COLLIDE, by Gail McHugh

 In New Adult


Author: Gail McHugh
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Genre: Conteporary Adult
Format: E-Book
Publisher: Indie (Fist Time Author)
Release Date: January 18, 2013
Recommended Reading: 18+ (Explicit language & Mild Sexual Situations)


THE GIST: This inauthentic, off-balance, mediocre story had me pulling out my hair, biting my nails and screaming bloody murder, for all the wrong reasons, yet surprisingly, at the end, I wanted more. Confused? So am I. I wanted to love it and give it 4 out of 5 stars because the story really could have been a contender, but the writing was too clumsy to bump the rating (did I mention I HATED the female protagonist?). It felt like the author went to press just an edit before completion. A good story is not enough to transform mediocre writing into an excellent read. But don’t shy away just yet, because there is good in this here writer, I can feel it and Collide is only volume 1.

SYNOPSIS: (Collide is book one of a two part series)

A missed first encounter…

Colliding with a second chance…

On the heels of graduating college and trying to cope with her mother’s death, Emily Cooper moves to New York City for a fresh start.

While harboring secrets of his own, Dillon Parker takes care of Emily through her grief. Knowing he can’t live without her by his side, he’s sweet, thoughtful, and everything Emily has ever wanted in a man.

Until she meets Gavin Blake—a rich and notorious playboy who is dangerously sexy and charming as hell. Emily tries to deny the instant connection she feels, but Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome is not inclined to let go so easily. Recovering from his own painful past, Gavin will stop at nothing to win Emily over.

This unexpected encounter compels Emily to question her decisions, forcing her to make a choice that will destroy friendships, shatter hearts, and forever change her life.

THE LOWDOWN: Now before all of the fans of this book (and there are many) get crazy over my distaste for this disjointed tale, let me explain myself.

I hated this story, but I equally liked it. This is why the book didn’t get a one star, nor did it climb to four. I couldn’t put it down and wanted to know what happened up to the very last page and even beyon. I found Gavin, the leading male protagonist, fit my idealistic male mold and I loved every second I spent with him. He was strong, successful (although the billionaire thing is getting a little old) humble and kind, while also being flawed. Besides his being gratuitously über rich, he was drafted with a fairly decent amount of realism.

Good or bad, McHugh is moderately skilled at characterization. I felt strongly about most of her characters and as a result, I wanted to continue reading. The story itself wasn’t groundbreaking, but the characters were valuable enough to love or downright hate, so I forged through. I found myself engrossed in the good and bad deeds of the friends, the villains and the minor players. However, I couldn’t really empathize with many of them because most were drafted with unsympathetic flaws. Let’s take the female protagonist Emily. I hate, hate, H.A.T.E.D. her. She was so badly composed; that about halfway through I was hoping the book would turn into a murder mystery. The kind that involves dismemberment. I like my female leads strong, that way I can root for their plight, not for their painful and bloody demise. Yet, even though the glaringly naïve and dumb decisions she consistently makes throughout the story are the product of a semi-astute characterizer, it is classic bad storytelling. Even evil leads, like Don Corleone, or Hannibal Lecter need to be likable. We need to want them to win.

Where McHugh’s characterization thrives, her narration suffers. The point of view is skewed and the 3rd person vantage point becomes the books disadvantage because it is flops in and out of first person POV’s. Abrupt switches between characters and storylines give the book a manic feel. I lost my connection with the direction and I didn’t like it. I wanted to feel a part of at least one of the characters or none. Similar to poorly directed handheld camera scenes that pull in for close-ups then pull back quickly for establishing shots, this book made my head spin and my stomach weak. Combined with grossly overused clichés, similes and metaphors, it made me feel like I was reading the work of a first time writer who didn’t confer with a professional proofer, an experienced beta reader, or Strunk & White for that matter. And – now I’m nitpicking – but as a former New Yorker, this author wrote one of the greatest cities in the world like a tourist reciting her one day trip from memory. Perhaps she is a native city girl, I don’t know, but she didn’t write like one and I found this inauthentic and distracting; however, minor.

The worst part about this story (besides the metaphors, clichés and Emily) – and I swear this is the end of my rant – were the long drawn out explanations and descriptions. I must have skipped over a hundred pages, each accompanied by an eye roll and a huff. In fact every sentence was drafted with a gushy metaphor that took a simple and clear thought into another dastardly realm. It was literary murder, usually reserved for flowery and poorly written prose, not a contemporary adult fiction where two twenty-somethings get hot & heavy at a kegger. Using three pages to describe what should be done in one, is nauseating. .

Look, I’m not saying don’t read it, but if you do be warned. Understand what you are getting into and buy the book fully equipped to throw your Kindle, book or Nook clear across the room. Prepare to scream when the woman you are supposed to be rooting for decides that she loves a man who is abusive, ignoring the perfect man who is throwing himself at her feet; or during the endless pages of nothing; or the clichés that riddle and bog down the story. Understand that you might have to skip entire passages, pages even, to get through all the overused adjectives and similes. Then, maybe you will be able to enjoy it for what it actually is; a simple love story.

Sara O'Connor
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