Dear Aaron, I’m Conflicted

Dear wild ones,

This book review is giving me some serious trouble. I finished Dear Aaron by Mariana Zapata early this morning and immediately sent a pissed off text to my sister. Dani finished the book a few days prior and had some not nice things to say about the ending, so I had to let her know I felt the same way. Seeing as it would be silly to start a review at the end of the book, I’ll hold back my comments for a bit.

I’m not kidding when I say that I’m seriously conflicted about this book. Usually when a book makes me grin and laugh like a loon it means it’s on it’s way to the top of my favorites list, this book however is hovering somewhere in the middle.

It’s just…ugh…I can’t even decide what kind of rating I want to give this one. It’s a Zapata book, so I want so badly to just run down the street screaming that this was a 5 star read, but that doesn’t feel honest. However, when I think about downgrading it to anything less than the 5 stars my heart tells me to throw at it I start to get a little pissy with myself. So…here’s hoping that this review doesn’t sound like it was written by a complete airhead who has no idea what she’s doing, even if that might very well be the case.

Let’s start with what I liked about the book.

  • It made me laugh, I swear if I had been reading this in public I would have gotten some curious stares. Between the loud bursts of laughter and the goofy smiles I probably would have been committed, but lucky for me I was alone at work.
  • It’s unlike anything I’ve read yet. Prior to this one I have only read two other books where the main characters meet via the interweb, and I loved both of those, but this one was completely different than the others. The bulk of this book is strictly emails exchanged between our MCs, Ruby Santos and Aaron Hall, via the HaS program, a sort of pen pal thing that pairs people with soldiers over seas.
  • The understanding and vocalization of the awesomeness of mini pigs. That one little thing made me so ridiculously happy it wasn’t even funny. I love mini pigs!! As soon as I’m adult enough to have my own home I am going to have a cute little piggy companion for Watson.
  • This one was a fairly easy read. Mariana is the queen of slooooooooooow burn. That being said, sometimes her books can take me a bit to really get into a flow of reading, even my favorites took me some time to focus to get through them. That was not the case with this book. I guess it’s because of the email format, the pages didn’t seem as long maybe…I don’t know for sure, but I didn’t have any difficulty getting through this book, though it was frustrating as hell.

 

Moving on to the things that were not my favorite.

  • The emails. Ugh, as much as they made me laugh and smile, I found myself getting really frustrated with this book (even though it was an easy read). We don’t get to “meet” our leading lady, Ruby Santos, until the 45% mark! Up until then it’s strictly emails and messages passed back and forth between the pair.  For me it made it really hard to connect with both of them. I liked both of them, but I wasn’t necessarily cheering for them. Reading this book was kind of like watching real life, you get the conversations but none of the underlying emotion or thoughts of either character. And once the brief scene between Ruby’s siblings is over, it’s seriously just a few pages, it goes straight back to messages for another 10%. So about 50 – 55% of this book is just flat conversation. I guess we’re supposed to read between the lines, but it wasn’t fun for me. My favorite thing about reading is the all of the stuff that goes on in characters heads throughout their journeys and I guess I felt a little cheated for a bit there.
  • I’m not the biggest fan of either of the main characters. Again, this probably stems from the fact that for half of the book there wasn’t really anything to connect to them about on an emotional level.
    • Ruby came across as a little weakling whiny baby for me, which makes me feel ridiculous for saying because I can be a serious whiny baby, but I swear she cries like a hundred dang times. I will freely admit that there’s a lot that makes me cry, sad commercials, happy stuff, when I get really angry I tend to cry, but even I thought the amount of time this chick spent tearing up was kind of silly. I tried to be gracious and keep her age in mind, she’s 24, but she felt immature. She still lives at home, still has the same two jobs she’s had since she was 16 and was hired by family, and despite the fact that Aaron constantly tells her she’s brave I didn’t buy it. Sorry…
    • Aaron was kind of a mystery. Good ole boy from Lousiana who’s family is loaded, we seriously don’t find that out until like the end of the book, and who went into the service because he wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life. At 28 he’s still not sure what he wants out of life, which is understandable, I’m in the same boat, so I get it, but after spending nearly 10 years in the army you would figure he would know himself a bit better. He’s a bit moody/broody, which I usually love, but he came across as petulant at some points. There were a few instances where he got all silent on Ruby, typical male bullshit I guess, but it bugged me.
  • Now, let’s talk about that ending. I wanted to throw my tablet. Though I should have not been surprised, Dani warned me that she hated the ending, but I didn’t think it would be as bad as it was. I don’t think I’ve ever been left feeling as lost as the epilogue in this book left me. Per her usually MO, Mariana gives us a sweet/steamy sex scene and then promptly ends the book, this one however went a step further on the fucked up scale. *SPOILER AHEAD* After their little love fest we get a goodbye scene that seriously makes you think it might be the end. Ruby is sobbing, Aaron is trying to convince her that it’s not really goodbye, but if you honestly look at it logically it felt like they could be done. He’s stationed in Kentucky, she lives in Houston (shout out to Mariana for yet another book based in my home state!) and he’s not done with his enlistment. Aaron hugs Ruby before her flight home and then we get the most unfulfilling epilogue in the world. Our epilogue was text messages. FUCKING TEXT MESSAGES! UGH!!! I’m still super pissed about the let down at the end of this book. The only thing you can glean from the texts is that 4 years have passed and the duo is still together, they obviously live together (I think in Houston), he’s still in the service, she’s making dog bandannas and they’re thinking about starting a family. That’s it. I’m assuming the point of doing the epilogue in text format was so it felt like a true part of their love story, you know two people who fell in love online, and we get a few pieces of pertinent information let’s us know that they’re together and living their happily ever after, but none of that made me feel any better. It was a let down of epic proportions.

Okay, now that I’ve done some ranting and raving it’s time to get down to the rating. Oh god, I’m sweating here. Looking at the above points it would seem like I had way more bad to say about the book than the good, however, you can’t factor in the happy little sighs that sometimes escaped me, or the frowns…soooooo. Shit. I thought it would be easier once I wrote everything out, but it’s really not.

I want to give it 5 stars, I really do. Mariana has become of my favorite authors and I’ve read some of her books so many times I could recite them. This book however, I don’t think I want to read again. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well written as a whole, but I don’t feel the itch I usually do when I’ve read a book that I love. Most of the time once I’ve finished something I really love I can start all over again almost immediately and love every second again, that’s not the case here. When I thought about reading it again before I wrote this review my heart said, “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!” and my brain agreed, so I guess that means I can’t go with 5 stars.

So with a heavy heart and hand, I’m gonna give this one 3.5 stars. I think I can feel good about 3.5 stars. Okay, so 3.5 stars it is.

Sheesh, that was a toughie. Okay, I’m gonna go start looking for my next literary fix. If you have any suggestions or requests please feel free to leave them in the comment section.

I’ll be posting next week’s selection on Monday, though I was thinking last night it might be better to tell you guys on Wednesdays what book I’m gonna read next, just so maybe you can read it too before I do the review. Hmmm…I’ll have to ponder that this weekend while I’m hanging with elephants, LB, M, and TJ.

NIGHT!

Until later, stay wonderfully wild!

Chels

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