Author: Alyson Noel
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Year Published: Laguna Cove: 2006; Cruel Summer: 2008
Pages: Laguna Cove: 216; Cruel Summer: 229
Thanks for Mbak A.S. Dewi for giving me this book. Much kiss!!
This book contains 2 stories from 2 different books. Since the stories are not related one another, I'm gonna write separate reviews, starting from Laguna Cove.
Anne had to move from New York to Laguna Beach, California, to live with her super-busy Hollywood Producer dad, after her parents decided to get divorced. Being totally clueless and alone, since she had never met her dad since her arrival and she knew no one except her dad's protege, Jake--whom Anne doubt would see her as more than a baby to babysit, Anne started her first day at school awkwardly. Luckily, Christ, a guy she met at the beach with Jake, recognized her and asked her to join the popular crowd. Everyone seems friendly, except Ellie, the prettiest one. Chris then asked Anne to learn how to surf, and surprisingly, Anne was talented in it so that she decided to join the Surf Fest.
Ellie was smart, pretty, and talented in surfing. After her mom's death, her father became obsessed in training her to become a surfer. Only with Jade and Lola, her best friends, Ellie could relax. Ellie had been liking Chris, her friend since childhood for so long, but had never been brave enough to tell him her feeling... until the new girl came to town and becoming her rival in winning Chris' heart and in Surf Fest.
Lola a.k.a Lolita had always be fun to hang-out with. But actually, she was keeping a secret. She had had a secret boyfriend and got dumped. Her Mexican parents now were matchmaking her with a guy named Diego, who she refused so much.
Jade had been in this unhealthy friendship with Ben, who was a drug and alcohol addict. Goodhearted Jade had always wanted to help Ben even when he'd never really asked for it. Until the police stopped Jade's car and found drugs on the back seat.
Stories about summer and beach has always been able to entertain me and girls doing surfing?? That's awesome!! Surfing, for me, is one of dangerous sports and since I don't like being in salt water and having my adrenaline pumped, I only love to read/watch about it and admire people who doing that kind of sport. Sadly, the story of this book apparently didn't work well on me.
The problem is not about how light the story is. Since before I started to read it, I already knew that Laguna Cove would be such a light reading because it is meant for a light summer read--a kind of book you can bring and read while you are sunbathing on the beach. The problem is on how underdeveloped the characters are. There were 4 girls with their own problems as the center of the story: Anne, Ellie, Jade, and Lola. They were in the same crowd so that I expected more interaction on them and how each other's presence affect the others. While Ellie's and Anne's life conflicted, I was hoping to read more about how they solve their problems together. But until the end, Ellie kept hiding her feeling toward Chris and acting cold to Anne while Anne was totally clueless about why Ellie hated her. And about Lola? I think the settlement of her issue was too easy and save. Only Jade who had a problem which I found make sense. I understand her intention to help Ben.
Not only the underdeveloped characters, the conflicts were also unfinished. Too many sub-conflicts but none was settled. The last page of the book feels like the last page of a chapter, but with no other chapter that followed. At first I thought Cruel Summer would be like a companion of Laguna Cove--while the main character is different, it would have the same settings and the same crowd-- but apparently, it is not. So, yeah, Laguna Cove was done just like that.
What's left on me after reading Laguna Cove? Disappointment. Yes. Too bad that the story was underdeveloped like that, because, honestly, I think Alyson Noel has good writing skill. I did enjoy reading first half of Laguna Cove (before I knew that the ending would be just like that) and for me, Alyson Noel captured teenagers' voices well.