Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Review: Doon by Carey Corp & Lorie Langdon


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I wanted to love Doon. I really, really did. It seemed to offer so many elements that typically makes a book a winner for me: time travel, romance, Scottish setting, strong female friendship. (Plus a seriously gorgeous cover.) I was totally excited about Doon as soon as I saw several BookTubers talking about it and I was ready to fall in love. Unfortunately... not so much.

Doon is the story of two best friends, Veronica and Mackenna, who travel to Scotland to spend the summer after their high school graduation. Through some rather unclear/sketchy magic (rings? spells? a calling?) the girls cross the Brig O' Doon and are transported into another realm. The kingdom of Doon is quite the contradiction: a medieval feel, courtly manners, no electricity, but there's also modern plumbing, a pizzeria and sushi. Ahem. Once there, Veronica sees the boy she has been having visions of, Jamie, who happens to be the Crown Prince of Doon. Mackenna, naturally, is quite taken with Jamie's brother Duncan. The girls are met with suspicion and initially accused of being in league with the witch who has long plagued Doon's existence. And there begins their time in Doon.

My issues with Doon became apparent quickly with an overused trope that I am well and truly tired of. Each girl describes the other as drop-dead gorgeous but neither sees it in herself. (Yawn. I'm so over beautiful girls who are completely unaware of their beauty.) Likewise, the two love interests, both princes (of course) are devastatingly attractive. I know this because we are told repeatedly. Veronica was pleasant enough but her lovesick demeanor became puzzling in the face of Jamie's apparent indifference. But I would take her somewhat lackluster personality over Mackenna any day. I found Mackenna abrasive from the very beginning. Once in Doon it was even worse. Her flippant attitude when faced with a strange land, different customs, not to mention an accusation of witchcraft seemed completely out of place. Instead of laying low, trying to allay the people's fears, and basically make nice during her time there, Mackenna smarted off at every opportunity and generally made every situation worse. As a theater buff, she constantly tossed around phrases like "Holy Hammerstein" and "Sweet Baby Sondheim." It was just plain silly and became annoying quickly. Besides her devotion to her friend, she simply was not a likable character.

I was anxious to immerse myself in the plot and get to understand the history of Doon and the magic surrounding it. It was not to be. And that was ultimately my greatest disappointment. There was so much promise and so much that could have been done but the plot was seriously lightweight. There was never any real sense of urgency or danger conveyed. Any scene that could have had real intensity was wrapped up quickly and easily. Squeaky clean romance was the focus and plot and character development took a backseat. I was just left wanting more.

To be so romance-focused, Doon is very much on the sweet/clean teen side. There is nothing beyond a few kisses. I've seen a couple reviews that refer to Doon as Christian YA fiction and if that's the case it would certainly explain the oh-so-chaste romance.

With the lightweight plot and the my-prince-has-come romance, Doon seems suited for the younger end of the YA audience. I imagine 13 year old girls will enjoy the pseudo-magical land and the sweet/swoony romance aspect. But I really wanted more and unfortunately Doon didn't fully deliver.



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