Review - Now and Forever - Susane Colosanti

Now and ForeverTitle: Now & Forever
Series: N/A
Author: Susane Colasanti 
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publication: May 20th 2014 by Viking Juvenile
Pages: 273 Pages, Hardcover
Source: Thank you to Penguin Books South Africa for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 3/5 Cupcakes!
What if your boyfriend was the world's biggest rockstar?
Sterling is crazy in love with Ethan. Not only is he the sweetest boy she's ever met, but he's an incredibly talented guitarist, singer, and songwriter. And since forever, he's believed he has what it takes to be a star.
When Ethan becomes an overnight sensation, he's thrown head-first into the glam world of celebrity-and so is Sterling. Before she knows it, she's attending red-carpet premieres, getting free designer clothes, and flying around the country to attend Ethan's monumental sold-out concerts.
It's a dream come true...but whose dream is Sterling living? And what do you do when "forever" comes to an end?
This will be a long review with a lot of quotes and ranting and GIFs. A lot.

When I saw this book was available to request, I immediately jumped at the chance to review it because I like contemporary books with romance and music and people who become internationally recognised. It was right up my alley.

And then I started reading it.

The writing style infuriated me and the characters weren't my favorite and I felt somewhat...let down. I was ecstatic to read this book and it didn't live up to my heightened expectations. To be completely honest, the whole premise of the book was the only thing that kept me reading. However, once I hit the 100 page mark I started liking the narrator slightly more and really enjoying the story and becoming immersed in the world, with only a couple of face-palms, which was a vast improvement. My dislike for the book did lessen as I read more and although I didn't love it, I eventually thoroughly enjoyed the story and was even slightly sad when it ended. 

Now & Forever is about Sterling and her boyfriend, Ethan. Sterling loves baking and has a fetish with correcting typos and Ethan is a senior with a love of music, trying to get his name out there. A couple of months after they begin dating, Ethan is signed by a record company and quickly becomes internationally known for his music. At first, Sterling is fine with it, she's super proud of Ethan and, shamelessly, admits that she loves the attention. However, as Ethan's fame grows by the day and she starts being pushed aside, she starts realising that she's not living her own life and her whole world is focused on Ethan and she intends to do something about that. 

Like I said, I LOVE the whole premise of the story. I must say, I'm a sucker for books featured on people who become famous and world-renowned musicians and how they have to adjust to that lifestyle. When I was tempted to throw the book at a wall in my frustration, the only thing that kept it in my hands was the story line that I was hoping wouldn't let me down, although there were plenty of things that irked me endlessly about this book. I must say, my initial feelings of dislike have decreased and I did, eventually, come to like Sterling and adjust to the writing style. Mostly. 

The first thing that made me strongly dislike this book was the writing style. I initially found it extremely difficult to connect with the characters and the whole book and even towards the end the disjointed, halting writing style. If the writing style flowed in a effortless manner this book would've been so much better and would've felt so much more authentic! The sentences were so short and simple, I wish she had incorporated some compound sentences into the book to make the whole atmosphere of the book better. Some of the sentences really, really irked me. For example: 
"She gestures at the bed's control panel. This means she wants me to raise the bed so she can sit up. When we get the bed the way she wants, she looks at the gift bag. 'You shouldn't have spent your money on me,' she says. She says this about everything. Even if you give her a paper clip, she will insist she is unworthy.'"
"Gram hates being like this. She doesn't like having to rely on anyone to take care of her. Taking care of people is her thing. She's been a strong, independent woman her whole life."
"Ethan knew he was going to be famous when he was six. That's when he started taking guitar and voice lessons. He told me about that day he was at a guitar lesson. He was strumming a new chord when he suddenly knew he was meant for insane. He was to young to understand the scope of his epiphany, but he knew in his heart what it meant. His fate was undeniable. He was six."
Those are examples, taken from the book, to show how the majority of the sentences are. I strongly dislike very short sentences in books as it slows the pacing of the book down and it makes it harder to become fully invested. Everything in this book was told and nothing was shown, that was also another thing I disliked about it. We are told everything and we weren't shown how the characters were feeling, at times it was like reading a book written by someone of quite a young age, and that was really disappointing.

There was also unnecessary information and too much information, at times it felt like I was reading a fact file on the characters and not actually being able to become acquainted with them. To give you an example, Sterling feels the need to tell us about Ethan's new dieting and exercising schedule, which I didn't care about as I wasn't invested in the story yet:
"He's been doing five small meals a day. He has to have carbs an hour and a half before cardio for energy. He has to do a protein shake twenty minutes after lifting, to help build muscle mass."
I wanted to yell at Sterling that I REALLY DON'T CARE about what he eats or how often he exercises. Perhaps if it was Will Herondale or Tobias, then yes, because I actually feel connected to them and as if they are real people. I didn't care enough about Ethan to want to know every single aspect of his life. There was quite a lot of unnecessary detail in here that wasn't needed. 

