Monday, January 23, 2017

Too Odious For Words

Hola readers!  How is everybody?  I've had an insanely busy, yet highly satisfying week (aside from a massive sick day that is).  I am now ready to give one of those ramblings I have been promising for way to long :-)  Today let's ramble about Infandous by Elana Arnold.  This is a book I had heard some interesting things about, bought for my Nook and then promptly forgot about it (this happens a lot lol).  I had finished a different book on my Nook and this one caught my attention when I was looking for the next we go.  As always SPOILERS AHEAD!
One of the definitions of the word Infandous is "too odious for words"  or "too horrible to mention", knowing this ahead of time may give you a clue to some of the things that happen in this book.  This is Sephora Golding's story and she is the one to tell it. The book is divided into several parts and each one is prefaced by a faiy tale or myth, mostly dealing with either rape, incest or some combination there of.   Sephora is the 16/17ish year old daughter of Rebecca Golding, a charismatic stunning beauty who had to give up her modeling career when she got pregnant with Sephora (called Seph by most) at the tender age of 17. Rebecca gave birth and raised Sephora completely on her own, not even telling Sephora who her father is.   Sephora loves her fact at several points in the book you may even say she is a bit obsessed with her mother...but more on that later.  Seph and her mother live in a crappy little one bedroom apartment in Venice Beach.  Seph is pretty much left to her own devices while her mother works and goes to school.  With this free time Seph spends much of her time in her little studio, working on her art.  She also surfs with her buddy Marissa and bums free drinks off her various friends who work in various places.  We learn that Seph is upset about something, something very not ok happened and this had to do with a guy named Felix.  See Seph is a wee bit obsessed with sexuality, hers, her mothers, her friends...anyways one day when she was around 15/16ish she meets this guy Felix while she is surfing.  Despite the fact that he is in his mid 30's, she decides that she wants him, tells him her name is Annie and that she is 19 and they go out to dinner.  Later that night she and Felix have sex, and though not Sephora's first time, she finds herself responding to Felix and enjoying the sex in a completely new way.  From what we read, it seems Seph enjoys herself and yet this is where her main angst lies.    We go with Sephora as she navigates other issues of teenagehood.  She struggles as her mother dates a younger man and later helps her deal with the aftermath of the breakup.  She goes to spend some time with her rich aunt and cousins, while trying to decide if she will take them up on the offer to send her to a private school, then college.  She continues to work on her art, deal with her friends and continue to obsess over what ever happened with Felix.  Felix is constantly trying to contact Seph, but she never responds.  Eventually Seph gets a job with Jordan, the guy her mom was seeing, at a surf shop where she takes care of customers and cleans the shop.  One day she takes a picture of a sculptor she created and labeled it Infandous.  She creates stickers of the work and these are seen by Jordan, who wants to put them on the surfboards he creates.  the boards are a hit and Seph is able to get her art out to the public and make a little dough.  She continues to obsess over the "bad thing" that she did, or that happened to her or something.  Anyways, we eventually get a flash back where she discovers a picture of her mother...and...Felix.  From this and the fairy tales we are supposed to infer that Felix was her father...ew.  So yeah, that revelation happened.  One day while Seph is working, Felix comes into the shop.  He is happy to finally talk to "Annie", but Seph tells him who she really is and who her mother is.  Felix realizes that he probably slept with his daughter...again...ew...and understandably freaks then leaves.  The book ends with an original fairy tale about a wolf and mermaid, an attempt by Sephora to put everything what happened into context.
World Building - The world building may be my favorite part of this book.  Most of our time is set in Venice Beach, both in the touristy parts and the more unsavory, lower income places.  The author did a fantastic job of making the reader actually feel as if you were there.  I have been to Venice Beach many times and feel that the atmosphere the author portrayed was spot on.  The author also did an amazing job describing the aunt's residence and surrounding places in Atlanta (another place I've been to multiple times) and then contrasting it with Venice Beach.  This is the type of writing that sticks with me long after the book is over.  It added a lot to this book, and as I said before is, for me at least the best part of the book.

Story - Hmmm...what to say about the story...the story was...well hmmm.  Ok.  So the story was a weird mix of meandery, rote, and weirdly engaging on occasion.  Some parts made me want to keep reading, some parts made me roll my eyes and some parts made say "Are you f(*& kidding me" out loud...which was probably not cool since I was with my young nephews.  Anyways.  For my personal taste I found the overall story to be a bit overly angsty and at times over the top.  There were bits and pieces that I found compelling, at least enough to finish the book fairly quickly...but overall I felt it to be over wrought and not always to the point.

