I want to start off by saying that it was incredibly hard for me to write this review, especially since most of the reviews I’ve done so far have been fairly positive. However, it frustrates me when I pick up a book that appears to have all the ingredients of a fantastic book…only to find myself disappointed with it somewhere along the way.
I believe that I am a picky reader and sometimes I over analyze things, especially when it comes to well…reality. I’m sure many readers are the same way. So I tend to notice when a plot is paced too fast or if romance occurs too suddenly or even if the main characters have the tiniest of flaws.
I know it really depends on a person’s tastes and some people just accept things easier than others. But when I started this blog, I knew I wanted to use it as a way to express the way I felt about the books I read. And I wanted to be as fair as possible without being a ripper. Why is this you ask? Because I respect the writers out there who took the time and energy to actually write and publish a book. Something I’ve yet to do…
Again, I love romantic young adult books with a mix of magic in it. Fantasy is an excellent genre as it keeps everything just a little more interesting. But whether a story has magic, faeries, time travel or not, I still have to find it believable. As in: Does the story make sense? Is it physically possible? And by physically–I mean, could something like this really happen in a world where the unbelievable does exist?
An author can be absolutely amazing at writing. But without authenticity in the way a story unfolds, it’s hard to really capture my attention and pull me in. Quite frankly, I read because some part of me really wishes that I was on a mind blowing adventure. That I was experiencing everything alongside the main characters like an invisible side kick. So I have to feel and believe that I’m on that journey to really become a part of the book. Unfortunately, Waterfall by Lisa Tawn Bergen failed on those elements. Fundamentally, a very well written book, there were just certain things about Waterfall that didn’t sit right with me.
Most American teenagers want a vacation in Italy, but the Betarrini sisters have spent every summer of their lives among the romantic hills with their archaelogist parents. Stuck among the rubble of the medieval castles in rural Tuscany, on yet another hot, dusty archaeological site, Gabi and Lia are bored out of their minds…until Gabi places her hand atop a handprint in an ancient tomb and finds herself in fourteenth-century Italy. And worse yet, in the middle of a fierce battle between knights of two opposing forces.
Suddenly Gabi’s summer in Italy is much, much more interesting.
A part of me felt that this book was one big history lesson presented in a way that is suppose to appeal to a teenage crowd–sort of like those comic books on health subjects made for kids. We had a beautiful backdrop set in the medieval times–the birthplace of happily ever after. We had handsome and charming knights. Damsels in distress. Castles. Everything. What we were missing was a main character who actually had some flaws. A main character who wasn’t made out to be some sort of genius saint.
Gabi Betarrini seemed to have had a solution for just about every obstacle that occurred in this book, which is what I have to say, was the most unrealistic part about Waterfall. For your normal American teenager, Gabi knew three different languages (not including the fact that she miraculously knew how to speak in fourteenth century lingo), knew how to ride a horse bareback, knew how to tie good knots, knew poetry, was medically trained, recalled practically every history subject she ever learned, and most of all, knew how to wield a sword. Her expertise in these areas were a bit too convenient for my tastes —especially since she happened to need all of these skills when she went back in time. If anything, Gabi has got to be the luckiest girl in the world!
In addition to Gabi’s numerous talents, Waterfall by Lisa Burgen could have been a great book if two other things were changed: 1) The time travel aspect was removed and 2) Luca was the main love interest.
The book is told from Gabi’s perspective — which is fine — except when it came to mixing Gabi’s 21st century thoughts with Burgen’s formal language of describing Gabi’s surroundings. It was as if Burgen forgot that this story was being told from the perspective of a modern day girl, only to realize it half way through a paragraph and then decided to plop in random duhs and ohmigods to make up for it. A little harsh…I know, which is why I felt that this book could have been great if the time travel aspect was completely removed (but then again that would change everything wouldn’t it?). Gabi was already speaking in fourteenth century lingo, wearing the clothes and playing the part perfectly from the moment she stepped into medieval times. It didn’t make sense because the whole time travel thing was never really the issue here–especially since Gabi accepted it so easily to begin with.
I think the normal reaction would have been to freak out completely.
Instead, Gabi literally falls in love with our main man, Marcello, ten seconds after going back into time. Which brings me to my second point. Waterfall would have won about a million brownie points if somewhere along the way–while Gabi was pining for Marcello–she actually fell for Luca instead. It was what I was hoping for since I’m a sucker for good romance. Except it didn’t happen.
Marcello wasn’t a bad guy. He was gallant in every single way…except he was about as interesting as a cardboard box with no bubble wrap to play with. It is mentioned multiple times throughout the book that Gabi felt her relationship with Marcello was different from anything else she had ever experienced before. Gabi had to tell us that. Which meant that we as readers couldn’t see that for ourselves. I just wasn’t convinced that Marcello and Gabi had anything meaningful between them when nothing really ever did transpire between them. He was too proper and too sweet–there was nothing fun about it. Which is why I couldn’t understand why Gabi was so bitter towards his fiancé. From day one, she was constantly judging the girl for everything — mentally calling her out for doing this and saying that. It was totally uncalled for and probably the last thing I would have been thinking if I was thrown back into time. Thus, I felt that Luca would have been the stronger male lead. At least he brought a smile to my face from time to time. His interactions with Gabi were much more entertaining.
Sadly, I will not be picking up the next book in this series. I know my review wasn’t really a review — more a rant of “what if” scenarios, but then again, this isn’t a traditional book blog, right? More of my opinion mixed with praise or criticism. I also apologize in advance as I do not have a theme song for this book. However, this book did appeal to a lot of individuals on Goodreads. I’m definitely in the minority so perhaps I missed something important (after skimming here and there). I do recommend that you give it a try however…you might just like it!
Theme Music: None