 The writing did make the book seem quite impersonal and it really frustrated me as they were characters I wanted to know, I wanted to experience this journey with them and feel the excitement and the nervousness and the amazement alongside the characters, not just be told everything about them straight up, I wanted to read the book and page by page discover their little quirks and not be told everything in one go. The characters' full personalities should be an enigma that is slowly pieced together throughout the book, not shoved at us. 

Another aspect of the writing that I had a problem with was the dialogue. It was so flat and toneless, even when I thought a character was joking, I wasn't entirely sure if they actually were or not. It seemed forced, staccato and unnatural and one of my must-haves when I read a book is that there must be some kind of witty banter involved. Here is an example from when Sterling was talking to her best friend on the first day that they met:
"'Did your mom make those?" I asked.
'No, I did. I love to bake.'
'So do I!'
'That's so cool. How did you get into cooking?'
'My mom can't cook. I took over the kitchen when I was twelve. I even take cooking classes.'"
Perhaps it's just me, but I found those few sentences very tedious to read. They were sixteen or seventeen at the time and it sounded like a conversation between elementary-aged children, not high-schoolers. Once again, the sentences are very short and it makes the dialogue seem quite awkward.
"'I know!' I yell back. 'This is awesome!' Marissa and Georgia say hey."
"'They're from my mom,' he says.
Georgia and I are like, 'Awww!' We adore how supportive Mrs. Cross is." 
"Scary Security Guard is on the girl in a flash. 'Do not test me today!' SSG booms. 'If you do not step back, you will be dealing with an angrier version of me. You do not want to be dealing with an angrier version of me.'" 

I'm not sure what it exactly is about these sentences but I don't like them. There could've been more description and more showing instead of just randomly pointing out that her friends greeted each other. The second example also seems quite juvenile and something that I would find generally written by beginner writers. The actions seem quite false sometimes and not fully fleshed out and I think that also affected how I felt during the beginning of the book.

There was also some slang that irked me slightly and there were a LOT of repetitive phases. Examples:
"'Thanks. But we can do better. I'm thinking of asking Marisa to take pictures at the at the next show.'"You should. Her pics are mad profesh. She could seriously sell them.'"
People don't talk like this, it felt very unnatural and all the dialogue seems like the characters are emotionally disinterested in life.

There were things that were constantly repeated and it made those parts quite frustrating to read. For an instance, there were several times that she said stuff like "Melting. Into. My chair." And "Melting. In. The foyer." And "Melting. In. The bed." And I wanted to scream ENOUGH WITH MELTING ON OBJECTS ALREADY! I could've handled it if it only happened once but every time Ethan said something "cute" she'd figuratively melt.

Another thing that was repeated a lot was the phrase "Before Ethan blew up" and "After Ethan blew up" and "'Why are you blowing up my phone?" That phrase was used to often it made me want to claw my eyes out.

The characters took me a while to warm up to, and when I did, the only one I fully warmed up to was Sterling and, slightly, Damien. As I promise to review books completely honestly, I must be in honest in saying that I really didn't like or connect with Sterling in the beginning, and a lot of the things she did irritated me. She had (what I assumed should've been enduring) quirks about her that I think the author thought would make us feel more connected to her, but what, eventually, made me feel quite annoyed with her. We know she loves cooking and she is obsessed with correcting typos, but she came off quite obnoxious about it and worriedly obsessed with one's typing errors. I could relate to her on that level as I am forever correcting my friends' grammar, but I don't become so obsessed with it that it ruins my day if I see someone's grammatical error. Example being:

"I point at the most depressing comment on the 'Night on Fire' video:
awesome u look so hottt ur my fave musisan I wnt 2 met u on day lv jen age 11
'Does anyone know how to spell anymore?' Georgia says.
'It's a dwindling skill. Beyond depressing. It should not be hard for people to spell words correctly. Hot with three Ts? How pathetic is it when misspelled words are actually longer than the correct spelling?'
'Maybe this generation is a group of aliens who've come to Earth to abduct our intelligence.'
'Wouldn't it be hilarious if I could edit Ethan's comments? These fangirls wouldn't even know how to read them.'"