Character - Characters were fairly well done for a YA book.  Sephora is fairly rounded and not perfect in any way, shape or form, which is refreshing...again though, a bit obsessed with sex...but we will get to that in a minute.   Rebecca (Seph's mom) is pretty interesting as we see how between her beauty and charisma she can control a room and yet is still living in pretty shitty circumstances...and yet is trying to make it better...I appreciate the fact that we are shown that beauty and charisma can be helpful, but only get you so far.  The rest of the characters are ok, a bit one note, but not to stock characterish...if that makes any sense.

Editing - For the most part the editing isn't too bad.  The book flowed, nothing was too confusing, everything got wrapped up or answered.  Not really a whole lot to say.  It was very readable, so well done editing.

Sex - Let's just get right to it shall we?  This book was chock full of sex.  Not as in graphic, porn like sex, but in the idea's, innuendo's and just overall feel.  Most of the book I felt like any character was about to get it on at any given moment.  Seph especially felt like she was obsessed with the idea of sex.  She obviously had sex more then once, but it seemed like more then that.  The artwork she encountered, the feeling of the town, the parties, her mother, everything seemed to lead back to some sort of sexual something.  This had me torn.  In some ways, I get it.  She is a teenage girl, living in a very open and relaxed household.  Her mother is a sexual creature and let's face it sex is a bit part of life in general.  I personally really really love sex, like a lot a lot....that being said, even when I was Sephora's age, I wasn't quit as obsessed as she seems to be.  My sex obsession was mostly about myself, as most teenagers obsessions are, and maybe on occasion other people popped into my horny brain, but mostly as curiosity, or how it related to me.  I think what was a bit...I don't know...weird...uncomfortable...was her obsession with her mother's sexuality.  Now me and my Mamma are bestest friends and always have been.  I probably know more about her sex life then I ever wanted, that being said, I don't ever remember dwelling on it the Seph does.  I also found it unsettling at how much she knowing enjoyed having sex with a much much older man.  Not just a couple years older, not just eyebrow raising older, but legally and mentally so not ok older.  Can we say Daddy issues?  Ok, enough about sex lol.

Mamma's - As weird as Sephora's obsession with her mom at some points was, I have to admit I identify to some degree.  I am one of those lucky girls who's mom is also her legit best friend.  I have been super tight with her since birth and I have loved every moment with her.  Every time I get to read about a kid having a decent, and even better, a wonderful relationship with a parent it makes me so happy, especially since this isn't always the trend.  My Mamma was also a single mother for a time, my Mamma also made sure her kids knew they were loved, wanted and strong, my Mamma also knows how to draw people to her with her charisma...and let's face it... my Mamma is pretty hot.  I am always proud and happy when people tell me I'm just like my Mamma, 'cause their is no one on Earth I would rather be compared to.  So reading about a character who is also in complete vibe with her mamma, even when they disagree, she knows it will be ok, this speaks to me.

Fairy Tales/Myths - Can I make a confession?  I'm getting a little tired of authors thinking they are so clever and original when they "discover" the non-Disney version of fairy tales.  This theme of re-discovery and re-telling of fairy tales, while still valid, and on occasion still well done, is no longer new or original.  I have been reading for a really long time, and while these versions may not have been the height of popularity for a time, they have been making a significant resurgence for years.  This is not to say that they are not relevent, or good, or even awesome.  I'm just sick of authors passing it off as if it's this new original thing that they are so cutting edge to do so.  Ok rant over.  The tales that were added were at least on point to the message the author was trying to get across, so that was good.  And to be honest I am never gonna turn down a myth or fairy tale, 'cause those be my faves.

Overall I keep going back and forth in my feelings on this book.  One one hand I really enjoyed the atmosphere the author created.  I also appreciated some of the characters and I can't resist a good fairy tale.  On the flip side, there were just a few too many times where I was rolling my eyes or telling myself "are you seriously for real serious (love my lack of vocab today lol) THAT would never happen in a million years".  Apparently I'm not the only one having trouble with this book.  The reviews I've read are split into three categories.  1)  Loved this book, dealt with the tough issues nobody wants to talk about.  2) ew ew ew ew ew she slept with her DAD! ew ew ew ew  3)  I'm confused I really enjoyed/really disliked this book all at the same time.  I think I fall into the last category.  There were some things I thought were really well done, yet at the same time there were some things I was just  I give this book I don't know...maybe a 6 out of 10 penny mermaids and recommend it to anybody who wants some atmosphere and doesn't mind some werirdness.  So reading through this I realize my articulation skill are almost nihl, so I will stop here.  Let me know your thoughts on books like this.  Happy Reading Everybody!

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