When I finished Rainbow Rowell’s first adult novel, Attachments a few months ago, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit gypped. Not because the plot wasn’t interesting or the story wasn’t written well, because believe me, those were the best parts about it. It was more or less about how Rowell developed the story that fell short. I felt like I started reading this intricate, unique story, and then all of the sudden the pace picked up, and I was left wondering about a handful of grey areas that Rowell never bothered to tie up.
This is the same exact way I feel about Rowell’s new adult novel, Landline, which hit the shelves early last week. The novel, which centers on the rocky marriage of Georgie McCool and her husband Neal, is really intriguing at first. The idea that Georgie had this yellow landline telephone to communicate with Neal in the past is really innovative and the fact that Rowell would combine science fiction and romance is impressive. But then you read about the phone and all of it’s unexplained “mystical powers” and you realize that this is just a great idea that was not properly executed.
I really hate being the one that calls out the phone, but I can’t help it. Just saying there’s a magic phone does not cut it. There needs to be explanation of how and why the phone was given this magic for me to believe it. Call me a realist or say that I’m looking way too much into it but the reality of it is, the phone is what makes this story special. Without it, this would just be Georgie reflecting on her rocky marriage while trying to frantically fix it at the same time, plain and simple.
Again, I really don’t want to be a jerk about this. I think highly of Rainbow Rowell’s writing style and I love the way she brings all of her characters to life. While reading Landline, I felt like I was watching Georgie and Neal’s marriage play out on screen, or as if I was right there in their world as an innocent bystander. Books are supposed to make you feel like you’re escaping into an alternate universe and I feel like Rowell knows how to make that work in all of her books, both adult and young adult.
However, she really needs to flesh out her ideas more and remind herself who her audience is. Rowell clearly has a really beautiful imagination, but she just needs to see through on some of her ideas, especially when she’s catering the story toward readers both young and old. Once she can successfully do this, I can see her popularity soaring as high as John Green, Veronica Roth, Suzanne Collins, and maybe someday, JK Rowling.
As the Managing Editor, Lauren Stern is responsible for curating Pop-Break.com’s content. This includes managing the editorial staff, coordinating the content calendar, and assigning publishing dates and deadlines. She graduated Rutgers University with a degree in Journalism and Philosophy. She spends her free time searching for the best gluten-free food in the Tri-State area, playing with her dogs, and reading an insane amount of books. She tweets constantly about pop culture and social issues and hopes you follow her musings @laurenpstern.