Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wicked Games by Sean Olin

Wicked Games by Sean Olin
Release Date - June 10, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 1.5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Wicked Games is the first book in a sexy thriller series where passion, lies, and revenge collide-perfect for fans of Simone Elkeles and Sara Shepard.

To all the locals in the small beach town of Dream Point, Carter and Lilah seem like the perfect It Couple-but their relationship is about to brutally unravel before everyone's eyes.

Carter has always been a good guy, and while Lilah has a troubled past, she's been a loyal girlfriend for the last four years. When smart, sexy Jules enters the picture at a senior-year bash, Carter succumbs to temptation. And when Lilah catches wind of his betrayal, she decides that Jules needs to pay.

By the end of the summer, the line between right and wrong will be blurred beyond recognition. Blood will be shed. Nothing in Dream Point will ever be the same.

This juicy summer read will keep readers turning pages until the shocking, nail-biting finale.
Wicked Games is part Fatal Attraction, and part Gossip Girl. I was expecting a sexy, debauchery filled thriller that was a little on the sudsy side. While some of this is true, it ended up not quite connecting with me the way I wanted it to.

It's rare for me to be indifferent about characters. I tend to have strong feelings either way. In this case, I think indifferent is the perfect word. I didn't feel anything for them, because I never got to know them. They remained surface characters with little being revealed as to their motivation or personality. As a character driven reader, I need to click with them in some way in order to immerse myself into the story. I don't have to like them, but I do have to understand them, and that just didn't happen for me with this one. The romances also suffered because of this. Other than a basic outgrowing of his relationship with Lilah, and it's obvious troubles, I am not sure what attracted Carter to Jules. It seemed to be purely because she was 'different' from Lilah. Carter wasn't happy in the relationship, and that's shown quite clearly, and is explored to some degree. It's the why behind his his feelings for Jules, however, that is not. I didn't get a sense of what drew them to each other in particular. This all comes back to the characters, and making them multifaceted, and engaging. If I care about them, I'll care about the romance.

The idea, and the plot itself was an interesting concept, I just didn't quite feel it was realized to the fullest potential. If a story is tightly spun, and engaging, character flaws can sometimes be overlooked. This story didn't quite feel fleshed out enough. Things happened too quickly, or seemed out of place. It just overall felt disjointed and not pieced together properly. This is a recognizable story, and one that has been told many times before. I wanted something that made this one unique, for me that just wasn't there.

Cheating is always a messy thing to portray. It's a grey area, and a hot button issue for a lot of people. Lilah's focus is on Jules, where her anger should be directed at Carter. I think she has a right to be angry with both of them, but Carter is the one who should show her the respect of breaking up with her before hooking up with someone else. The complicated aspect of the Carter/Lilah relationship is used as an excuse for Carter's behaviour, and it didn't come across in the best light. It put the blame on Lilah. Her actions are deplorable, but blaming her for someone else's actions felt off to me.

The ending fell a little flat for me because I wasn't invested in the characters. I didn't feel I had connected with them, or the situation they found themselves in, so when the pivotal moment came I found it lacked the emotional punch it should have carried. The end 'reveal' was also a little cliche and felt tacked on as a way to continue the story. It didn't mesh with the rest of the, very little, characterization we did get. Wicked Games ends pretty definitively with little room for a direct sequel, up until the epilogue. A companion novel situation would have worked much better, but I am unsure it'll go this route.

A novel that promised to deliver scandal, sexiness, and betrayal, but didn't quite hit the mark for me. There are certainly elements that I found engaging, but ultimately this was not a book for me. I wanted more from the characters, and a little more from the execution.

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