Lacy Literacy

Book Reviews, Discussions, Listicles, More

❈ Huge thanks to Penguin Teen for providing me with an ARC❈

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Title: The Careful Undressing of Love
Author: Corey Ann Haydu
Release Date: January 31st, 2017
Genre: Young Adult, Alternate History, Fantasy
Pages: 266

Potential Triggers: Suicide
POV: first person

My Rating: ★

Synopsis:

The girls of Devonairre Street have always been told they’re cursed. Any boy they love is certain to die too soon. But this is Brooklyn in 2008, and the curse is less a terror and more a lifestyle accessory—something funky and quaint that makes the girls from the shortest street in Brooklyn special. They wear their hair long and keys around their necks. People give them a second look and whisper “Devonairre” to their friends. But it’s not real. It won’t affect their futures.

Then Jack—their Jack, the one boy everyone loved—dies suddenly and violently. And now the curse seems not only real, but like the only thing that matters. All their bright futures have suddenly gone dark.

“If you love someone and they vanish, you are left nodding like a zombie and throwing teacups at a wall. I never want to be a person who throws teacups at the wall”*

Here we are… my first 1 star of 2017 on Lacy Literacy. If anything, I’m surprised it didn’t come sooner.

My low rating of The Careful Undressing of Love isn’t just because I did not like it. Mainly, it is because it left me feeling completely unsatisfied. Everything from the plot, the characters, the worldbuilding, and the resolution just left me feeling empty (and not in the good ‘I’m so emotionally drained it was amazing’ way). Waka Flocka really sums up how I felt about The Careful Undressing of Love:

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Despite my low rating, there were a couple things that I liked about The Careful Undressing of Love. Typically, I’m in the anti-Purple Pose camp. I have given many low ratings to books that have it because most of the time, I can’t stand it. What surprised me about The Careful Undressing of Love’s Purple Prose was that it didn’t annoy me. In fact, I liked it. There was also repetition of phrases like “like moons and tides”. I actually like this type of thing, and enjoy it in other books like the ASOIAF series. I think it is a nice way of tying things together.

There were a lot of worldbuilding issues with The Careful Undressing of Love. I love urban myths and legends. Nearly all of my favorite books have them. Because the plot of The Careful Undressing of Love was based on a local curse, I thought I would really enjoy that aspect of the book, but that didn’t happen. There is no background or origin story for the curse. All we get is some vague references as to how Angelika, the resident old lady who warns the kids about the curse, had fallen in love once. Don’t get me wrong, I’m okay with the mysterious influencer/higher power, but it ended up feeling cheap. Also, the setting was poorly constructed. The Careful Undressing of Love is supposed to be an alternate history where there was a bombing of Time Square. It was never elaborated on, or truly explained, so it is hard to imagine the world the book takes place in.

The characters in The Careful Undressing of Love were cardboard. At the end of the book, they weren’t even worthy of being called cardboard. Nothing about them felt natural. The actions that side characters made, especially Deliah, Isla, and Charlotte, were there solely to further the plot in the direction the author wanted. They truly were plot devices with no amount of uniqueness. The not-quite-a-villain Angelika was the most annoying of them all. Every time she appeared I wanted to throw the book. Because so much of her motivation relied on shaky world building, it was hard not to be enraged by her droning on about how the girls shouldn’t fall in love.

The biggest problem I had with The Careful Undressing of Love was how pointless the whole book turned out to be. The ending was beyond disappointing. It was weak, and made me confused as to what the author was trying to prove. All that Purpley Prose about love and Lorna’s quirky~ adventures like wedding crashing amounted to nothing. I’m fine with books having melancholy endings. In this case, it just ended up feeling like one massive waste of time. Even if things ended “happy”, I probably still wouldn’t have been satisfied. The characters that the ending would be built on meant nothing.

I don’t like having spoilers in my reviews, but I want to specifically address content from the ending so Spoiler Alert until the end of the review. The last chapter before the Epilogue, the girls decide to kill themselves, thinking it was the only way to end the curse. Isla ends up jumping, and surprising the rest of the girls who don’t end up doing it. Just like that. No elaboration, and then the epilogue happens which doesn’t even mention the fallout of that. We end up learning about how Lorna and her Mom moved away. That was it. I’ve never read a book with such a dissatisfying ending before that used suicide as a plot device. I even had to go back and reread it several times to confirm that it actually happened because I really couldn’t believe it.

I would not recommend The Careful Undressing of Love.

*Quote taken from uncorrected proof & subject to change

Goodreads LinkMy Review on Goodreads

One thought on “ARC Review: The Careful Undressing of Love by Corey Ann Haydu

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