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ARC Review: Wanderlove

my thoughts in a few sentences: I didn't love Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard as everyone else seemed to, however that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy it. I totally did! I'm not very much into roadtripping type books and there have only been a few successes for me, but this isn't a roadtripping book. It's a travel book, and Kristen Hubbard dazzled me with her beautiful descriptions of the places the main character travels that refrain from feeling overdone; her passion comes through loud and clear. And with the main character's arrival, she brings baggage, so much emotion to the story, and it's so simple to sympathize with her personal hurts. Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard teaches how to rediscover oneself in style, sharing with us the pains and beauty of backpacking across exotic places, even as we witness a slow, torturous romance blossom.

interesting first line: "As soon as I see the blond girl bouncing down the aisle, I know she's heading for the empty seat beside me. "

Rating: Sud-Kissed | Delacorte/Random House • NetGalley • Contemporary • 3/13/12 • $14.49



It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry to this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.
Everyone seems to be raving about Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard, and I just couldn't dig it the same way. However, the story has so much going for it. An insecure main character with a problem believing in herself and just general self-confidence gradually discovers what it means to be herself, and how to appreciate her mistakes in the past rather than be discouraged by them. She learns that events in her life that may seem so huge and difficult and significant are actually meaningless and shouldn't stop her from living the way she wants and enjoys. That sense of empowerment alone was enough to get to me to enjoy Wanderlove, as the story shows us how other people's lives are effected by their choices... or the lack thereof, how much worse some people are forced to live because they have no better opportunities to guide them elsewhere, somewhere more desirable and comfortable.

A coming-of-age story, Bria Sandoval has had a tough time recently, all thanks to her douche bag of an ex-boyfriend and her parents who don't seem to care much about what she loves—art, and in her desperation to prove to everyone—her friends, her nasty ex—that she can go off on her own and be her own person, doing what she wants, doing something spontaneous and exciting all by herself, she embarks on a quest for self-discovery with Latin America as her chosen backdrop. In the beginning, she considers vacationing in Europe, which is something expected, an unsurprising destination choice, so the chance to go off and traipse through Mayan ruins and the jungle, for example, seems like the one bright light in her life, a shimmering opportunity that lures her with the promise of glorious possibilities much the same way a small bug becomes transfixed by the light of a bug zapper. At first, her seemingly thrilling journey appears to be as tragic as the fates of those withering insects caught by the aforementioned zapper, as she is forced along for 'amazing adventure' and 'fantastic exploration' with a bunch of Middle-aged, conservative, and basically unfun touristy types that don't really know the meaning of those words. Thankfully, she is saved by two savvy backpackers mostly willing to invite her along.

Bria grabs the spotlight with her depth, emotions, and growth. I wasn't terribly impressed by the sibling duo of Starling and Rowan, though they are pretty essential to the overall plot. We are barely allowed to get to know Starling, though she is the catalyst that nudges both a reluctant Rowan and a wary Bria into continuing their travels together alone. While we are fascinated by Rowan, his troubled, brooding side balanced by his amazingly insightful outlook on the wanderlove-themed life he leads, we wish to feel more of a connection to him even as he gradually reveals pieces of himself to our lovely protagonist. The romantic spark crackling between them is so blatant, yet it incites so much frustration, and that becomes one of our favorite elements of the book, especially when feelings are exchanged and gifted to one another.

Perhaps it's the plot that doesn't inspire complete and all-consuming love for Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard. It seems slow-going and for those of us who are used to even the tiniest bit of action, the languorous pace and events in the story do not quite invite us to feel excited all the time we're reading the tale. However, Kristen's writing easily makes up for any lulls in the plot. The words flow from her and onto the paper with simple beauty and is far from too elaborate. It's as organically gorgeous as the places she vividly introduces us to.

Overall, Wanderlove by Kristen Hubbard is simply lovely and successfully transports us to places we never dreamed we'd claim the opportunity to visit, giving us wonderful visuals and remarkable storytelling to take away with us as we depart from the story.

21 comments:

Annette said...

I couldn't rave about this one either, althought I agree, the writing and setting was great. I think it's my adult perspective that just couldn't get into the whole setup of the adventure. Great thoughts. I enjoyed your review.

Asher_Knight said...

 Kristen really painted a vivid picture for me, and I liked the setup of adventure as well, but it didn't have that special quality to it that would make me love it. Thanks! :D

Celine said...

Yay! I am so glad you enjoyed this book, Asher! I SO WANT TO READ THIS and I've been hearing great things about this book and your BEAUTIFUL AMAZING AWESOME REVIEW AS ALWAYS makes me want to read it even more and CONVINCED me even more! How I miss reading contemporary books....

Anyway, AWESOME AWESOME REVIEW, Asher! <3 Your review just transported me to places I've never dreamed of! ;)

Asher_Knight said...

 I think you'll probably like this more than I did, but it's definitely inspirational and fun, so that's a major plus. I really enjoyed reading it :D

Giselleco said...

Everyone really adores this one and I regret passing it up on NG. It sounds really sweet and one that just stands out you know. Such a great review Asher you're fabulous!!

Sarah said...

I keep hearing about this book but I'm so picky with contemporary novels that it really has to be ground into me that it's absolutely phenomenal before I even try it (i.e. Perfect Chemistry and Anna and the French Kiss -- both I loved).

So I donno, I'm keeping this one on my radar since I keep seeing stuff about it, but I'm not ready to cave yet! haha Thanks for the great review! :)

Mimi Valentine said...

We must be listening to the same sources because I can't stop hearing about this book too! I'm SO happy that you loved it, Asher!! Even if it didn't completely blow you away like it did with everyone else (although it's SUD-KISSED -- which is a rating that's still crazy-exciting! :D), it still sounds sweet and inspiring and has a boy that's both brooding and insightful, so I think it adds up to a must-read book! ;)

Beautiful review, Asher! You've got me dancing to read this sweet contemp! :) <3

Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

Lovely review, Asher! You make me still want to read this even though it wasn't quite as brilliant as you had thought. I do enjoy action in my books so I'm not sure how I will feel about this one, but everyone seems to have nothing but good things to say about this book so i can't wait to find out for myself. :)

Asher_Knight said...

 I love contemporary reads almost as much as I enjoy paranormal romance. But, I get what you mean. it is pretty exceptional for others and I myself liked it a lot. I'm not sure which category you would fall under.

Asher_Knight said...

 EXACTLY. Sud-Kissed doesn't mean bad. The rating even says that it's highly rereadable, which is true. I enjoyed this one a lot even if I didn't love it like everyone else. I think you'll fall into the love category with this one, Mimi <3

Asher_Knight said...

 Yes, it's absolutely not terrible at all. It's wonderful in the writing and description and places we get to visit, the characters are lovely. It was just the plot that lessened my enjoyment of the book. I just felt like it didn't have enough going on. I hope you like it!

Sonia said...

You have me so excited to read this even if it wasn't a new favourite for you or anything. I LOVE reading about exotic new places (hellooooo Latin America!) and I haven't been too bothered with slower-moving plots in the past. Combined with some great characters -- the MC at least -- and wonderful writing, it should (hopefully) be a hit! Awesome review, Asher :)

Asher_Knight said...

Oh, yes, contemporary romance fans are definitely going to at least enjoy this one. I like contemps and I thought this was a fascinating one, just no a favorite. Hope you enjoy it!

Raimyrawr said...

shame you edidnt enjoy this one but Im kinda glad because I like it when loads of people love a book then theres one or two reviewers who didnt feel the same! im still excited to get to my copy though! 

Brodie said...

My thoughts are much the same as Sonia on this.... you've managed to get me super excited, even if it wasn't a mind-blowing read for you! I tend to not read as many contemporaries as I do other genres, but when I DO read them, I fall in love and wonder why I don't pick them up more often. Plus, I love road trip books! (Saving June, possibly my favourite), so I'm really eager to explore Brie's journey... the physical and the emotional. Though a shame it didn't grab you as much as you'd have liked, I'm still glad to hear you enjoyed it. Amazing review, AS ALWAYS.

Sarah (saz101) said...

" much the same way a small bug becomes transfixed by the light of a bug zapper"

Oh, Asher, you kill me. One day, you are going to write a book. It is going to be brilliant. And I will read it, love it, and by any means necessary, force everyone I know to read it. GO! START WRITING! :D

Aw, my dear, even if you didn't love this as much as you'd have liked, it sounds wonderful in its own ways, nonetheless. I'm really excited to read it, now! FAB review! <3

Asher_Knight said...

*whispers* That's funny, because I like to write. I'm working on one right now :D BUT THANK YOU. You're comments always make me so happy, Sarah.

Yes, it wasn't flawless and perfect but definitely worth the time it took to read :)

Asher_Knight said...

 I like contemporaries a lot, and I admit, I had some high expectations given all the stellar reviews, but I was a bit disappointed. *fist-bumps* Saving June is so amazing. Loved that one. I don't think Brie's journey is as... devastating as Harper's but it does have an impact. <33

Asher_Knight said...

Yes, I tried to feel the same way, but it wasn't happening *LOL*

Sarah (saz101) said...

 ASDLGHJAFSFGH!
Aaaah, Asher, I can't WAIT for a book by you!

Seriously, one of the things that I love most about your reviews is the writing--YOUR writing... you draw these amazing pictures with your words, and you present them in a way that is completely unique to you. Your reviews are never like anyone elses--they're BETTER.

Lynn said...

This book has been sitting on my shelf since half a year ago! The slow pacing is probably why I haven't 'really' read it yet. I did pick it up a few times but always stopped after a few chapters because I wasn't in the right mood for it. But your review made me want to read it right this moment. xD