Published: 13 March 2018
Publisher: Tanglewood Press
Category: Young Adult/Realistic Fiction
Sibling 1 throws blenders and plays guitar. Sibling 2 is allergic to everything and is into magic. Sibling 3 is a varsity swimmer with a group of female fans. Enough said. The only thing they have in common is their biological father, and the only thing they can agree on is that they all want to meet him. With the help of a broken-down, “borrowed” Jeep, KT, Jesse, and Gabe make their way across the country evading police, trying their luck on the slots, and meeting a life-changing pig, all to track down Donor 806, their father. Any hope of success requires smarts, luck, and ingenuity. Good thing they have each other…even if they don’t see it that way.
Rating: 1 Star (though I’d rate it negative stars if possible)
CW: offensive comment relating to homophobia, stalker behavior
I think I have found my least favorite book since The To-Do List by J.C. Miller, which I reviewed last year. Not since then have I found a book that so made me want to heave my phone through a window, and that includes the books I’ve already DNF’d this year.
I could almost respect this book if it were a satire of other books of similar genres, but I don’t think it is. It takes itself far too seriously for how badly I found it to be written. The characters start out badly and get worse the more of them are introduced. The pacing is all over the place. The plot was flimsy at best. There were so many head shaking moments I felt like I was getting a headache.
The best I could say about this book is that the author clearly loved putting in as many musical references as possible. KT was always picking up a guitar, even if she didn’t play it at the moment, or talking about the title of a song. I didn’t know at the time I picked this book up, but the author is apparently a famous songwriter, so that’d account for those details.
Now I’ll go into detail on the problems I had with 806:
Kim, KT’s mom: is a throwaway parent that is disrespected at every turn. She makes some questionable romantic choices, but never any that seem to put her and her daughter in danger, simply ones that don’t lead to commitment or seem good enough according to her or KT’s standards. That alone doesn’t make her a bad person, though it certainly seems so to KT. What does make Kim less than a desirable character/mother is that she is so flimsy. There’s no depth to her as a person other than this love obsessed person who chooses one wrong guy after another.
Kim’s biggest mistake, and the one that infuriated me the most, is her handling of the KT-and-her-“dad” situation. All KT’s life her mom has told her that Max, KT’s “dad”, walked out before she was born and when at 17 KT demands to see him, Kim gives her a Yellow Pages advert for his place of work. Off KT goes to confront him only to find out that a( he never left and b) he’s not her dad in any sense of the word, she’s actually the product of a sperm donor/potential inheritance scam. Why the F*** would you send your daughter off to someone she’s never met, who she thinks is her FATHER, knowing full well he’s going to blow the biggest secret of her life? That was a terrible character decision and terrible development.
KT: herself had a really grating personality. She was a caricature of a brat, someone who assumed they knew better than everyone around them, especially their mother. While granted she did not have the best example both due to the writer’s fault and the character’s personality, I’m not willing to place all the blame on KT’s mother. KT had no respect for either her mother or anyone else. She even turns on her friend and band mate, Sasha, when she thinks Sasha got a tattoo, then plays off her vile reaction like it’s a joke that she had a say in what Sasha does with her body. The only person who might have deserved the level of bratty behavior that oozed out of KT was Dylan, the third part of the band who was little more than a harasser and a whole other problem in the book.
She has no filter regarding other people, whether it be their sexualities or their dietary practices. KT is vegetarian and makes comments about being ready to be rid of Jesse and Gabe, her biological siblings, after they order meat products at their first meeting at a Fuddruckers. She barely knows them beyond passing high school stereotypes because they apparently attend the same school, but sees that as a fit idea to have towards others.
Then there’s a moment when Jesse tells the group that his moms are splitting and he has to choose which he’ll stay with. Instead of being compassionate and offering sympathies, KT’s first response? “Did one of them go straight?” What the hell, KT? What the hell, Author?
Her prejudice against her bio sibs based on their apparent carnivore tendencies and her careless homophobic comment made me dislike her all the more.
Dylan: one of the most irritating characters of the book. He was a harasser for the sake of being a harasser and served no purpose to the narrative. Every moment he spoke was a painful one from a reader’s perspective, particularly when he became a stalker. He shows up outside her bedroom to sing her a song her wrote, he tries to follow her to Arizona, all of this after repeated rebuffs. And does the author get anyone to recognize this, much less KT? NO! KT thinks it’s sweet and ends up dating this creep at the end, after he stalks her across the country with Jesse’s help, no less! No, honey, that’s some danger right there.
Gabe/Jesse: Honestly, there wasn’t much to get from either of these characters. They had some basic characteristics. Gabe like magic tricks and had allergies. Jesse was a jock that was good at swimming. That was about it. They had nothing built upon this foundation and I couldn’t really get any sense of personality from them.
It rushes and takes no time to develop anything, which is an enormous pet peeve of mine. There were so many coincidences and easy outs that I was surprised that the donor dad didn’t end up calling them and telling them his address.
The plot was flimsy at best and utterly unbelievable at worst. There were “developments”, such as donor numbers being mixed up (806 is actually 908), that sounded absurd. The cross country trip, which could have been pretty interesting, was based on even flimsier evidence than the donor numbers. From St. Lois to Sedona to L.A, the hijinks were ridiculous and felt like plot points pulled out of a hat of tricks rather than a well thought out journey.
I get that KT, Jesse, and Gabe are teenagers, but when you call the contact info your bio dad left to follow up a lead who you thought went to Harvard and find out that a) the office sounds like a pet hoarder’s home and there’s Jerry Springer playing in the background and b) it wasn’t Harvard but “Horvard University”, home of the mail order degrees in the “Artistry of Auras” and “Working With Your Animal Allies”, are you really going to steal a car and go to Arizona? That seemed really, really stupid.
Conclusion: I really can’t understand why this book went to print. It felt very poorly done. While the concept had promise, I believe it would have benefited from a lot of heavy editing, both for time and for characterization. There’s no enjoyment in this book, nothing to keep a reader engaged. It would be a waste to print physical copies in its current state, I’m sorry to say.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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