Courtney Milan, $0.99
Contemporary Romance, 2016
The Year of the Crocodile – yes, there is no crocodile in the Chinese zodiac, but don’t look at me; I’m not the author – is an actual sequel to Trade Me. It is set about a year after the longer book ends, and now, Blake is going to visit Tina’s parents. This one retains much of the same elements of that book, and you have to be really enamored of the idea of a wealthy white young man having to check his privilege and discover “simple” things.
I mean, sure, it’s nice to reconnect with the simpler pleasures in life, but since Blake is going back to being a bazillionaire and Tina is still going to be a bazillionaire’s squeeze no matter how often she tries to claim that she’s a simple girl, excuse me if I don’t shed tears of joy for them. I’m saving up all those tears for the day when I get to be a bazillionaire or a bazillionaire’s squeeze myself, and you bet you won’t find me pretending to be humbled by my visit to Wal-Mart and other rot. If I have all that money, I will wipe my rear end with hundred dollar bills and insist on drinking from diamond slippers. Screw all that plebeian crap!
Anyway, this story. Here’s the thing. The author’s rather florid way of writing can be beautiful to read when the story is a historical romance. Place the same style of writing in a contemporary romance and new adult hybrid, however, and the whole thing feels stilted and staged. Adam’s first person narrative feels a lot like a Tumblr sensitive soul’s anguished snowflake poetry – one that has been edited sixty times in the last six days – and his message to a mysterious person in the penultimate “Buy that book! Buy it!” moment makes me laugh in a manner completely unintended by the author because it feels so… artificial. Will love truly be able to transform the rather self-absorbed Adam in the first book into this… this.. thing?
Also, a part of me is hoping to get some Chinese family antics, but I’m rather disappointed in how Tina’s family is more about them going all moo-moo angst about how the Chinese government tried to kill everybody and how Adam is going to do Falun Gong even if it means it would get him banned from China for life… or something like that. And if you are wondering why Adam seems to come up so often in this review… well, the author for some reason wants to write many, many books about Adam and I don’t know why. I could be mean and say that Adam is writing those love notes to the author, but come on, we are all good people who are into love and happiness. Still, I have no idea why Adam is going to be front and center in the author’s planned future books… but then again, given the pace at which she writes, I’d probably have long departed to heaven by the time Adam’s Beautiful Adventures even reach the halfway point.
And I suppose it is a good tell of how much this story has captured my interest when, while writing this review, I accidentally switched Adam’s name for Blake’s (and vice-versa), and I only realized it when I reread the whole thing. And I also accidentally typed “May” instead of “Tina” after being distracted by a particularly annoying duel in Overwatch, and I didn’t catch that at all until much later. This story is disappointingly lacking in authentic-seeming Chinese spice, which is what I was hoping for when I decided to read this in the first place. Why send an Americanized couple to visit the Chinese parents when the parents aren’t going to have some spicy Chinese flavor?
Anyway, The Year of the Crocodile is like those American Chinese food – Americans may love it, but a Chinese from outside of that country, like me, would only look at that deep fried stuff and wonder how those things come to be called Chinese food. Same word, different cultural context, I’d wager.