Book of the Week: Adventures in Funeral Crashing by Milda Harris

Let me preface this by sharing an idea  from yesterday’s post that I think bears repeating:

Reading is incredibly subjective.

There. I feel a bit better.

I do, however, feel the need to say that the opinions expressed in this review are my own, and my taste in books (or food or fashion or anything else, really) is just mine. So, take whatever I say in this post with a grain of salt, and if you happen to disagree, well, I’m all for open dialogue.

(Can you tell I’m not looking forward to this review?)

The book I chose for the week is Adventures in Funeral Crashing by Milda Harris. It has a Copyright date of 2010 and was self-published through Smashwords. It was a free book for my Kindle when I picked it up a few months ago (and it looks like it still is).

Adventures in Funeral Crashing by Milda Harris

I chose a self-pubbed book because I think they are just as relevant to the landscape as traditionally published books, and I will likely keep them in the mix of books that I review. After all, no one browses on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, looks at a book summary and says, “Hmm, this seems like a really good premise, but it’s self-published so I don’t think I’m going to buy it.” Quite the contrary. I firmly believe that if it’s a great story, it doesn’t matter how it got to the shelves, be they physical or digital.

And this is how I found Adventures in Funeral Crashing. I happened to stumble upon it while scrolling on Amazon.

Here’s the premise (directly from Amazon):

Sixteen year old Kait Lenox has a reputation as the weird girl in her high school, mostly because of her ex-best friend turned mean popular girl, Ariel, but maybe it has a little to do with the fact that Kait has a hobby crashing funerals. At one of these, Kait is outted by the most popular guy in school, Ethan Ripley. Yet, instead of humiliating her for all the world to see, he asks for her help, and Kait finds herself entangled in a murder mystery. Not only is the thrill of the mystery exciting, but more importantly Ethan knows her name! A little sleuthing is well worth that!

Interesting, right? And it was a free book, so my only investment would be time.

[sigh]

I wanted to love this book. I really truly wanted to love it. Or at least like it. And I picked it up with every expectation that I would not only finish it, I would devour it like I do so many books.

First, I love the title. It’s great! It’s a little bit dark, it’s quirky, and it sets the stage perfectly for a fun read. Once I cracked open the book booted up my Kindle to the first page and began reading, I was excited. Kait’s voice is funny and snarky and quirky and sweet, and I just liked her.

But then Ethan showed up, and everything I liked about Kait just kind of *poof!* went out the window.

When Ethan isn’t around, Kait is cool, strong, sure of herself. I mean, she makes it a point to remind us (several times) that even though her ex-bestie Ariel has turned into a total witch monster (my words, not Harris’s), she keeps her head down and refuses to let people know that Ariel’s taunts and rumors  bother her. So why should it matter so much what Ethan thinks of her? (Fine, he’s cute. But there’s more to a great guy than his looks and his social standing.)

As much as I loved Kait’s voice and liked her inner monologues, there was just so much of it. Moreover, it was so repetitive. Yes, I get it: She thinks Ethan is hot. And yes, I understand: The peanut butter banana smoothies at Wired are awesome. (Harris mentioned them five times in the first ten chapters and 14 times in the entire book. Senor Kindle counted for me.)

Harris employs great chapter transitions, though, which successfully kept me turning the pages until about Chapter 8, but by then, my interest started to wane. Even with a murderer on the loose and Really Hot Guy suddenly paying all kinds of attention to her, I wasn’t motivated to keep reading. I pressed on, only because I hate to leave books in the Did Not Finish pile, but by the middle of Chapter 10, I was dreading picking up the book again.

That’s how I knew it would be best if I didn’t finish it.

Here’s the thing…. I love to read. I love getting caught up in characters’ lives to the point that fiction and reality start to blur. I’m the kind of reader who finishes a book and is suddenly sad because the story has ended.

I didn’t feel that with Adventures in Funeral Crashing.

Yes, there’s a mystery. And yes, there’s that question of whether or not she’ll hook up with Ethan – and if when she does (because it’s kind of a given that she will), how will the rest of the school react? But I got as far as the middle of Chapter 10 and decided (a) I don’t care who did it, why they did it, or how they did it, and (b) I really don’t care what happens with Ethan, mainly because I’m not as smitten with him as Kait is.

So, it’s with a heavy heart that I award this review a DNF badge, as I didn’t finish it.

It’s gotten some good reviews on Goodreads (3.7 stars from 249 ratings), though, and some folks at Amazon seem to like it a whole lot (4.2 out of 5 stars with 50 ratings is nothing to sneeze at).

I’m just not among them.

(If you read Adventures in Funeral Crashing and felt differently about it, please let me know! Likewise, if you think The Grapes of Wrath is one of the greatest American literary works of the 20th century, please let me know that, too!)

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