Title: Prom Impossible
Author: Laura Pauling
Publisher: ‘Redpoint Press’ (unconfirmed)
Release Date: 1st May 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Page Count: Unknown
Source: Expresso Book Tours
After Cassidy is sent to a Summer Program for troubled teens in response to sabotaging the previous year’s prom, she decides she wants the perfect date with the perfect boy to her perfect prom, and in her desperation to get Michael to notice her ends up in lots of compromising positions, including making deals with the resident school stud. Meanwhile, the new bad boy at school has moved into her friendship group, and maybe also her heart, so what does she do? Lies and steals and generally ruins everything. Atta girl.
Hoo boy. I thought The Dark World by Cara Lyn Schultz lacked subtlety. In fact, I seem to remember saying “The storytelling lacked a certain finesse and charged through the book with all the subtlety of a freight train.” If The Dark World is a freight train, Prom Impossible is some kind of locomotive-tank-bear-with-lasers-rocket-jet thing. This is the most unsubtle book ever and also the most random.
The lead, Cassidy, is a horrible, horrible character and thoroughly unlikeable. I’m not sure if she suffers from Asperger’s (although she is VERY good at reading body language, so I suspect her social awkwardness is just her being awkward), anxiety, or is just a plain blabbermouth who can’t think straight. She blathers on and on in supposed ‘panic attacks’ (which they most certainly are not)
“Enough with the fake panic attacks. Get over it.”
yet won’t spill secrets that will get her out of very bad situations, or even tell the truth. She doesn’t learn from her mistakes. She never thinks about consequences and when her parents try to lay ground rules, such as a no sugar diet (which she constantly breaks and remains a svelte size 6) she heartily breaks more rules, then begs for forgiveness or gets away with it entirely.
She consistently breaks the law. She steals things from people even after getting in trouble. She breaks into her cousin’s house to steal a dress to wear to not one dance, but TWO dances, hoping her cousin won’t notice (which she doesn’t, or pretends not to). She steals her mother’s coat to wear to a party and ends up leaving it behind to walk home in the freezing snow. She steals not one but TWO cars, and doesn’t even face any consequences because her brother Carter makes everything all right for her.
She is also a complete and utter dumbass. She offers to buy her friends refreshments but then realises she has no money, so instead of telling them the truth she pretends she’s ordered it but it’s just taking a long time. She demonstrates over and over again that she is an empty-headed, thoughtless little girl:
If possible, Jules’ hair had turned three shades lighter.
No, it’s not possible at all. It is utterly impossible for hair to change colour. You’re just insane.
Mom always carried a ton of bandages, and it wasn’t too hard to wrap them around my sneaker so it looked like I’d hurt myself.
AROUND HER SNEAKER.
The worst part is that she’s utterly, utterly obsessed with her prom, yet she absolutely ruined the previous year’s prom as a prank. How would she feel if someone ruined her prom? Never considers it. She’s been obsessing with prom the whole book, yet we are treated to this line nearly halfway through:
Lately I’d been having doubts and realized that along with prom came a whole lot of other issues, like dates and dresses.
Which just lead me to facepalm because what else is there, and what has she been obsessing about if not those two issues? Also, we never, ever learn what Cassidy’s doubts about her prom are. We’re just told she has them.
The book is littered with inconsistencies. Cassidy cries poor because she’s not rich like her cousin, even though her parents have ‘normal’ jobs and live in a ‘normal’ house:
“I let you think I had a lot of money and that this is my house, but it isn’t. It’s Jules’s. I live in a normal house with parents who make normal incomes.”
She spends six weeks with Zeke in a summer program yet he’s still asking her ‘getting to know you’ questions well into the school year. Speaking of Zeke, he tells her
“I’ve tried real hard to fight against that bad boy image.”
And the way he fights against it? By having a lip ring, wearing black, sporting a bad attitude and getting in trouble bad enough so that he gets sent to the Summer Program. Honestly, aside from the Summer Program thing, Zeke’s a perfectly nice boy and not bad at all.
Cassidy makes a deal with Jasper and ends up writing his papers, yet she utterly sabotages it, but he thanks her anyway:
“Especially since you write such fantastic papers.”
Then he gets his failing grade, and just what? What? Seriously. He even makes her continue on with writing papers that he DOESN’T double-check, which gives her a SECOND chance to totally embarrass him. And what does he do? JASPER threatens CASSIDY.
“The school won’t find out you’ve been cheating.”
“The charade will continue a while longer, or your academic career will be…” he ran his finger across his neck.”
I don’t even understand how this works. Jasper’s the one cheating. How can he possibly think Cassidy will be punished? How can Cassidy possibly think that?
