by Bennett Madison
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Published: May 21st 2013 by HarperTeen
Format Acquired: ARC from publisher via Edelweiss (thank you!)
Purchase: Barnes & Nobles | The Book Depository | Amazon
When Sam's dad whisks him and his brother off to a remote beach town for the summer, he's all for it-- at first. Sam soon realizes, though, that this place is anything but ordinary. Time seems to slow down around here, and everywhere he looks, there are beautiful blond girls. Girls who seem inexplicably drawn to him.Then Sam meets DeeDee, one of the Girls, and she's different from the others. Just as he starts to fall for her, she pulls away, leaving him more confused than ever. He knows that if he's going to get her back, he'll have to uncover the secret of this beach and the girls who live here.
Don’t let the pretty cover fool you – this book is far from fluffy and sweet. September Girls has a lot of cussing and sex… or talk of sex. I can’t say there was a lot of sex because Sam, the main character, barely got some and he complained about it a lot. I’ve never read so many F bombs or such vivid descriptions of people making out in a YA book. I understand how a lot of readers can get turned off or even disgusted by this. It’s a young adult book, after all. But one has to consider that Sam is 17 years old. In reality most 17 year old guys aren’t like the swoon-worthy love interests we read about in books. I’m not saying that guys around that age are pigs but let’s face it – it’s that stage in a boy’s life where his hormones are raging. Sam’s POV is as honest as it gets, in my opinion. But the problem is, it’s like the audience wasn’t even considered when this book was being written (and edited). Who reads YA books with pretty covers? Girls. Young girls.
If the crudity was meant to convey something other than to show what boys are really like, it didn’t appear that way. For the most part, Sam kept talking about his urges and how the girls are extremely hot and whatnot. I didn’t get much out of it. There had to be a point to it all. I mean, sure, he's still a virgin at 17 and well what do you know? He has the magic stick! But did everything have to be said so crudely? I didn't get it. I didn’t help me understand the plot better and it surely didn’t help me appreciate Sam.
Who is Sam, anyway? Take away all the talk of sex and what do I know about him? Very little. I barely even got to the point where I somewhat understood his character. His character lacked development, I think, even till the very end. He says he feels differently and that his time at the beach changed him but how?In what way did he change? In what way did he feel differently? It was all vague and underdeveloped.
You know what else was vague and underdeveloped? The Girls. The chapters written in their perspective, while I appreciate some of it, just felt repetitive and useless. They answered the basic questions but by the end of it all, I still felt like they lacked depth and development. Especially DeeDee. I had a hard time trying to understand why exactly DeeDee was "different" than the other Girls. Was it because she enjoyed reading? Was it because she was more cynical than most? Was it because she was less horny than Kristle? Because I reckon if Sam met the other Girls (he only interacted with three, I think), he wouldn't find DeeDee so special. Or who knows, maybe it was her mermaid voodoo that did the trick. Woops! There, I said it. Now you know what they are.
The readers are left with a rather vague (vague seems to be a trend here) ending. Summer is over and so is Sam and DeeDee's story. There were a lot of loose ends and it wasn't just with them but with everyone else! I honestly don't know what's wrong with me but oddly enough I kind of like how unfinished the story was. It felt sad yet magical in a way - to leave a place and time where everything was different and to fight to remember it all after. I just wish it was written better. Heck, the whole book could've been written better. It actually took me 6 days to finish it. If a book truly was engaging, I would be able to finish it fast! September Girls had a lot of potential but there were a lot of things that needed to be developed. Simply put: great concept, bad execution. And I just can't bring myself to like a book on a great idea alone.
(Refer to rating system)
About the author
Bennett Madison is the author of several books for teenagers, including The Blonde of the Joke (HarperTeen 2009) and September Girls (HarperTeen 2013). He has also written a few other books and some other things here and there.
He grew up in Takoma Park, Maryland, went to Sarah Lawrence College, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Bennett’s former occupations include: phone psychic, clothes-folder, no-nonsense receptionist, and writer of not-very-good cartoons.