Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Review - Bittersweet Dreams by V.C. Andrews

Bittersweet Dreams
by V.C. Andrews
Publisher: Pocket Books
Pub. Date: October 27, 2015
ISBN: 978-1451650907
Pages: 390
Buy Link: Amazon


I couldn't have this year's Halloween Madness event without at least featuring one title by the great Gothic author V.C. Andrews. Sadly, the author of Flowers in the Attic passed away in 1986, but at least two new titles are published each and every year, written by the ghost writer, Andrew Neiderman.

Being released in paperback and in e-book formats is Bittersweet Dreams. The novel centers on the Mayfair Cummings, a intellectual gifted teenager with a not-so great life. Her mother died when was she was very young and it has impacted her ever since. However, her father has slowly gotten on with his life and has remarried to the sometimes cruel Julie, whom Mayfair absolutely despises. She doesn't like to refer to her as her stepmother, but as her father's wife. While her younger stepsister, Allison, tries to get close to her, Mayfair could care less about her.

Mayfair has never been popular with the boys in her school as they all see her as an egghead and the girls make fun of her. Her only friend is Joy, a teen with an eating disorder. However, after getting a slight makeover (makeup and dressing more her age), she begins to get the attention of boys in her class, especially the popular senior Carlton James. What she never expected was to have an older admirer - her teacher Mr. Taylor.

While the book is more of a stand-alone read, the cover art has "The Forbidden" written on it, so I'm guessing this is part of the series that includes The Forbidden Sister, The Forbidden Heart (e-book) and Roxy's Story; though Bittersweet Dreams is not related to those stories. "The Forbidden" is also on the cover for next year's Sage's Eyes.

I received an ARC copy of Bittersweet Dreams back in August, so I'm writing this review off of the uncorrected proof. The book starts out with Mayfair's parents receiving a letter stating that her IQ tests were through the roof and that they recommend that she be put in a private school for the gifted, which upsets her stepmother as the girl had recently gotten into some trouble. From there the novel tells the story of the brief affair between Mayfair and Mr. Taylor. Then the ending flips back to the beginning and finally ties everything nicely together.

The Gothic feeling that was in V.C. Andrews' original novels as well as the early ghost writer installments is now long gone. To me, the first half  felt like a Sweet Valley High book and the last half plays out like a cliched made-for-Lifetime movie. (Ironically, the Flower of the Attic TV-movies aired on Lifetime.) Bittersweet Dreams isn't exactly a bittersweet read. There are multiple problems, such as two dimensional characters, a weak plot and unbelievable dialogue. Is there a V.C. Andrews-like twist? Yes, but you'll figure it out way before it's revealed. Overall, Bittersweet Dreams is an average coming-to-age story that may appeal to some readers, but die-hard V.C. Andrews fans will be disappointed with it. As for the plot, I would give it a 2 out of 5, but thanks to a fast-paced narrative, I'm bumping it up a notch to a 3 out of 5.

*Disclaimer - I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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