Happy Sunday, bibliophiles! I hope this week has treated you all well.
Our Bloody Pearl, though I liked it, gave me false hope that my reading slump would end last week…it ended up stretching through to the end of this week, but the last book I read was fantastic, so I’m considering the slump broken. I got my preorder of Steelstriker in the mail, as well as some fantastic-looking library books, so I think I’ll have a good streak this week!
It’s definitely been a bit of a busy week this week–finishing up school stuff, visiting a college a few hours away, and going to homecoming. I’m also dyeing my hair soon, but since my hair’s so long now, we split the appointment in two, so I’m currently blonde. It’s a lot of fun though.
Other than that, I’ve just been making my way through What If? and What We Do in the Shadows, procrastinating on writing, and rearranging my bookshelf based on the addition of one (1) book. It’s a delicate balance.
And it’s finally SPOOKY SEASON! I just helped my parents put up all the Halloween decorations…
September started out a little stressful, but now I feel like I’m in a better place than I’ve been for most of this year. I can neither confirm nor deny that this is because it’s finally fall and it’s cold enough for me to wear my favorite jackets.
Let’s begin, shall we?
September has been my first full month back in school; it started out more than a little stressful, thanks to getting my college applications all sorted out, but now that I’m (somewhat) over that hump, I’m feeling a lot better. I’ve managed to keep my grades in a good place, so I’m happy about that!
I also managed to finish draft 2 of my sci-fi WIP!! I’m super proud of myself for that one–I cut down a whole lot of filler, and I feel a lot better about it as a whole. I’m going to let it sit for a few months before I go back and edit it, but I feel great about it. In the meantime, I’ve been poring through a draft I abandoned in 2019 that was…surprisingly good, given that it was written almost two and a half years ago. I’ve been outlining on and off, but I’m going to try and actually get this writing business back in motion soon.
As for the rest of the month, it’s been peaceful. We got the book club back up and running at my high school, I spent the weekend in Vail, and I went to two fantastic concerts–Spoon and St. Vincent! They were both great, but the latter will always have a special place in my heart. St. Vincent was a major hero of mine in middle school, and she’s still a hero now, and seeing her live made all my dreams come true.
And now it’s almost October! I’m so excited–Halloween season, loads of good movies coming out (The French Dispatch, Dune, etc.), fall in general…good times.
READING AND BLOGGING:
I read 21 books this month! More than I expected, given that I haven’t had as much time to read this month, but I did read a lot of shortish books, so…
This book has been on my radar for at least a year and a half. I was drawn to it because of the premise of a character who is an aspiring sci-fi writer (like me!) going through high school. I bought it on my Kindle recently, and though my expectations were high, I found Final Draft to be enjoyable, but a little lacking–both in development and length.
Laila Piedra dreams of becoming a sci-fi author, and she spends every moment she can crafting new worlds on her laptop. Her biggest supporter is her creative writing teacher, Mr. Madison, who is always there to lend a word of advice or support. But when Mr. Madison gets in a car accident and can no longer teacher, he’s replaced by Nadiya Nazarenko, a renowned author who doles out scathing critiques faster than the speed of light. Pressured to impress her new teacher, Laila stretches herself into places that she never would have dreamed of. But what will it cost her dream of writing–and her mental health?
TW/CW: underage drinking, fatphobia,depression, death, descriptions of injury
Final Draft had the makings of a great story, but it only felt like half a book. It left me wanting more in the end–everything felt so crammed and rushed, and as a result, all that could have been good ended up suffering. However, that wasn’t to say that it wasn’t at least enjoyable–it was a decent story, but it felt unnecessarily truncated.
I’ll start out with what I liked–the representation! Final Draft was a very diverse book–Laila is mixed-raced and half-Latina, and her rep made me feel so seen! She’s also plus-size and pansexual, and that combination of representation is always fantastic to see. Additionally, her love interest is Korean-American and a lesbian, and there are several Latinx side characters. So I owe a big thank you to Riley Redgate for all of that great rep!
Now, Final Draft started out with a lot of promise. The setup in the first third or so had the makings of a great story–a clear setup and a difficult conflict for Laila to overcome. But at about the 40% mark, everything felt crammed into a scant amount of pages. Everything happened at almost breakneck speed, shoving key conflicts into far fewer pages than was necessary to develop the events of the novel. (For reference, the Kindle edition of Final Draft was only 272 pages, so there could have been so much more content to bulk everything up and make it coherent!) It all felt so rushed, and as a result, the message came across muddy and underdeveloped. There are so many themes that are so important to discuss–the cautionary tale of the “suffering artist,” mental health and depression, and grief, to name a few–but they were all glossed over in such a short amount of time that they were all unfinished and badly handled.
That being said, although the story was unnecessarily rushed, at least the topics discussed were there. For creative people, mental health is so often neglected in the face of criticism and perfectionism, and having a story like Laila’s is an important one not just for writers, but any young person with creative passions. Laila’s story needs to be told–I just wish it was fully fleshed out.
All in all, a book that had the potential to be potent and powerful, but suffered from excessive rushing. 3 stars.
Final Draft is a standalone, but Riley Redgate is also the author of Noteworthy, Seven Ways We Lie, and the forthcoming Alone Out Here, which is slated for release in April 2022.
That’s it for this week’s Book Review Tuesday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!
Goodreads Monday is a weekly meme created by Lauren’s Page Turners. All you have to do to participate is pick a book from your Goodreads TBR, and explain why you want to read it.
While scouring the middle reaches of my TBR, this book stood out to me, especially from the synopsis; aside from the shenanigans that ensue from the switching of a creative writing teacher ([mournful sigh], oh, how I wish my school had more English options…[single tear slides down cheek]), the main character seems…a bit like me. Or, how I want to be, at least.
GOODREADS MONDAY (2/10/20)-FINAL DRAFT by Riley Redgate
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.
So why do I want to read this?
As a young, aspiring writer myself, I’m intrigued to see how–or if–I relate to Laila. Beyond that, I’m interested to see how the near-fall-from-grace plotline is handled, tightroping the line between approval from others and mental stability.
Oh, hey, and I just noticed…
…IT’S SHELVED AS LGBTQ+ ON GOODREADS!
hadakjsdkajshkdjashdkjaskjhj such a good cover eeee
That just about wraps up this week’s Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!