Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Review: Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

Title: Even in Paradise
Author: Chelsey Philpot
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mystery
Source: HarperCollins via Edelweiss

When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn into the larger than-life-new girl’s world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia’s handsome older brother, Sebastian.

But behind her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden... until now.
Review by Nara

Even in Paradise deals with a lot of important themes, the biggest of which is how a friendship can shape our view of the world. The book revolves mainly around the new friendship between main character Charlotte Ryder and the wild, fabulously rich Julia Buchanan. Of course, what fun would a book about rich people be if they didn't have some sort of scandalous and/or tragic past? Even in Paradise is certainly no exception.
I knew what I was doing. I was becoming that girl, the one who drops all her old friends when a new, exciting one comes around. I knew what I was doing and I couldn't help myself. I didn't want to.
Most, if not all, of the main character cast are quite flawed. Charlotte literally throws away all of her close friends to hang out with Julia (and Julia's hot older brother, Sebastian...) and her entire life begins to revolve around that friendship. Julia is extremely temperamental and, I must admit, at times unlikeable. She's just very unstable, and you're never quite sure what she's thinking. The love interest, Sebastian, is less flawed than Charlotte and Julia, but there are certainly points during the novel where I couldn't really understand his decisions. However, I feel like the flaws of the characters actually make them more realistic, and we can eventually better understand them through their mistakes.
It's only in hindsight that we can point, as easily as finding a town on a map, to the moments that shaped us- the moments when choices between yeses and nos determined the people we became.
There's a lot of foreshadowing throughout the book that something tragic is lurking around the corner- foreshadowing that begins in the first chapter. Admittedly, the story was pretty generic and drama-filled on the whole, but it's a well written drama rather than melodrama. The tragic twist was actually quite unexpected for me, but not particularly shocking. It wasn't something I'd have predicted necessarily, but when the big reveal did occur, I wasn't surprised that it happened. If that makes sense.

Even in Paradise was a fantastic contemporary drama filled with realistic characters and a tragic twist. Pick it up if you'd like a contemporary with darker themes.

Really liked it

Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Romance: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 3/5