Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Book Discussion/Book Review Undercover by Beth Kephart

Undercover by Beth Kephart

Publish Date: September 2007
Age Group: Young Adult
Publisher: HarperCollins

Like a modern-day Cyrano de Bergerac, Elisa ghostwrites love notes for the boys in her school. But when Elisa falls for Theo Moses, things change fast. Theo asks for verses to court the lovely Lila—a girl known for her beauty, her popularity, and a cutting ability to remind Elisa that she has none of these. At home, Elisa's father, the one person she feels understands her, has left on an extended business trip. As the days grow shorter, Elisa worries that the increasingly urgent letters she sends her father won't bring him home. Like the undercover agent she feels she has become, Elisa retreats to a pond in the woods, where her talent for ice-skating gives her the confidence to come out from under cover and take center stage. But when Lila becomes jealous of Theo's friendship with Elisa, her revenge nearly destroys Elisa's ice-skating dreams and her plan to reunite her family.

Right here is where I would normally place my review. However I feel as though I can't fairly review this book. This might be slightly hard to explain so bear with me.

Undercover is an extremely poetic book. The writing style is symbolic, full of adjectives, and flows elegantly. To put it simply, Kephart's writing sings. The best way I can explain it is by using a Twilight analogy. When Bella explains the way Alice runs and walks as so graceful that she dances, that is what I think of when I read Kephart's writing. So naturally that means I loved the book right?

Wrong. This is where it gets dicey for me. Even though I think Kephart's writing style is beautiful and can understand why so many people love this book, its just not my style. Symbols and poetic verse just aren't my cup of tea. I'm an extremely black and white person. Although I see her writing style as brilliant and beautiful, it still bores me. I know that sounds weird. My personality type just wasn't designed to enjoy this type of writing. I have always found this writing style as beating around the bush. I think that's why I read so many Vampire books, cause there is always someone who is totally badass.

So here's the problem. The plot is unique, the writing is beautiful but I still didn't enjoy the book. Most people have review policies stating that they give tough love and if they hate it than so be it, and I am one of those people. But I feel that this is different. I don't hate it. I just feel like this isn't my place to rate the book. I would give the plot a four out of five and the writing style a five but overall interest for me was a one. I believe it would be wrong of me to give this book a rating. I am not the right person to drive off readers because it is a beautiful book, just not my style.

Sorry if that was all in Jibberish, it's hard to explain that clearly. This is where the discussion comes in. I'm curious if any of you have come across this problem and what you did to solve it.

Has anyone ever read a book that you knew was great, yet you just couldn't enjoy it? How did you go about rating something like that? Do any of you steer clear of certain types of writing?



  1. I get where your coming from, and have felt that way about a LOT of books, but usually for me its the opposite-the writing is awful but the story is great. It's so hard to do reviews for books like that. Why can't they just be good or bad? haha

    I'm halfway through Undercover, but I have to say I love it. I'm the kind of person that loves books with writing that, as you put it, "sings". And I have to point out its beautiful cover, because, after all, everyone judges a book by its cover ;)

    The story-line actually hooked me, because I could see myself relating (though regretfully, I don't write as freakin' well as her, and I can't twirl on ice to save my life) to Elisa's introversion and complicated relationship with Theo. And I liked the idea of ghost-writing love notes. That just made me laugh :)

    So now that I've written a letter... haha

  2. No, that makes sense. I'm reading Fragile Eternity right now and while I never felt any solid connection to any of Melissa's books, I know that a ton of people enjoy them. So thanks for letting us know! I still think I'm going to check this out.

  3. I actually couldn't get through Wicked Lovely. I gave it up after fifty pages. It's sad because so many people love those books and I loved Wondrous Strange but WL just bored me and confused me so much that I dropped it.

  4. hahaha, that must be tough. i can't offer much advice seeing as how I just started but I do the best I can and no one should hate the reviewer for their honest opinion. I started Tithe and that was difficult. Just hard, but i know people love that book. My policy is to be honest. Not harsh but say what I think.

  5. Good Review!

    I nominated your blog for the I Love Your Blog Award. You can go to my blog to get your badge, and the rules on spreading it.

    Happy reading :)