Sunday, February 24, 2019

REVIEW: Neanderthal Seeks Human (e-book) by Penny Reid

Neanderthal Seeks Human could be considered either a contemporary romantic comedy or chick lit. I'd say "chick lit" works better.


Janie's life isn't quite what she'd hoped it would be. She'd like to be an architect, but instead she's an accountant at an architectural firm. Her boyfriend Jon is...okay. Perfectly nice and very well off, but otherwise just okay. But Janie knows she's no prize herself (even though her friends repeatedly tell her otherwise) - she's too tall, her head is too big, and she has a tendency to go on and on about topics that no one thinks are important or fascinating but her.

Unfortunately, Janie has just learned that Jon cheated on her. She has also just been fired. Since she refuses to stay in the apartment she and Jon were sharing, her best friend Elizabeth's offer to let her stay at her place is the only thing keeping her from being homeless. The one bright spot in her terrible day is Sir Handsome McHotpants, the sexy security guard who escorted her out when she was fired.

A later encounter with McHotpants, whose real name is Quinn, results in an offer that could turn her whole life around. But is this really a solution to her problems, or just a different kind of trouble?

According to my records, I downloaded this for free three years ago. The cover looked relatively cute, but the subtitle, "a smart romance," gave me knee-jerk annoyance - I disliked the implication that romances aren't generally "smart." So it sat in my e-TBR until I learned that the author will be attending a conference that my mom and I are going to in a few months.

I had a little trouble getting into this book. I get that Janie was supposed to be awkward, but the way Reid wrote her was a bit much. Her habit of blurting out unnecessary facts wasn't just present in her dialogue, but also in her narration, and there were times I ended up doing more skimming than reading. There were also some really painful secondhand embarrassment moments - most of Janie's early on-page encounters with Quinn made me cringe.

I enjoyed myself more after the job offer happened, although other things started bugging me. As good as Janie was with numbers and random facts, she didn't seem to care in the slightest about the things going on around her that could have a direct effect on her life. Like, say, Quinn's true identity. It was pretty clear there was more to him than he was saying, and his reaction to a few of Janie's statements should have made her wildly curious, even if only from a "I like this guy and want to know more about him" standpoint. But it didn't, and so she basically had to find it out by accident.

Then there was Quinn himself. I liked that he listened to Janie and noticed the sorts of things she was interested in. I'm a sucker for romance heroes who unexpectedly find themselves falling in love and don't know what to do when they're smacked in the face with their feelings. I loved Quinn's dawning horror as he realized how Janie would likely react to learning his true identity. But ugh, I hated the meal scenes.

In one, Janie and Quinn were alone in a room with a buffet-style meal with hot dogs, burgers, potato chips, and fruit. When Janie started to fix herself a plate, she was interrupted by Quinn, who'd already fixed one for her, right down to picking the condiments for her hot dogs. Janie's only comment was that the hot dogs were just the way she liked them. In another scene, Janie and Quinn were at a fancy restaurant. Janie was about to order when Quinn swooped in and ordered for the both of them without checking with her first. This time around, Janie noted in the narrative that this sort of thing would normally annoy but didn't in this instance. I ground my teeth in frustration.

The bulk of the book was first person, from Janie's POV. In the epilogue, it suddenly switched to first person from Quinn's POV. While I enjoyed the conversation between Quinn and Elizabeth, Quinn's "voice" struck me as oddly bland, not at all what I would have expected. Also, the POV switch didn't do anything beyond give Elizabeth and Quinn a chance to talk out of Janie's earshot - there was no real insight into Quinn's thoughts or life beyond the stuff readers already knew from Janie's POV.

This was certainly a quick read, but not as good as I'd hoped it would be. It looks like the other books in the series are each focused on different members of Janie's knitting group. I'm not sure whether I'll ever give any of them a go. While I liked how supportive the knitting group was as a whole, most of the individual members didn't make much of an impression on me.

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