This book falls into a rare category in my back catalogue of reviews. I hardly ever award a book 5 stars and I hardly ever award a book 1 star because I want to reserve them for books that are genuinely perfect or genuinely awful. Unfortunately for Zoe Foster, she now becomes the author of only the second book I’ve ever give 1 star to.
Lily is the narrator and she may well be the titular wrong girl as well – it’s hard to tell, there are so many of them in the book. After sleeping with her best friend, Pete, he casually tells her he’s in love with someone else. She not-so-casually tells him piss off and that’s the last we see of him. Lily’s housemate, Simone, has just broken up with a total dick so the girls decide to have a man break and detox.
But Simone is a bikini model and an airhead and a perpetual pill-popper, so she doesn’t last very long. Instead, she hooks up with… well, pretty much everyone in the book. And then she nabs the hot new chef Lily works with as a segment producer on a morning television show. Cue Lily spending pretty much the rest of the book alternating between being envious and telling herself she doesn’t really like the chef that much.
In between, Lily hates, then loves, then hates, then loves, then quits her job; dates a muso, ignores a muso, shags another muso, silently creeps out of that muso’s hotel room; goes to Greece for her thirtieth birthday with her mum and her mum’s new boyfriend (ew!); returns home to get kicked out of her house by a relocating Simone who is embracing an informal rehab program and the dick of a boyfriend she broke up with at the start of the book; and then lands her dream job. Because that’s what happens in Gen Y land – mummy pays for a trip to Europe and everything you ever wanted happens if you just let it. Vomit!
I read this book knowing that Valentine’s Day was coming up in my blog book review schedule and because I love a good theme, I thought it would be appropriate. But there is no stage of relationship anyone can be in that would make it timely for this book to be read. Whiny, self-indulgent, Gen Y characters, thank you but no. Snapshot of “I know everything, why am I not paid better and universally adored?” passing itself off as plot, ugh. Dialogue that sounds like a primary schooler wrote it while imagining how adults talk when children aren’t around, meh. And writing so bad I don’t understand how the book ever got published. Of course, I know how it got published. The author has an okay back catalogue, a famous husband and is now doing underwear commercials so she’s a marketer’s dream. But based on this effort, she certainly isn’t a reader’s dream.
If you’ve seen the television miniseries adaptation and read the book, you’ll realise that they share only the most basic of plot points. Clearly, the producers realised how bad the book was and knew they’d have to make changes but, you know, marketer’s dream and all that, especially with famous husband making a charming cameo.
Perhaps the worst part comes in the acknowledgements where the author thanks her editor and publisher “who encouraged me to perform some exquisite surgery on my story and make it into the tight, fun package you just read”. I’m not sure how this book could have been worse but apparently it was. It’s just a shame that neither the author nor her editor realised it was brain dead long before the surgery was over due to a lack of oxygen.
The only redeeming thing about this book is that it serves as an important lesson for everyone out there writing: if something as bad as this book can be published, then there’s still hope for the rest of us.
*First published on Goodreads 16 November 2016