I lived with my twin brother Luke. And that’s it. We were only seventeen, and it was illegal to be living alone, but no one did anything about it.
Why not?? If you’re as important as you make yourself out to be, and everyone is all up in your business, then shouldn’t’ they know? And if they know, are you telling me that absolutely no one in town cares enough to call child protective services?
I talked about how seventeen is a grey area in most cases in my Twilight reviews. However neglect is quite different from a runaway situation. Luke and Violet are still minors, presumably not emancipated. They’ve been left alone for a long time. They don’t have money for food, to pay the house bills, and they both think they’re too good to get a job. They should be starving. But the book overlooks petty things like logic, and they’re only slightly inconvenienced by their parent’s absence.
Violet and Luke’s parents took the last of the family fortune, blowing it on a trip to Europe to be “artists”. No thought for their children, or the fact that they need to do basic human things eat and bathe.
But I guess they wouldn’t be concerned with that would they? Violet isn’t upset for any of those reasons. She just wants there to be enough money left so she can get out of there and go to college.
I hoped they would come home soon, if for no other reason than I wanted there to be enough money left for me to go to a good university. Someplace pretty, with green lawns, and white columns, and cavernous libraries and professors with elbow patches.
On the one hand, I applaud the pursuit of higher education. On the other, she doesn’t seem to have any real goals. She doesn’t really want to be anything in particular, just to go for the experience, and to feel airy and superior.
Because Violet has to hammer it in that her family is rich. Failing to realize that even though her family used to be affluent, she isn’t. She doesn’t feel like she has to work for anything at all, or realize that the reason her family became rich was because someone at the very beginning worked extremely hard to make that a reality.
Tucholke relies so heavily on stereotypes of the rich you could pretty much replace this guy as our main character, and it would seem canon.
The mansion they live in is called the Citizen Kane, or the Citizen for short. Because screw the film’s actual message, we need to sound pretentious and cultured.
Violet gets the bright idea to rent out the Citizen’s guest house. She makes it a point to say that of course they have a guest house. What do you think they are? Peasants? And goes into its history a bit. She does this exposition quite a bit, whenever we see some new fixture of the manor. Apparently her grandmother used to sponsor artists and house them for months at a time in the guest house.
They would move in for a few months, paint her, and then move on to the next town, the next wealthy person, the next gin bottle.
Artist stereotype? Check.
She advertizes the guest house at an outrageous price. Nobody should really be able to afford it at the price she’s asking for rent, but what the hell, we need a plot.
And lo and behold the plot comes riding in. Riding in on a BMW.
Okay, I don’t know that it’s specifically a BMW, but it seems like something the author would think of as stereotypically wealthy.
Out steps Edward-ahem- our protagonist.
At least he isn’t a complete knock off. He’s got dark hair and dark eyes, and he doesn’t sparkle. Well, not like that.
“It’s kind of a big place for one blonde-haired, book reading girl,” the boy in front of me said, after a long minute of house-looking from the both of us.
The boy who is coming to rent the guest house is their age, and is also too young to be on his own. Violet asks where his parents are and he evades the question. That’s where my alarm bells would start to go off, but nope, she thinks his mysteriousness is hot.
And his name is River. River West. Gah. One of the many idiotic names in this book.
Oh, and she thinks it’s also really cute that he insults her too.
“I saw it on the posters in town, stupid.” River said and smiled. “Guesthouse for rent. See Violet at the Citizen Kane. I asked around and some locals directed me here.”
He didn’t say “stupid” like how Luke said it, blinking at me with narrow eyes and a condescending smile. River said it like it was… an endearment.
How? How is that an endearment?! So the asshole your related to is somehow worse than the one you’re crushing on?
Cause yeah, it’s one of the worst cases of insta-love I’ve seen in YA romance in a long time. Even Bella didn’t fall for Edward as instantaneously as this!
Violet likes River’s crooked smile (cough cough Edward cough cough) and the way he walks.
I watched him swagger, yes swagger, with panther hips, over to the trunk of his car where he pulled out a couple of old fashioned suitcases, the kind with buckles and straps instead of zippers.
Bwhahahaha. Panther hips!
This was the point I stopped taking this whole book seriously. Thirteen pages in and I can no longer take our (panther-hipped) hero seriously.
River pays the outrageous sum easily and has money to spare. She leads him back through the lawn, which has a maze, a court, a greenhouse and more. She says that Freddie somehow kept things up by herself. She worked to keep the house in good shape. As much as Violet idolizes her grandmother you’d think she’d take a lesson and work to keep the house she loves in such good repair. But no, Violet and her parents are insufferable, snooty assholes.
But not us. We did nothing. Nothing but paint. Canvases, that is, not walls or fences or window frames.
Dad said that kind of painting was for Tom Sawyer and other unwashed orphans.
My God. You can literally feel the pretentiousness crawling off the page.
We get two pages of expository dialogue about how the hosue is crumbling, but neither Luke or Violet intend to do anything about it.
Violet tells River she can take the cross out of the guesthouse if it offends him. I’ve gotta say that I thought it might have been because he was a devil (you know, the title hints at that) but alas, he’s not such an interesting monster as all that. It’s just a way to highlight that Violet likes to read a lot, and has picked up some vocabulary words.
“I’m curious. Hence the question.”
I flinched. Hence? My habit of reading more than I socialized made me use odd, awkward words without thinking.
First of all, hence is not an odd awkward word. It’s used in regular conversation more than you’d think. It’s not a particularly impressive word, or one that many people would be confused about. If you wanted to convince me that Violet is impressive you should have worked in the word “confabulate” somewhere.
River says that his parents are archeologists, and we learn he has a brother. River asks about Luke to change the subject, and Violet immediately poisons the well, saying that Luke is not as nice as she is.
She lets the reader in on the fact that Luke went into town to be unseemly.
Luke had walked into Echo after breakfast, intending to track down this girl he knew, and try to grope her in broad daylight at the café where she worked.
Which should get him kicked out, but doesn’t for some reason. Yeah, this only exists to further try to illustrate what an asshole Luke is.
She tells him where he can get groceries in town, and if he would like to put a lock on his door that he can buy one at the hardware store.
He’d better, since Violet makes it pretty clear she’d like to straddle his panther hips.
That’s the end of chapter one. It’s fairly dull, and the characters are being obtuse and/or pretentious. Violet lays the “I’m rich” stuff really thick, and River is creepy from the start. What a pair.
Gratuitous swear words: 3