, for where this books fits in to GLBT Book Month. It is not really a main focus or in the spotlight, but Laila does for a time pursue a relationship with one of her best friends, who just happens to be a female. And actually, I liked that it was just something that happened more in the background to the writing obsession. It normalizes the relationship, which is excellent, because there is nothing odd about any romantic relationship options.
So, pretty much, my lowering of the rating for this book is because Laila’s unhealthy spiral into overly obsessed writing and editing. I thought it was well written and executed, but it also made it a little more difficult for me to enjoy reading the book. I had to set this one aside a few times before I was finally able to finish it.