Prohibido creer en historias de amor, by Javier Ruescas

36691791English translation: Forbidden to believe in love stories

“I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere. My family is wonderful and I love them very much, but sometimes I feel like they don’t know who I am.”

At 17, Cali belongs to a very unconventional family. Her parents record their everyday domestic life in videos they post on the Internet. Her siblings have their own channels with millions of followers, and her boyfriend is the country’s most popular YouTuber. Obsessed by popularity, no one in Cali’s life seems interested in the changes she’s experiencing inside, smack in the middle of adolescence.

Then she meets Hector, a mysterious street musician who plays the same song on the Metro every day. It’s the only thing he remembers from his childhood. He plays his song hoping that someone will recognise it and tell him where it comes from. In Hector, Cali unexpectedly finds someone who seems to understand her, as if they’d always known each other. By helping him find his origins, Cali will discover what she herself is made of. (from here)

I got the chance to read this one thanks to Edición Anticipada. Very few of them were given away for a review, and I was lucky enough to open their notification email just as I got it.

Javier Ruescas is one of the spoiled childs of the Young Adult genre in Spanish. Since his first book came out in 2009, he published 18 more, Prohibido… being the last one, which came out a couple of months ago.

I hadn’t read anything from Ruescas before, but I was aware of all the prattle about his work, so I gave in to it and requested the book.

The plot was predictable, as it followed what I think are very classic formulas and tropes of romantic stories: girl has a life that many dream of but girl is not happy with her life and nobody gets her feelings, but she can’t talk about them because she doesn’t want to hurt other people’s feelings, girl meets mysterious boy with a tragic past, mysterious boy annoys girl and, at first, girl can’t stand him but then girl bonds with him and eventually they fall in love and “solve” mysterious boy tragic past. In the meantime, girl finds an outlet for her frustration and improves her life. Add friends, family and whatnot. But, probably because it seizes all these overused and well known ingredients, ends up with a result that is not at all unpleasing.

The novel makes a lot of use of the “social media culture” (if there’s such a term), particularly that of YouTube, something the author himself is very familiar with. While it probably has a lot of resonance to the targeted audience, it does make me wonder how will the story age overtime.

In the end, to me it was like any generic rom-com: it was ok to fill a Sunday afternoon, absentmindedly, but I might won’t remember a thing of it at the end of the year.

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El último secreto de Eva Braun, by Enrique Amarante

38321143English translation: Eva Braun’s last secret

I read this book as part of Edición Anticipada’s program. These are books under Penguin Random House (in Spanish, I have no idea if they have something similar for other languages) that are offered to readers as an early edition to review. In this case, this was an ebook (I don’t think they do physical books anymore, despite what they say in their website).

The story goes about an ultra-secret plan, near the end of WW2, to bring Hitler to Argentina and launch the IV Reich from here. In this book, the whole suicide event is faked, and Hitler managed to escape in a submarine to the south Atlantic. I don’t know if you ever heard these kind of conspiracy theories, but they are familiar here, considering how many nazis actually managed to escape and perfectly blend in our society.

To be honest, I didn’t like this book, so I’m not very eager to talk about it. I asked it because I’m trying to get a little out of my comfort zone in my readings, and WW2 was never even close to that. I guess it is the pinnacle of my discomfort, dislike, uninterested zone. I actually had zero expectations and I began reading it with an open mind, but very soon I regret all my life choices. I really cannot say if I didn’t like the book because the subject was definitely not my cup of tea, or because I didn’t like the story itself.

Some of the things that were discouraging along the book were:

  • the gratuitous sex scenes that add absolutely nothing to the development of the story and that I found quite hard to believe could actually happen? I don’t know, I was never a spy, but really?;
  • the lack of interesting and believable female characters: I guess you could expect that in a book set in a military environment in those years, there weren’t too many women around, but the ones that appear here seemed to be all merely sexy decorations or femme fatales. I understand that it happens in the 40s and was a very different time, but ugh, so boring to read. These kind of things make me think this book is targeted exclusively to male readers, and even when that’s understandable, still, some women might have an interest in WW2, right?;
  • this is merely a formality, but at some point the notes lose correlativity and, considering that they’re at the end of the book and not at the end of the page, it made the whole reading process even more annoying.

There were so many other irritating things but, why would I keep complaining?