Monday 31 December 2012

Review: The Romance Diaries: Ruby By Jenna Austen

This book reads like a teenage girl's diary. Which is probably exactly what the author was going for but which made it totally unenjoyable for me. Because it's not the diary of a particularly interesting teenage girl. Ruby is not well-developed – in fact, all of the characters felt quite flat to me – and all she apparently cares about is romance. Not her own, mind you, but others'. Yep, she considers herself a matchmaker, and her diary is all about the love lives of her friends and family – and her own in time, natch. It's unsurprising considering the inspiration for this novel was apparently Jane Austen's Emma, but the thing about Emma is there's so much more than matchmaking in there. It explores identity, class and gender alongside the main romance. Ruby, however, is all about the romance – which itself is completely cheesy, predictable and rather unbelievable.

I might have still enjoyed the book as a fun bit of fluff if not for the language. Run-on sentences, way too many adverbs, and a ridiculous amount of slang all combined to make it seem like a 12-year-old had written it. Or an adult trying too hard to sound like a teenager. I'm not against slang; far from it. I actually adore being creative with words and have been known to throw the odd “totes” and “OMG” in to my writing, but this was just too much. Every sentence included at least one odd abbreviation, slang word, ALL CAPS, Random Capitalisation That Lost Its Meaning From Overuse, or broken up words (think LA. ME.) - and sometimes pretty much all of them at once! Some teenagers may write like that, but not many, and not to that extreme – especially if they want to be writers themselves, as Ruby does. It felt inauthentic and jarring, and frankly, extremely annoying.

Younger teens and tweens may get a kick out of this book, but it really wasn't my cup of tea.

Rating: 2/5

Fine Print
Published: January 2013, HarperCollins
Source: Netgalley


  1. Oh boy, this one sounds like a doozy. I've actually had a spot of trouble in that several of the books I just read felt way too young for me. I don't know if it's the author just trying too hard or if it's that I'm too old but something about it never quite sits right and it makes for such a disappointing experience. Oh well, at least some others might get some entertainment value out of it.

    1. There's a fine line between sounding authentic and sounding like you're trying too hard - it's hard to get right! Unfortunately this one didn't.

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