Published: December 8, 2015 by Delacorte
Source: I received an eARC for review from the publisher via Netgalley. This does not affect my review in any way, don't worry.
Summary from Goodreads:
It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey...
With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.
Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.
But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.
I am a huge fan of Lauren Morrill's previous novels, Meant to Be and Being Sloane Jacobs, so I was really super excited when I got approved for her newest book, especially since it deals with the high school music department and I am a huge choir nerd. That being said, it breaks my heart to say anything negative about this book, but the truth is I have extremely mixed feelings about The Trouble with Destiny.
Let's start with the things I enjoyed:
The premise - I've said it before, I'll say it again. I am an enormous choir nerd. It was my life throughout high school, and I'm still in choir in college (only now I get a scholarship to sing in it). While this book deals with band rather choir, it still makes my musical heart happy. There are not nearly enough YA books about band and choir kids. I'll admit, Morrill did a fairly good job handling this aspect. She definitely got the clique-yness right and showed how important these music programs can become to students. Reading about this realllly made me miss my high school choir fam. I wish we saw a bit more tension when it came to the competition. Yeah, we see Liza freaking out, but I know that music kids get really competitive no matter what's on the line, and I would have liked a bit more of that.
The setting - I don't think I've ever read anything set on a cruise before, and it was a lot of fun. It was almost like I was reading an episode of Suite Life on Deck. I love how our characters are put in a place where there are so many luxuries, but they're all basically stuck together unless they plan on jumping overboard.
The writing - When I open a Lauren Morrill book, I am expecting light, fluffy writing and a narrator that can bring the humor. I wasn't disappointed. Though I am not a huge fan of Liza's character (which I'll talk more about), I did like her voice a lot.
And that's all I've got for the positives, honestly. Now let's talk cons:
Liza - So, Liza, our narrator, is the drum major of her high school band, which means she is like the leader. However, she takes it upon herself to be the band's freaking dictator. And she treats the people who are supposed to be her friends so poorly. I get that she is stressing and acting a little crazy because she is the only one who knows that the band might be losing it's funding, but we only really get to see that version of her. We don't know how she treats her band before all that craziness, so how are we supposed to know what she's really like? Also, it really bothers me that she thought she was the only one in the band who should know that there might not be a band much longer. I get that she was trying not to worry them, but she would have saved herself so much trouble had she just told them. Like, sweetie....you're not the only one capable of handling that information. ALSO, when situations get bad, she tends to run away from them. She didn't know how to calmly handle stressful things. Some leader. I'll admit, she grew a ton over the course of the novel, but that doesn't make up for how much I didn't enjoy her character as I was reading the first 80% of the novel.
The romance - This right here is the most devastating thing to admit. I did not like the way the romance was handled in this book, for the most part. I thought, if nothing else, this would be what I loved about this novel, because Morrill wrote romance so well in both her previous novels. But alas. So, Debby at Snuggly Oranges wrote in her review of this novel that the romance was very A Midsummer Night's Dream, and I cannot think of a better way to describe it. I made a diagram for y'all.
As you can see, it's all very complicated...and that's not what bothered me. I think things like that are fun. What bothers me is how underdeveloped all of it was. I felt a big fat nothing about the romance and that doesn't happen to me, like, ever. Russ is great! He's goofy and sweet and seems to genuinely care about Liza, but we don't actually know anything about him besides the fact that he plays football. I totally wanted him to get what he wanted because I liked him, but I still felt no connection whatsoever to his and Liza's relationship. They don't even really have chemistry. Liza spends the whole book pining over Lenny and being a total bitch to Russ. I'm not even sure why he liked her. There was a lot of eye-rolling, that's for sure.
Lenny's Ending - I can't say what it was, but it didn't really make sense to me.
Missing authority figure - This is one of those tropes in YA that can work sometimes, but when it doesn't, it really doesn't. I'm sorry, but the drum major does not have THAT MUCH responsibility, but it was like she called most of the shots when it came to the band, while the actual director was doing who-knows-what. His absence is, realistically, unacceptable. Liza and her best friend Huck came up with a plan to keep him distracted for the trip, but that was an obvious move on Morrill's part to just get him out of the way. He finally became an authority figure at the most inconvenient time for Liza. It was my biggest pet peeve in this novel.
Obviously, this novel really let me down. And that really sucks. But, while it was super predictable, I still felt the need to read it to its completion. If you're a Morrill fan, I'll tell you right here right now, you're most likely going to be disappointed by this book. If you've never read anything by her, I don't recommend starting with this one.
Check out her other books!
Meant to Be (November, 2012)
Being Sloane Jacobs (January, 2014)