Friday, July 7, 2017

Review: I See London, I See France by Sarah Mlynowski

I See London, I See France

Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Publisher: HarperTeen
Series: I See London, I See France #1
Pages: Hardcover, 336 pages
Genre: YA
Release Date: July 11th 2017


I see London, I see France
I see Sydney’s underpants.

Nineteen-year-old Sydney has the perfect summer mapped out. She’s spending the next four and half weeks traveling through Europe with her childhood best friend, Leela. Their plans include Eiffel-Tower selfies, eating cocco gelato, and making out with très hot strangers. Her plans do not include Leela’s cheating ex-boyfriend showing up on the flight to London, falling for the cheating ex-boyfriend’s très hot friend, monitoring her mother’s spiraling mental health via texts, or feeling like the rope in a friendship tug-of-war.

In this hilarious and unforgettable adventure, New York Times bestselling author Sarah Mlynowski tells the story of a girl learning to navigate secret romances, thorny relationships, and the London Tube. As Sydney zigzags through Amsterdam, Switzerland, Italy, and France, she must learn when to hold on, when to keep moving, and when to jump into the Riviera… wearing only her polka dot underpants.


I see London, I see France was extremely well written and it has aspects I totally adored and then there are things I found not so great.
Let me first warn you this is a more mature young adult. They do drink, they do make out and behave like a lot of 19year old do. In fact, I probably would rather call this New Adult. Not that I minded it, it's just that I somehow expected this to be for a younger audience, which is why I mention it.
My biggest issue is a kind of odd on actually. I wanted this to be more cute & fluffy. It was at times way more realistic than I bargained for. It hurt my heart to see Syd in her dilemmas and I was at times rather annoyed with the cast. Yet, on the other hand, I do like Mlynowski added some heavier themes to what would have been possibly something way to fluffy.

The plot is a string of locations, lots of drinking, lots of boy talk, lots of planning and's quite quirky and fast paced on first glance. Under it all lies the theme of Syd and her family problems.
Traveling does change things somewhat for them, it is interesting to see how it does and how they all react to it. One aspect that Mlynoski did masterfully in my opinion.
The end is a bit abrupt. It is open, not in a bad way. But I would have liked more closure for all the character. It seems there will be a second book, though I am not sure about whom it will and if it is about Syd at all. I guess we will have to wait and see. I do want more closure for Jack though.

As someone who has been in all the locations Syd and Leela visit, I found it was clear Mlynowski has done her fair share of backpacking and she has been in Europe. It's funny how certain situations do happen to all of us. LOL. This is not a description of travelers, who go and discover places with fresh eyes... it is a story about backpacking teens and tweens. And in that Mlynowski gets it right. They go in search of adventure, love and with a list of rather cliche things, on a shoestring budget. I can say that because we all did it to some degree in our teens. It's an odd kind of traveling, I think you learn less about where you are and more about who you are. Though traveling does always essentially teach you about yourself. This reminded me why I have no interest in backpacking ever again and why I did so little of it. But I also think everyone should do one trip like it. I am not speaking about the fling or drinking aspect, I mean going out with a friend into the unknown and just discover a completely new place.
A note to the tips at the beginning of the locations. It was a bit oddly formatted in my copy. I am aware that it can still change, I actually do hope it does, because as it is, I found it a bit unclear and very confusing at first. The tips themselves are quite hilarious, they are so firs time tourist. I kinda love it!

I would say this is completely character driven. Mlynowski shines in character building usually. I see London, I see France is no exception.
Did I like the characters? Not really, or not always. Most of them seemed shallow, self-involved and so immature. Then again we talking 19year olds. And if I think back, well I was a bit like that.. a lot immature, a little shallow at times and sadly a bit self-involved as well. ( I hope I am a bit better on all those fronts)
While I liked Syd, her martyr act, annoyed me a lot! And I am aware, that she couldn't help it. I just wanted to smack her. Syd, in my opinion, is the best-written character in the novel, she felt the most real and I honestly feel like I know her, it's like I went traveling with her.
Jack is my favorite character. Though he is still a bit of an enigma. He was always straight with Syd and I am still not happy with the ending he got. I wanted more for him, especially since he did put himself out there on several occasions.
Leela, on the other hand, was my least favorite character. She is beyond self-involved and selfish, though she does redeem herself a bit in the end. Her behavior throughout the book was irritating, more so because I know women like her and I traveled with someone like her. So I guess Mlynowski did a great job at this character.
I liked Kat but I feel like I don't really know her, other than she is nice and she is wealthy.
The same can be said about Matt. He is a bit of an asshat, I kinda don't know anything about him. I feel similar about the rest of the traveling support cast. I think this is in part because Syd actually has no other relationship with them. They have fun together and that's that. Retrospectively I found it a bit odd that we know so little about Kat to be honest.
I did enjoy the dynamic between Syd and her family. It was heavier than I bargained for somehow, but I also think that it is incredibly well done. Mlynowski put it out there, without any judgment, which left me pondering about the situation. I also understand Syd and where she is coming from. While I was reading the book it was not my favorite aspect, yet at the end it definitely is. It added depth and realism and it shed light on a situation, that many of us are unaware of. But mostly I love how Syd has to somehow let go.
The romance was a bit insta, yet very cute. As I said in the beginning, not quite enough of it for me.

An interesting novel, that was more thought provoking that expected. It is well written with a great sense of humor and I am looking forward to the next installment!


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