Paradise wasn't supposed to suck. Not the state of being, but a resort in the Caribbean. Jena, Dakota, Skye, and Owen are all there for different reasons, but at Paradise their lives become tangled together in ways none of them can predict. Paradise will change them all. It will change Jena, whose first brush with romance takes her that much closer to having a life, and not just reading about those infinitely cooler and more exciting. It will change Dakota, who needs the devastating truth about his past to make him realize that he doesn't have to be a jerk just because people think he's one. It will change Skye, a heartbreakingly beautiful actress, who must come to terms with the fact that for once she has to stop playing a role or face the consequences. and it will change Owen, who has never risked anything before and who will take the leap from his online life to a real one all because of a girl he met at Paradise. . . . From confused to confident and back again, one thing's certain: Four months after it all begins, none of them will ever be the same.
Mackler's latest is structured as four interconnecting novellas that explore the gulf between teenagers' inner lives and what they project externally. Starting with awkward Jena's Caribbean vacation, Mackler (Vegan Virgin Valentine) is at her best with the kind of insecurities readers will find familiar, be it Jena's carefully chosen flight outfit ("under the glaring lights of Kennedy airport it all felt wrong") or her self-consciousness around Skye, the glamorous daughter of her mother's best friend. Jena has a fling with studly Dakota, who narrates the second novella. Dakota is the least likable character (earlier, he tells Jena, "[Y]ou have some fine-looking tits"), but his growth as he reflects on his rocky relationship with his girlfriend, who died in a car accident, is moving. Privileged Manhattanite Skye is at the center of the third story, which exposes the depression under the surface of her seemingly charmed life. The final tale, about Owen, Dakota's brother, ties up various loose ends and provides a happy ending. Mackler's protagonists have distinct, engaging voices; if the book never gets terribly deep, it's still an entertaining read. Ages 14-up. (Jan.) Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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December 31, 2009
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