Teardrop was so obviously not for me that I considered just not reviewing it and, if I was merely apathetic about it, I probably would have let it go at that. Unfortunately I have such strong feelings about this book that I just have to review it properly. Well, I say ‘properly,’ but I probably actually mean ‘angrily.’
This isn’t going to go well.
Plot summary: Never, ever cry… Eureka Boudreaux’s mother drilled that rule into her daughter years ago. But now her mother is gone, and everywhere Eureka goes he is there: Ander, the tall, pale blond boy who seems to know things he shouldn’t, who tells Eureka she is in grave danger, who comes closer to making her cry than anyone has before.
But Ander doesn’t know Eureka’s darkest secret: ever since her mother drowned in a freak accident, Eureka wishes she were dead, too. She has little left that she cares about, just her oldest friend, Brooks, and a strange inheritance – a locket, a letter, a mysterious stone, and an ancient book no one understands. The book contains a haunting tale about a girl who got her heart broken and cried an entire continent into the sea. Eureka is about to discover that the ancient tale is more than a story, that Ander might be telling the truth… and that her life has far darker undercurrents than she ever imagined.
Genuinely and completely non-sarcastically (but just wait), it sounded like an interesting premise. Mysterious boy and dead mother clichés aside, I picked it up for the unique premise of the underwater mythology mixed with a girl who couldn’t cry for fear of Bad Things happening. Great, awesome!
Except not. It’s so achingly, mind-numbingly domestic. The actual magic-y aspects don’t really form an integral part of the story until at least three quarters of the way through, and that’s a generous estimate. It’s hinted at, sure, but it’s mostly the old male friend and the new sultry boy beating their chests at each other, to Eureka’s natural
delight disdain. I had zero interest. If I wanted to read about a teenage protagonist who had to choose between two equally terrible men, I could wander into Waterstones and pick up almost any book in the Teen section. It’s just so over-done now.
The prologue doesn’t help in that respect. I rant about prologues and epilogues so much that I’m not going to bang my head against that wall anymore today, but this prologue is kind of self-defeating. It tells you the end of the story! Because of this, I began the story already knowing who Ander is, why Eureka’s mother died and why people are chasing her. Oops, there goes the mystery!
Eureka herself has to be the worst fictional character I have ever come across. I know her Mum has just died and I’m very sorry about that. But please, dear God, stop talking about it. She’s unbelievably melodramatic – more so than Sloane in This Is Not A Test, and she tried to sacrifice herself to a zombie horde. She can’t be in the school group photo because OMG MY MOM DIED and ‘You know I don’t like boys since MY MOM DIED. God, you are SO INSENSITIVE.’ Also, it is not a ‘death sentence’ to sit at a lunch table with people. I hated this. Hated. I was so angry at it that I actually had to keep putting it down before it ruined my mood for the day.
Eureka felt tricked. A yearbook picture hadn’t been part of her deal with Coach. She saw the photographer, a man in his fifties with a short black ponytail, setting up a massive flash apparatus. She imagined huddling into one of the lines alongside these other kids, the bright light going off in her face. She imagined the photo being printed into three hundred yearbooks, imagined future generations flipping the pages. Before the accident, Eureka never thought twice about posing for the camera; her face contorted into smiles, smirks, and air kisses all over friends’ Facebook and Instagram pages. But now?
The permanence this single photo would imply made Eureka feel like an imposter. She imagined the lie of her high school resume – Latin Club, cross-country team, a list of honors classes. Survivor’s guilt, the one extracurricular activity Eureka was interested in, was nowhere to be found. She stiffened so it wouldn’t be obvious she was shaking.
It’s bearable for two paragraphs, right? Well, almost. Now imagine 400 pages of that.
The other characters are fairly generic – boy-crazy but dependable best-friend, horrible step-mother (who actually seems like a fairly reasonable person), clueless father…. etc. Except we have to stop every time somebody new is introduced so we can be told what they look like and where they live in excruciating detail. It’s not quite as bad as ‘the main character looked in the mirror and saw XYZ looking back at her,’ but it’s close.
The writing itself is lazy. There are lots of instances where Eureka ‘can’t explain how she knew’ and doing odd things ‘by instinct,’ presumably because the writing is too lazy to explain a character’s action with a logical reason. And obviously Eureka can randomly understand some obscure iconography because she went with her mother to a xylography class at some point. That’s lucky. And lazy.
My feelings about Teardrop are probably pretty clear by this point. I think I’m so annoyed because it could have been great – there’s a unique premise that I’ve never seen even touched upon before, but unfortunately that wasn’t where the focal point of the book seemed to be. Too much melodrama about silly things and too much shoddy writing. I don’t think I’ll be trying Lauren Kate again.