I will admit that I did some severe eye-rolling during this part. Firstly, I hate how Sterling comes across as extremely obnoxious during this section and puts fangirls down. Not all of us spell in such a horrific fashion and I hate that her character generalises to such extremes. Also, the person who commented said she was eleven, I'm pretty sure at eleven I also abbreviated words and added extra letters to express my opinion, heck, sometimes I still do it. Sometimes extra letters are needed to convey just how strongly we think of something. Sterling also goes on and on and on about correct grammar and spelling where, before a year ago, she didn't care at all about her education, so you think that would make her less judgmental. Aside from all that, I eventually grew to like Sterling and I felt sorry for her when her and Ethan began to grow apart and she never saw him anymore. I was also proud of her that she didn't stand for his nonsense towards the end and she decided to do what was best for her. I thought it was going to end with her taking him back after he'd done something bad, as I've read several books before where that idea has featured. I'm not exactly sure what I eventually liked about Sterling, perhaps I appreciated her self-confidence and her ability to stand up for herself, but I eventually grew used to her voice and found her character more appealing. Her character also became more in-depth and we began to see the less glamorous side of being a rockstar's girlfriend and the insecurities and anxiety that surrounds it. Her fears were understandable and I could understand why she began to doubt her appearance and her style and began to wonder if she was good enough, and I could imagine how horrible she must've felt.

Like I said, Sterling was my favourite character in this book, the others were quite one-dimensional and didn't really have much going for them. I wasn't keen on Sterling's friend Georgia  and she acted extremely juvenile sometimes. When people asked Sterling about Ethan, she got all huffy and when Sterling asked her what was wrong she said nothing and then accused Sterling of never asking her how she is. The put down others for their spelling but then they go act incredibly childish, their characters weren't very consistent. Georgia was also obsessed with plants, which I couldn't really relate to. When one of her plants got attacked by bugs, she held a funeral for it, that scene could have been really quirky and funny, if the writing style wasn't so halted.

Another character we were introduced to was Damien, one of Ethan's roadies. When he was introduced I know there was going to be some sort of love triangle between him, Sterling and Ethan. It's a pity he didn't feature more in the book, as I think I could've actually liked him, but we rarely saw him. He was extremely sweet, supportive and quite philosophical, but the dialogue was, again, written in an awkward manner and I think that's why I didn't really connect to him. I was also disappointed that he didn't feature more in the book, as he really needed to.

Then we have Ethan. From the beginning I knew Ethan was going to change and that was he going to become full of himself. I never really warmed up to Ethan, I never hated him but I wasn't falling in love with him either. I also found his personality wasn't consistent, other times he was acting like such a jerk to Sterling and then he was acting all nice and in love with her and I felt that it didn't really add up. Ethan did something really horrible which I think was actually quite predictable, but I felt really bad for Sterling that Ethan had gone and changed when she thought he never would.  Ethan changed a lot and it happened quickly and I know how terrible Sterling must've felt as it sucks when people we love change until they're nearly unrecognisable.

I also found his character slightly out of place during this one point. He was acting very "manly" and then he acted like a teenage girl and I also found that quite inconsistent. Example:
"We look at each other for a minute. Then we bust out screaming. We're jumping up and down and laughing and hugging each other."
Guys don't generally scream and jump up and down when they're excited about something, that's more a girl thing.

The romance was very cheesy and cliché and most scenes that involved romance had me rolling my eyes. I got tired of Sterling's admiration for Ethan and how she would ignore blatant truths because she was so biased, but I suppose being in love does that to people. I like how supportive she was and always there for him and I felt for her that he didn't reciprocate. As I said previously he would be really sentimental and then act like a total jerk, and I couldn't quite suss out his total character. The romance was really...too sweet and I did get slightly annoyed with how Sterling used to go on and on and on about him.
"'We knew this day would come. You knew it right along with me.' There are tears in his eyes. 'Thank you for believing in me as much as I believe in myself.' 'Of course. You're destined for greatness.'"
"'You look...' He comes over to me. 'You're the most beautiful girl I've ever seen.' The way Ethan's looking at me, I can tell he really means it. There are tears in his eyes."

Like I said, the only thing that made me keep reading was the storyline and Sterling, because I eventually liked her voice and despite the writing style, cheesy romance and quite flat characters, it did have something about it that made me interested to know how it ends. The first 80 pages I didn't like, but I enjoyed most of the rest of the book and I did care enough about Sterling (eventually) to read on and finish this book. It did have an important theme of being yourself and about doing things that make you happy. If you like writing that flows very well and a quite in depth book, then this book probably won't appeal to you, but if you're in the mood for a fluffy book that doesn't require much thinking, you might enjoy it. This book wasn't terrible, it was average and I really liked the premise, although there were several things that spoiled it.

I give it: 3/5 Cupcakes