Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Book #1 in Leaving Paradise
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 8th, 2007
Angie’s Review – 3 Skulls – C
Leaving Paradise was a whole lot of ‘too’ for me. It was too much, too simple, too predictable…and way too clichéd. But you know what else it was? Pretty damn compelling. I had a hard time putting this book down when life reared its ugly head.
It’s clear from the beginning of this story that all is not as it seems. The secret is pretty obvious from the get-go with a lot of foreshadowing peppered throughout. But forget about that. The bigger picture in this book is trying like hell to find yourself again when a single event changes everything, and when, without even realizing it, you start adopting other’s perceptions as your own. Maggie got on my nerves many times throughout this book. She was way too miserable for me. Her life had been dramatically altered by the accident, I get that. But this girl needed something, anything, in her life to go her way. It never happened. And I thought it was very unrealistic that she didn’t have a single friend left after her accident. Caleb was this book’s saving grace for me. I adored his character. I’m not sure that jail necessarily changed him so much as it brought a different side of him to light. He was genuine, and I like that he didn’t hold back. I had a hard time believing that he’d ever be attracted to anyone like Kendra. Her character was very one dimensional and was clearly added for drama. And to be honest, the drama surrounding her wasn’t even that exciting. I think with everything else that was going on this book, she wasn’t essential to the storyline.
The pacing was decent most of the time. This book was in alternating first person, and being inside Maggie’s head was occasionally overwhelming. It was pity party after pity party, and I got it at first, but there comes a time when the point has been made. Again, I loved being inside Caleb’s head. His intentions were always clear, and he was determined to get his life back together. I liked that he wanted to clear the air with Maggie and get everything out in the open – as much as he could. He didn’t miss a beat, and it was sad to see his family deteriorate around him.
I listened to the audio of this book, and I loved the male narrator. His voice reminded me of Matthew Gray Gubler’s. I could’ve (and did) listen to him for hours. I didn’t care for the voice of Maggie, but I’m not sure if it was the narrator’s voice or just how whiny her character sometimes was.
While there were some parts of this book that didn’t necessarily work for me, as a whole, I was enthralled while I was reading it. It left me interested enough to read the next one in the series.
Series Reading Order:
1. Leaving Paradise
2. Return to Paradise