Monday, July 24, 2017

Adult Review: The Principles Behind Flotation

The Principles Behind Flotation by Alexandra Teague

Published: March 17th, 2017 by Skyhorse Publishing
Genre: Modern Historical Adult*
Binding: Hardcover
Page Count: 319 plus acknowledgements
Part of a series? Nope
Got via: It was sent to me for review consideration.
Amazon / Book Depository / Indiebound

Summary (from goodreads): When the Sea of Santiago appeared overnight in a cow pasture in Arkansas, it seemed, to some, a religious miracle. But to high school sophomore A.Z. McKinney, it’s marked her chance to make history—as its first oceanographer. All she needs is to get out on the water.

Her plan is easier said than done, considering the Sea’s eccentric owner is only interested in its use as a tourist destination for beachgoers and devout pilgrims. Still, A.Z. is determined to uncover the secrets of the Sea—even if it means smuggling saline samples in her bathing suit.

Yet when a cute, conceptual artist named Kristoff moves to town, A.Z. realizes she may have found a first mate. Together, they make a plan to build a boat and study the Sea in secret. But from fighting with her best friend to searching for a tourist-terrorizing alligator (that may or may not be a crocodile), distractions are everywhere. Soon, A.Z.’s dreams are in danger of being dashed upon the shore of Mud Beach.

With her self-determined oceanic destiny on the line, A.Z. finds herself at odds with everything she thought she knew about life, love, and the Sea. To get what she wants, she’ll have to decide whether to sink or float . . . But which one comes first?

Review: I think this is the most disatisfying book I've ever read. Nothing happens in this book. NOTHING. I can't even. There is like no plot to this book and, okay, I can get behind slice of life books, but there's not even like character development plot. Things happen, kinda, but there's no conflict or anything exciting. It's just dull and slow and I disliked so many of the people.

Maybe this kind of "coming of age" book just isn't for me, but I had so much trouble reading this because I was so bored.

Plot Talk: I think we covered that I thought there was no plot, yeah?

Characters: Here's a thing - I thought there were actually some interesting characters. But we spent no time with them. Instead we spent time with the girl who basically just gave up on her dreams because of a boy (and the emotional impact of that is so shallow a feather in sand would leave a deeper imprint) and an incredibly pretenscious, annoying boy who's every "tortured artist" you've ever seen.

PG-13 stuff: The fourteen year old has a lot of sex and nobody seems to think it's important to talk to her about that besides her mother saying make sure she has orgasms and a doctor giving her birth control pills and condoms and lube. This isn't a YA book, it's an adult book with a young protagonist, which is not the same thing, and I think that makes it less emotionally true to what being a teenager is like honestly. It's like the sex is more about shock value than what it really means to A.Z.

There's also a buttload of underage drinking, a bunch of language, and some really gory images about animal death. Felt again more like shock value than anything.

Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: We've covered most of them. No plot, annoying characters. It's very slow to start and the voice is super removed. It's told in third person present tense, and it's very... tell-y. There are so many "A.Z. feels" but you don't really feel what A.Z. is feeling because the narration told you, but it didn't show it. The time period is also really hard to nail down - it's set in the 80s... because... reasons, but it's hard to tell unless you really know pop culture and when Madonna wore a cone bra. I also found a lot of the backstory with the Sea confusing, and kind of glossed over.

There's ableist slurs for no reason that nobody objects to, there's no queer people, no disabled people, ONE POC who... exists, but I wouldn't be quick to call good representation, and so much fatphobia. Every fat character is a stereotype and a jerk, and there are so many fatphobic comments.

Cover comments: Yeah, I don't get it honestly. It's okay. I like blue. I think the alligator is the only thing that actually matters to the book. It doesn't speak to me though, as a cover.

Conclusion: I really did not like this. Honestly I'm kind of rushing this review because I really want to read something I'll actually enjoy, and I'm tired of spending time with this book. Maybe if you like this kind of meandering slice of life/coming of age book, but when I wasn't bored, I was offended or kind of grossed out, so it really just didn't work for me. One and a half roses.

Other notes:

- Did 14 year olds, even in the 80s, know who Kenny G was????

- *I'm making this a thing. Books set in the 80s and 90s are going to be called this now. It's a bit of an oxymoron, I realize, but I've decided.

Peace and cookies,

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