I actually read Portal a few years ago, but I realized that I’ve now mentioned it in two of my previous posts and thought I’d revisit it now that I’ve got a new forum for reviews.
Author: Imogen Rose
Published: January, 2010
My original review can be found here.
When I first read the description of the book, I was thinking I might get something along the lines of Donnie Darko, which at times made my brain hurt, but was still a great movie. Sadly, that was not the case.
16 year-old Arizona Stevens lives in New Jersey with her father, living the life of a typical tomboy and playing on the boys ice hockey team. Suddenly, she “wakes up” in the backseat of her mother’s H2 9 months in the past as platinum blond Arizona Darley, cheerleading captain. She now lives with her mother, who she despises, stepfather and brother (who were previously nonexistent), sister, and (previously dead) grandmother. Freaked out but wanting to avoid a trip to the psych ward (?!), she plays along, pretending that this is all perfectly normal. She goes to school and hangs out with her “friends,” meets a guy (Kellan), and discovers she’s on the cheerleading squad, something she never would’ve done in her “real” life. Because this was so out of character for her, she decided to take some action and try out for the hockey team in order to bring some normalcy to her life. In her own words,
“This [cheerleading] was a total dealbreaker. Dream or no dream, I immediately decided that I had to play for the varsity ice hockey team.”
So, instead of trying to keep a low profile while she figures out what the heck is going on, she tries out for the varsity hockey team to prove she’s not a girly-girl cheerleader. One thing she did love about her “new” life was that she drove a brand new Jeep. She was super stoked about having a Jeep to drive around in. As long as there’s a cool car and a hockey team, life was good.
Arizona makes it clear to her mother Olivia (more than halfway through the book) that she knows Olivia has brought into the future. But instead of insisting that they discuss it right then and there, Arizona gets ready for school, goes down for breakfast, talks about hockey, tells her mom she wants to talk to her after school, talks about hockey some more, then leaves for school. Now I’m sorry, but if I found out my mother kidnapped me from the future and the life I loved to come back and live with her, a stepfather and brother who never existed before, my formerly dead grandmother, and my little sister, I would want to talk about it NOW. Not when it was convenient, but NOW. I can guarantee a hockey game, school, or anything else short of death would not keep me from making sure that happened. And honestly, if I were Olivia, I certainly wouldn’t be letting my daughter go on with her daily routine, ESPECIALLY considering there were other people who were in on the scheme hanging around. She went through hell and high water to bring her daughter into this alternate reality, so instead of sitting down and talking it out, the two just agree to talk about it after Arizona goes through the day not getting her butt kicked by the bully on the hockey team or killed by her crazy ex-friend. Who, incidentally, knows all about her previous life.
Later, when Arizona explained to Kellan that she was from the future (after telling him repeatedly throughout the book that there was “so much” she needed to tell him), instead of thinking she was completely bonkers, he believed her in a matter of a few lines. Lines! The book is 354 pages long, I think a few pages could’ve been spared for some discussion and persuasion.
As for the ending, well, it was incredibly abrupt and weird. The epilogue, normally an extension of the book, read more like a preview to the next book in the series. It introduced characters that had not appeared in Portal at all. The only reason I knew that it had anything to do with the series at all was because one of the characters was brought up.
What I Liked:
What I Didn’t Like:
Aside from everything,
1. The language and word choice used was often very awkward. There was a constant lack of contractions, no use of slang, and just a lot of awkward phrasing. Ms. Rose didn’t seem to capture a true teenager’s voice and ended up taking on the voice of that teenager’s grandmother.
2. There was designer name-dropping EVERYWHERE. Juicy, Marc Jacobs, PacSun, Jeep, Hummer, Abercrombie, Nike, Louboutin, Chanel, Hermes, and Apple were just a few. It’s really hard to get into a book when it seems like the author was getting paid for product placement.
3. The editing for Portal was atrocious. There were missing question marks, oddly placed commas, hyphens in random places, and various other grammatical errors. To be fair, the more I get into self-published books, the more I try to cut authors some slack because professional or formal editing is not always readily available. However, when it seems as though the bare minimum amount of editing was done, I start to see the author as somewhat lazy. But, the book was only $.99, so I guess I got what I paid for.
Overall this book was terrible. I normally hate to be so harsh, but in this case I can’t help it. The language was weird, there wasn’t much distinction between character voices, not enough questions were asked, and the grammatical errors were rampant. Even in re-reading Portal for this review I made an attempt to see it in a more favorable light, but I couldn’t. If I actually had to listen to the characters in this book speak in real life I might put my head through a wall. Maybe if it were picked up by a publishing house some of these things would be worked out, but until then I have to stick with my one-star review.