Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Book Review: Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys

Title Megan Meade's Guide to the McGowan Boys
Author Kate Brian
Genre YA Commercial Fiction
Rating B

Summary Army brat Megan Meade's parents are being shipped to South Korea, but Megan doesn't want to go. When her parents drop the bomb that she can move in with their old family friends, the McGowans (and their seven sons), she thinks that maybe she's made the wrong decision. Is South Korea so bad? Because living with the seven McGowan boys is pretty bad... but it can also be pretty good.

First Line "'Megan, we need to talk.'"

Review I'm not going to beat around the bush: this book made me cry. And not in a bad way. In a totally awesome way.

Megan was a truly believable character. At first she's shy around the boys and afraid to stand up for herself. I totally got that. Which is probably why when Megan feels totally alone, surrounded by a family of boys who hate her guts, she longs for her parents. Sure, South Korea is far away, but at least she'd get to be with people she loved, right? Dude, I cried hard. Never fear though, she eventually grows (as all good protagonists do).

Megan wasn't the only character I "got." The majority of her brothers were sufficiently complex and cool (the two youngest ones weren't in it enough for me to remember how to tell them apart except that I knew they weren't teenagers). They were all very, very believable and interesting to read about and try to understand, and at times I totally got Megan's problem. Guys are hard to read.

There were a couple of character problems that lowered my grading of this book. One: her friends--they kind of ran together, and Brian might have been smarter to cut a character out to make this a stronger piece in her story. Two: the McGowan parents--they are written as both involved/caring parents and clueless parents who have no idea their sons are terrorizing Megan. Not really believable. Additionally, at the climax of the book, when Megan drops a huge bombshell on them, they respond in a way that's incongruous of smart parents--they let her make a crazy decision without trying to talk it out and/or even inform the McGowan boys of her decision. Weird. Very weird.

Related to that, I had a plot problem that bothered me (and lowered the grade). The resolution isn't really a resolution. I mean, sure everything gets resolved, but you just have to assume that because Megan goes back to loving life. But how does that happen? We only see her talking with a couple of the McGowan boys--not even the one that she develops the deepest relationship with--and we're left to wonder how that all got smoothed out.

Another minor draw-back to this book was its cover, the styling is completely outdated and the boys were supposed to be "so cool," but the clothes were kind of lame for 2009 (only on the cover, her descriptions in the book weren't as specific, so they didn't get dated). Granted, the book was published in 2005, but Brian's Private Series is hugely popular, so you'd think that her publisher could be bothered to update the cover of her backlist title as well (or edit this one to use more non-descript imagery like their cover of her book The Virginity Club).

Recommendation Fans of YA books about girl-meets-boy (or seven boys) and the conflicts between the sexes will enjoy this book. I'm even recommending to myself that I go out and buy more of Brian's books (even though I've always thought the rest had really cheesy hooks and avoided them like the Black Plague).

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