Saving Ben by Ashley Farley

Feels Like: Regina George finally lost her mind completely and went total Swim Fan.

Sounds Like: You Found Me – The Fray/ I’ll Be – Edwin McCain

Let me begin this review by stating that I read this in a weekend and was thoroughly shocked by how the writing transitioned throughout the book. The dialogue was very uncomfortable at first and seemed forced in writing. I equate it to someone having started writing this in high school and then returned to it several years after college without rereading the beginning and fixing the choppy dialogue.

It begins with our antagonist, Emma, going missing and then jumps thirteen months back in time. This was totally unnecessary. I almost completely forgot about the beginning of the book by the time we came full circle.

In Saving Ben we find two unnaturally close pairs of brother-sister siblings who spend their summers together at their lake houses with their cliché-ly distant well off parents. Ben and Kitty’s relationship seems borderline inappropriate and even one of the other characters mentions it. It was very distracting. When Kitty starts school at the University of Virginia with her brother, who is two years her senior, she takes her chances with “the roommate lottery.”

Enter Emma Stone – that’s her full character name, can I get an eye roll please – stage right. Let me interrupt and make a call to the casting directors of Hollywood. If and when this book is made into a B level movie I’ll go ahead and tell you right now that Bella Thorne wouldn’t even have to act if she was cast as Emma. From her Instagram page and various other movie roles, Thorne would make the perfect Emma. She could simply tap back into her character from You Get Me which holds a similar young adult stalker storyline.

Emma seems like the perfect roommate at first. She’s beautiful, outgoing, full of pep and ensnares every male figure in this book almost instantly. Of course Kitty’s older brother Ben is her biggest victim, which is an understatement, mind you. She pits Ben against his best friend George, one of the siblings they spend their summers with, by flirting openly with them both. She causes full on brawls between the two boys and eventually decides that Ben is hers for the taking whether anyone likes it or not, which, no spoiler, no one does.

Ben takes a nose dive and gets into alcohol and hard core drugs, hence the title Saving Ben, which is a title I’m not a fan of. It becomes Kitty’s job to out the crazed Emma and separate her brother from the vixen who begins showing up where she isn’t invited, stealing, and swindling Ben out of thousands of dollars on top of ruining his relationship with his sister, family and friends.

One holiday at the lake however, Emma goes missing and the story kind of derails from there. I’ll admit that I genuinely enjoyed this book, but I have to agree with other readers that there are some major plot issues. This book could have been a lot longer than its 250 pages and explained a lot more.

SPOILERS & GOSSIP

 There are so many moments that pull at your heartstrings and I legitimately shed tears when Abby, the younger sister of George, ends up dying due to her struggle with anorexia. While this story line came from stage left, we eventually find out that Emma was bullying Abby which only added to her preexisting disorder, which leads George to go full on Friday the 13th and murder Emma in the boathouse. Can I get George in the boathouse with a knife to win the game? Yep!

The anger from George is genuine but without the background information that Emma was bullying Abby behind the scenes you don’t fully understand why he’s the murderer until he mentions it in brief while he’s chasing Kitty through the woods with a knife.

While readers easily hate Emma from the start, her death seems unnecessary and untimely. I would have rather Emma gone full stalker and then disappeared only to begin stalking another victim somewhere else. Did I mention she sleeps with her rich uncle, ruins his marriage, steals from them and then gets murdered? What a waste. Her death just doesn’t seem to fit. It was shocking and left me with a lot of questions. George’s sudden insanity just comes from nowhere as well and seems to be a scapegoat to get rid of Emma, which isn’t necessary in wrapping up the story.

Overall this is a great book for a weekend read. It’s quick, emotional, and suspenseful even if the ending is slightly rushed and disappointing. I think GoodReads reviewer Cameron Vest summed it up best when he said, “Disappointing. Not well edited at all. The book spends a lot of time setting up a mystery that is never heartily explored.” There are just too many stories in one book that deserve more detail and attention. The book just wraps up in a sloppy way and leaves the reader unsatisfied.

Others said:

“Rich white kids with rich white kid problems…”

“Ending was not believable and felt like the author was in a rush to finish.”

“A storyline that started off okay and just deteriorated. No good conclusion to anything.”

“Quite simply, this book was so bad it was good in a way that can only be described as a strange fusion of Jerry Springer, Dr. Phil, and Pretty Little Liars.”

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