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Sharks & Boys by Kristen Tracy

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Kristen Tracy’s book Sharks & Boys seems like it should be a harmless, feel good book you can relax with. The cover and description make it out to be a fun romance, but when the book is actually opened, the reader might question whether the cover was lying. It does have some elements of a feel good read: the writing is simple, the characters are straightforward, and the main girl is obsessed with her boyfriend.

Yet this book’s title, description, and cover belie the points that it seems Tracy was trying to make. Her main character, Enid, is dealing with serious issues. She’s got a family falling apart, a failing relationship, and her friends are pulling away. When the action of the book starts, as Enid and her friends are lost at sea, these issues become magnified. Even as calamities befall the group, Enid’s other problems play a main role.

There is nothing wrong with this surprisingly serious plot line. The problem is that Tracy handles the issues with little tact. The plot moves along through inane characters and dialogue that’s almost painful to read. It seems Tracy wanted to keep the book fun and light, so she made her characters simple and one-dimensional. Their actions and words are stereotypical, and unfortunately these are the vehicles of the whole story. Enid is almost the worst of them all. She begins as a paranoid, bossy, and self-obsessed character; her ordeal hardly improves her. It’s said that in romance the characters can’t evolve too much, but there is little to no romance in Sharks & Boys.

The characters in Sharks & Boys are not the right cast for the serious turns of the story. Tracy does an excellent job keeping the teens’ disaster realistic and shocking, but her characters were so un-real that the result was lacking.



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