Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publication Date: June 12, 2018 by Amulet Books
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Source: Publisher via Netgalley
The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he's suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.
At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Final Draft was one of my most anticipated books of the year because Redgate’s previous work has been fantastic. Unfortunately this story lacked substance, and didn’t live up to the greatness of her previous novels.
I loved the representation in here. Redgate always writes diverse characters seamlessly without it being in your face “I’m a diverse character”. Laila is a plus size, pansexual, multiracial woman. Like most individuals who are multiracial, she struggles with fitting in anywhere because she’s not “enough” of one group or the other.
“Laila couldn’t shake the suspicion that she didn’t count in some fundamental way, that her looks were enough to distance herself from her white half but not nearly enough to make her belong with her Latin half.”
I did really like Laila as a character, I understood why she felt like she didn’t fit in anywhere because of her race, and I enjoyed how much she loves writing. There were also funny parts dispersed through the book about her Catholic guilt. Every time she brought it up I wanted to laugh because it’s A REAL THING. I PROMISE.
Laila feels very realistic, Redgate does a good job of creating realistic characters. Unfortunately in this book, the only fleshed out character is Laila, everyone else feels very one dimensional and unfinished, even the love interest.
Not only did most of the characters feel one dimensional, but the whole novel felt superficial and surface level. There’s not much background or depth to any of Laila’s friends or family, and they only appear on the page when it’s convenient. Laila went through many struggles in the book, and even lost someone close to her, but because of the writing, I wasn’t as affected by her struggles as I could have been.
I love that Laila loves writing, and was working diligently on her work, and never thought it was good enough, I felt that the story was inundated with the other worlds – of her work and the scifi show her and her friends are obsessed with. There were too many random scenes from one of these worlds thrown into the middle of the story with no warning, that it was jarring and took me out of the story.
“Guess I’ve got this image […] that these stories are already out there, like these perfect little islands floating around, and I keep trying to rope them in, but I keep getting these mediocre versions that only even passingly look like what I want. So I’ve got to spend all my time out there casting nets, because it I spend too much time away from that universe, I’ll go and forget how it feels in there, and i’ll get farther and farther away from those perfect versions os what I’m trying to do.”
Overall I thought this novel felt more like a draft, like it hadn’t been fleshed out enough. I felt that there were too many random events or scenes thrown in that didn’t connect well to the rest of the story.
Even though I don’t think this is Redgate’s best work, I still enjoy her writing and can’t wait to see what she writes next!