October 21, 2012

Wicked Sweet: A Panoramic Review

"Chantal is a planner, and her summer-before-senior-year plan requires best friend Jillian, resumé updating, and studying for AP classes. Jillian wants something different and is afraid to leave introverted Chantal in the dust. All that changes, though, when popular classmates Parker and Will suspiciously start hanging out with the girls.

Chantal only sees one thing: Jillian ditching her for Parker—a guy who can’t even be trusted! Chantal hatches a new plan, one that will expose Parker and Will for what they truly are, and along the way, get her best friend back with the littlest lie and a lot of mouthwatering cake. After all, what are best friends for?"
(from Goodreads)

Wicked Sweet by Mar'ce Merrell
My reaction: 

I wasn't that impressed with this one; in fact, I even skimmed towards the end. The main reason I kept reading was to see if Chantal and Will would end up together and if Will was a good guy underneath his misogynistic, chauvinistic pig attitude (spoiler, highlight if you want to know the answer: no, he isn't! He's just a jerkish sleazebag.) I also wanted to know what was going to happen with all the cakes and the final reveal, which was unfortunately a let-down.

I wasn't a big fan of any of the characters (it's told from 4 perspectives). Parker is a boring, clueless dope who is very self-absorbed in some ways. Things just tend to go right over his head. And yet, somehow he's the kind of guy that everyone loves — and he knows it. Jillian's a typical YA teenage girl, who's trying out something new by entering the world of dating and fashion. The story involving her mom and brothers was more interesting, but not exactly feel-good, and it meant that Jillian was stressed all the time because of what she had to deal with at home. Plus, she and Parker didn't have much chemistry, which meant a bland romance for the pair of them.

Chantal comes across as a little strange (intentionally, I'm sure), as she's not so adept socially and she's quite geeky. She's a pretty relatable character and I had to sympathize with her being the butt of all these jokes and getting bullied. Chantal feels scared and unsure a lot of the time, and has panic attacks, so there's definitely an element of anxiety that she struggles with.
When she starts baking cakes, she starts losing weight and gains significant measure of self-esteem. It was neat to see that coordinated with a hobby like baking. But the only character I found really interesting was Will, and not in a good way! He was slimy-jerk kind of interesting — although he undeniably had personality.

The actual storyline was super implausible in terms of the whole cake-as-revenge scheme (who would really care if some guy was receiving cakes from a secret admirer?). It really wasn't logical and the whole celebrity aspect was just preposterous. Basically, the plot ended up being a bunch of build-up for something that wasn't particularly spectacular.

Best aspect: its portrayal of different kinds of families. Jillian's family is unusual — she has lots of brothers, a terrible mother, and "dads" who wander in and out of her life. Chantal has parents who pressure her to do well in school, presenting the image of a "perfect home" but not really being there for her emotionally. The only thing that makes Will sympathetic at all is that he has a really mean dad who is verbally abusive to him and his mom. Will's mom is a bit of a pushover and gives into his dad but really loves Will. Parker has rich, elitist parents who care a lot about status and want the same kind of lifestyle for their son.

Also, I liked the friendship that develops between Chantal and Anneliese. Anneliese appears at the start to be a stereotypical popular girl, but she ends up taking Chantal under her wing a little and helping her out. It was sweet to see that friendship grow between two such completely different personality types. 
If I could change something... Good grief, where do I start?


a) come up with a better way for Chantal to get back at Will. Seriously, she can discover her love for baking on her own time.

b) bring Mitch into the picture as a potential love interest much earlier in the book, so we actually have a chance to get to know him and aren't left going, "Mitch? That guy who appeared in, like, one scene earlier? Huh?" Either that or make Will's character far more appealing, and axe Mitch entirely. 

c) Give some of the characters much-needed depth — for instance, Chantal's parents. Right now they're more like cardboard cut-outs.

d) Breathe some life into the Parker-Jillian romance! 

e) Wrap it up with an exciting finale. The ending here is all about how Chantal stands up for herself, demonstrating that she's gained confidence. I see the point, but it was just kind of cheesily cliche. More importantly, Will deserved greater humiliation! 

If you haven't read it: don't bother, unless this is the only book you've got at hand and you've run out of other options for filling your time.

If you have read it: agree with my assessment? Disagree?


Visions of Will laughing at me make me cough, as if I'm allergic to mere thoughts of him. I cough harder. I have to turn the mixer off because my coughing fit is becoming a panic attack.

I can't catch my breath. Past my kitchen windows is the darkest night and I'm under the lights. The shark is out there. I fly through the house pulling down blinds, shutting curtains, turning off lights, until it's only me again, in the kitchen, leaning against the counter. How could I have been so exposed?

I'm so desperate I consider calling my mother to ask for her advice. She'll say, with friends like that you don't need enemies. Next year, I'll be homeschooled.

Final verdict: 2.5 shooting stars. This book wasn't terrible, it was just a pretty boring, flat kind of read. I was quite into it at one point, but then it got so far-fetched and the characters weren't developing the way I wanted them to. In the end, it just didn't go in the direction I was hoping for.

Disclaimer: I received this as an ARC for review from the publisher.
This book counts towards my goals for the Just Contemporary reading challenge and the Debut Author reading challenge.

1 comment:

  1. Oh jeeze, this one definitely sounds like a bit of a wreck. It sucks when you can see the potential there, but so much stuff happens that doesn't make sense, or you just shake your head at.


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