Cassidy’s utterly convinced that a boy who won’t give her the time of day is her ‘soul mate’, yet we never even get a hint as to why she feels this way.
Michael immediately dropped out of our flirty conversation.
Yeah because nothing screams ‘flirt’ like (dialogue only):
“What are you doing here?”
“What’s that supposed to mean? I’m just as surprised to see you here.”
“I mean, I don’t usually see you at this scene.”
“Maybe you’ve just missed me.”
Also the thing between Michael and Elena? Michael has been crushing on Elena the whole year, and Elena responds positively towards him at around 50%
Together, fast friends, they left the hall and re-entered the party.
Yet apparently at the climax where Cassidy’s being ‘selfless’ and pushes the two together, Elena has no idea Michael likes her, and Michael asked Cassidy to prom because he thought Elena would say no, even though they are ‘fast friends’, which doesn’t even make any sense since they are friends already!
Maybe she was caught up in the whole prom thing, but I think she finally liked him and just couldn’t fully go for it because he was a cute geek.
‘Finally’? She went off with him halfway through the book!
Cassidy is upset throughout the whole book because she’s decided Michael’s her soul mate and he hasn’t asked her to prom.
I could tell her about my deal with Jasper, or about how Michael had rejected me all year, or how Zeke caused all these weird twisty feeling (sic) inside me even though he wasn’t really talking to me or how I had a yellow poofy dress with (sic) humongous flower on the shoulder that I had to wear because of all the time her mom had spent with me, and how it didn’t matter because I wasn’t even going to prom. (my emphasis)
Michael’s ‘rejection’ of Cassidy is literally nothing more than not falling at her feet and offering himself to her, or taking an interest at all. It’s unfortunate that Cassidy feels she’s entitled to Michael and that him not showing an interest back is ‘rejection’, because later on she also feels the exact same way about Zeke:
He was responding and talking and laughing and whispering with a girl… that wasn’t me.
You’d think the above quote was about Michael. It’s not. It’s about Zeke. Cassidy feels the exact same way about both of them at one point or another. You’d think she’d be used to all this ‘rejection’, which in actual fact is simply a boy taking an interest in another girl.
The book is also totally and completely random. The three weeks with Aunt Lulu are compressed into a couple of throwaway paragraphs and we don’t even know what Cassidy learned, or how it affected her, or how it changed her as a character, because she’s still desperate and dateless and breaking the law. Yet later on we’re told,
“You seem to have developed this special bond with Aunt Lulu this year.”
This isn’t the only thing we are told. The entire narrative is told, not shown. We never really get to see inside Cassidy’s head, despite it being first person point of view.
Many different thoughts and ideas swirled through my brain, and I wasn’t liking all of them.
This is telling, not showing. I want to know what thoughts and ideas swirled through her brain, and why she didn’t like them.
I needed a solo night, just me, myself, and I, because there were so many conflicting thoughts swirling inside my head, I didn’t know what to do with them.
What is she thinking? Why is it conflicting? We’ll never know.
“Ever since Aunt Lulu stopped by last week and took you for breakfast, you haven’t been the same.”
This would be nice to know if ‘last week’ didn’t just happen on the previous page, and all we’ve seen since then is Cassidy taking her dog outside for a leak, and not SEEN any of Cassidy ‘not being the same’. We’re just TOLD. She could have been off her food, or moody and snappy, or anything. But we just don’t know. She’s just ‘not the same’.
This overabundance of telling, not showing, is one of this book’s weakest points. Because of that, Cassidy’s thought process is ridiculously difficult to follow. My favourite quote?
Carter pulled me into his arms and gave me another brother/sister hug. “Wow. So I guess you like Zeke.”
“Yes.” I laughed/sobbed.
Not even joking.
I think the book had a lot of potential it didn’t live up to, particularly where BFF/cousin Jules and twin brother Carter were involved. I would have dearly liked to have seen their characters better developed and with bigger roles. The romance with Zeke was incredibly sweet once I looked past all the inconsistencies and randomness and took it as ‘girl from wrong side of the tracks meets bad boy with a heart of gold’ slow developing romance.
The reason I didn’t DNF? I wanted to watch Cassidy’s world crumble around her and see how she responded. Ultimately I was disappointed. Would I recommend this? I would, if you like cringe-worthy, unlikeable heroines who show absolutely zero growth and don’t really face consequences for their idiot decisions and illegal actions, and you’re not picky about writing style. Also, the cover is to die for.
Thanks to Expresso Book Tours and the author for providing a free review copy for an honest review.