Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on 10/16/2012
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, New Adult, Romance
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Eighteen year old Harper has grown up under her career Marine of a father's thumb. Ready to live life her own way and experience things she's only ever heard of from the jarheads in her father's unit; she's on her way to college at San Diego State University.
Thanks to her new roommate, Harper is introduced to a world of parties, gorgeous guys, family and emotions. Some she wasn't expecting yet, and others she never knew she was missing.
She finds herself being torn in two as she quickly falls in love with her boyfriend Brandon, and her roommate's brother Chase. Covered in tattoos, known for fighting in the Underground and ridiculously muscled...they're exactly what she was always warned to stay away from, but just what she needs. Despite their dangerous looks and histories, both adore and would do anything for Harper, including stepping back if it means she's happy.
Her first year away is turning out to be near perfect, but one weekend of giving in to heated passion will change everything.
I wanted to like Taking Chances, because it sounded promising and very much a novel I would enjoy. Even the cover is intriguing, and speaks volumes about the people on it. But I should have known better than to trust a cover, because the delivery fell short and I was left sorely disappointed – and more than a little ragey.
I’m going to try hard not to rant in this post, but if I fail….well, sorry. It’s nothing short of amazing that I completed this novel to begin with; I found myself checking the page count time and again, just to see how close I was to the end so I could mark it as “done.” 50%? That’s it?! This was my first problem with the book: large swaths of it could have been hacked out and I would have never missed it. And just when I think it’s going to end, nope, still more to go. I have no problem with long books, but I don’t like unnecessarily lengthy books where the plot is weak. Like this one.
There were also some tense and grammar issues, not with the characters’ voices, but with the narration, and it threw me off quite a bit. And let’s get the other pesky details out of the way: the MC was homeschooled by her father, but the details felt very wrong. Homeschooling requires an active hand in your child’s education. Her dad didn’t do that, he just left her to her own devices. He also took her out onto the drill field every morning…I am 99% sure that is not allowed in real life, especially post-9/11 (which is mentioned in the book). There are other little things, but if I keep going, I’ll just never stop. These little details felt like convenient plot devices to explain Harper’s past, her money, her relationship with her father, but they weren’t done well or were without research.
I’m not sure if I really disliked it or only sort of disliked it. Harper is off to college for the first time and away from her Marine Corps dad, and hey, I get that she grew up in a strict environment (I was a Navy brat after all), and she’s going to cut loose. But…it felt like the author established her character as one way, but the moment she gets to the dorms, it’s piercings, slutty clothes and drinking galore. You know, out of character for someone like Harper, who still does act reserved. And the explanation is just…”she wants to experience life.“ I know this really does happen, but it felt out of place and fake to me here.
I was often frustrated with them while they continued to put themselves in ridiculous situations one after another. McAdams passes off all the guys (or most) as Neanderthals when it comes to girls, like every look at someone’s girlfriend results in fisticuffs. Seriously, that doesn’t happen in real life every god damn day. This is a direct result of “how beautiful” Harper is (but doesn’t realize – how cliché) and her unrealized beauty and tiny stature is brought up on every other page. Okay, yes, yes, yes, I GET THAT SHE IS CUTE AND SHORT. Let’s all say “awwwww” now.
This book is also ALL about the Love Triangle – and the effects of the Love Triangle. (And sort of Harper finding herself, but not really.) I think that was supposed to be the point of the story, but it gets lost in all the hoopla and drama surround the Love Triangle between Harper, Brandon and Chase. It’s hard to see around those three to anything else. (btw, the insta-love in this book was sickening).
Taking Chances isn’t without its merits. Some of the characters are likeable, but only just a few, because most I just wanted to slash. But McAdams ****ing killed off my favorite character and – surprisingly – right here is where the merit of the book lay: McAdams can write for emotion. I cried. A couple of times. I NEVER CRY DURING BOOKS. Except maybe The Hunger Games when….well you know when. I don’t cry and McAdams made me feel things. All kinds of things, and I was sad and bittersweet for the rest of the story. Damn you, Molly McAdams.
So….I don’t know how to rate this. I didn’t enjoy it. But I didn’t totally hate it either. 90% of it pissed me off but it made me feel things, too. What am I supposed to think of a book like that? So in the end, I just remain frustrated that I was sad for a character or two but disliked the story.
I guess what I’m saying here is, read at your own risk, YMMV.
I’d grown up with only my dad, and I loved him, but he didn’t know how to be a parent. The only part he seemed to get was the word “no”.