Saturday, April 4, 2015

Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot Review

"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."

My, my, my. Even In Paradise has a lot of parallels between The Great Gatsby (yes, that one) and itself. Now, I'm too tired (I'm not a night owl) to figure out all of the parallels the author has slipped in there, but if you are one of those readers who likes making connections, then this one is for you. But of course, fans of The Great Gatsby would probably also enjoy Even In Paradise. 

There are some great characters in Even In Paradise. Charlotte (or Charlie, as Julia calls her) is one of those girls who has some close friends, friendly with most girls, though not close close with everyone else. (Yes, I do realize I put close twice in a row.) When she meets Julia, her whole life gets turned upside down. In a good way. But becoming part of the infamous/famous Buchanan family has a price, of course. It is really entertaining (and interesting) to see the madness unfold. 

Julia, also a great character, is a lesbian. She becomes friends with Charlie (though she isn't Julia's type). Connecting with her, Julia has a sense of life in her (though there is a lot of darkness). Even In Paradise may have a narrator in Charlie, but it has a spotlight on Julia. (I realize how similar that sounds to The Great Gatsby just two minutes ago.) In a way, Julia and Charlie has become the closest of friends (with some rough bumps that don't last very long, because they kiss and make up), but Charlie has also become Julia's babysitter.

(Sorry! I think that is too much spoilers, but there is a whole lot of drama. Like ABC's Revenge drama, though not THAT much. Revenge is crazily over 9000 on a 1 to 10 scale. Even In Paradise has a tamed 10.) 

I love endings (don't we all?), and I have to say that I'm rather pleased by this one. Very hopeful. (And that is the end of my blabbering mouth of endless spoilers!) 

The plot is well-paced. We jump right into the first meeting between Charlie and Julia. Where it all started. The beginning gives off an ominous tone that simply builds (gets better and worse) until it falls down in the end. Some of the best moments happen with Charlie's... Oh, great, I can't tell spoilers. But Charlie has the best pieces of dialogue with Sebastian. (There is another moment with Mrs. Buchanan that is worthy of mention.) I'm just saying. 

Overall, Even In Paradise is a dramatic read, a tamed version of the soap opera, Revenge. There are some amazing characters, especially the one found in our dear narrator. There are great moments I can reread over and over again. And yes, The Great Gatsby has a small part in it (but it is not crucial to the plot for those of you who haven't read that dramatic book). 

Rating: Four out of Five

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