Saturday, April 19, 2014

Review - Ellie Stanton by Aurora Zahni

Title: Ellie Stanton
Author: Aurora Zahni
Release Date: January 14, 2014
Pages: 166
Goodreads Rating: 4.70 Stars
My Rating: 1.5/5 Stars
My Content Rating: 16+ (Language, Mature situations)

Summary from Goodreads: Book 1 in the Heller Park Series focuses on Ellie Stanton. An imperfect, unremarkable girl makes a hero’s journey. Ellie Stanton needed to have a good day. The universe had something else in store. Getting caught shoplifting. Check. Dumping her lame boyfriend. Check. Expulsion from school. Check. Getting kicked out of her house and then stealing her mother’s car while she’s in a New Jersey turnpike rest stop Cinnabon? Check. The only sensible option is to run as fast as she can and never look back. Now Ellie is running going cross country to raise a little hell and maybe along the way learn everything she needs to know about life.

Okay, this book had me scratching my head a bit.  I was all prepared to love it.  There weren't a ton of reviews, but they were all glowing, and the synopsis sounded like something I would really enjoy.  And then I read it.

It started out okay - I thought that it would surely pick up once Ellie went off on her little road trip, but it just didn't.  And by the time I put the book down, I simply found myself thinking, "What the heck just happened?"

The negatives:
  • The writing.  Zahni could have used a good editor.  The book was told from Ellie's POV, but then we would occasionally randomly be in someone else's head.  There were lots of misused words - "fair" instead of "fare" - things like that.  It was distracting.
  • Slow.  I'm sorry, but I just found myself feeling bored throughout most of this book.  I kept waiting for something amazing to happen while Ellie was on her trip, but nothing ever did.  She met a few odd people and had odd conversations with them and then kept in touch with all of them (because, of course, every random person she had a conversation with felt the need to give her their phone number).  She took a bus.  And a train.  There was one frightening scene that was interesting, but that was it.  Even the most exciting event of her trip was turned into a pretty much glossed over moment that left me disappointed.  Now I know that the book was really supposed to be all about Ellie's inner journey, but I just didn't see how the events going on around her were leading to any sort of personal growth.  I don't know.  I just didn't get it.
  • Ellie.  Ellie was annoying and juvenile and just really kind of a mean person, in my opinion.  She knows it, but she says she loves herself anyway.  So, that's all good, right?  She treats her poor boyfriend like a piece of garbage. She realizes this and feels kind of guilty about it - even breaks up with him a bunch of times, but he's SO in love with her that he can't let go and gets her back.  Why is he in love with her?  I have no idea.  He had to be one of the most pathetic boyfriends ever in the history of fiction and I felt absolutely horrible for him.  I won't say what eventually happens with him, but I will say that it doesn't make me feel much better.  So, back to Ellie.  She likes to stir up trouble, so she does.  Except, apparently, on trips when she suddenly becomes the kind of person that everyone wants to be friends with.  Of course, Ellie has a horrible mother, so she's got a good excuse for being a jerk.  Or that's what we're meant to believe.  I just wasn't buying it.
  • The epilogue.  After I read the epilogue to this book, I felt like I had just watched an episode of The Twilight Zone.  I swear it was the epilogue to a completely different book and the author just accidentally tacked this epilogue on.  I think it was supposed to make me excited for the next book so that I could figure out how in the heck Ellie and Hilary got themselves into this crazy situation, but it just felt so random and strange that I couldn't get there.  I think I'll pass on that next book.
What I enjoyed:
  • Hilary.  Ellie's best friend Hilary was the one character in this book who I really liked.  She loved and understood Ellie, but didn't let her get away with too much.  She was the one positive influence on Ellie's life and I really think that Hilary was the key to Ellie's transformation more than her trip was.  Hilary had kind of "been there, done that," so she knew what Ellie was going through and really wanted to do everything she could to help her.  
  • Ellie's character growth.  Okay, by the end of the book, it really did seem like Ellie had grown as a person and she was actually a mostly likable character.  I just didn't really see the reasons for her transformation the way I would have liked and so I couldn't get completely on board.
Maybe this book just wasn't for me.  Others seemed to really like it, so it's possible that it was just missing some key ingredient for me that would have made it work.  I don't know, but I just wasn't feeling it.  1.5/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***

Want some other opinions?  Check out what these other people thought of this book:

The Book Beacon - 4 Stars
Booked by Books - 4 Stars
It's a Book Thing - 3 Stars
Sleeps on Tables - 3 Stars


  1. I'm always a little bummed when a book with such great reviews ends up being "blah" for me. Sorry it was a lame read for you.

  2. Pass. I hate it when I'm continually distracted by grammar/spelling issues, and an annoying, juveniles, and mean MC . . . NO thank you. Thanks for the honest review ;)

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads