There is a part of me that I am deeply ashamed of but that I can’t deny. I am incredibly competitive. Not about important things, like earning the most money or being the best human or whatever. I’m competitive about the small stuff. My son calls it Momster because he is the one who really gets a good look at it . . . Her . . . the other side. Literary character costume contests, science fair displays, pumpkin carving competitions – these are the things that drive me. I’ve been competing with the other moms (unbeknownst to them) since my son brought home his first project in Kindergarten. It’s a little evil, but I just can’t get past the feeling that I walked away the superior mom in a competition. All this is to say that I got this character. Competition can blind you (to the fact that your ten year old doesn’t want to dress up as a The Little Prince even if it’ll mean a slam dunk) and it can make you a little crazy (pushing old ladies out of the way to get the last two orange fuzzy bath mats that are going to be the envy of the Dr. Seuss costume competition after a few hours plotting and sewing). But competition, when it means so much to someone or something you love, is something I can understand. So, despite the fact that I didn’t love this book, I got it.
It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey…
With her trusty baton and six insanely organized clipboards, drum major Liza Sanders is about to take Destiny by storm—the boat, that is. When Liza discovered that her beloved band was losing funding, she found Destiny, a luxury cruise ship complete with pools, midnight chocolate buffets, and a $25,000 spring break talent show prize.
Liza can’t imagine senior year without the band, and nothing will distract her from achieving victory. She’s therefore not interested when her old camp crush, Lenny, shows up on board, looking shockingly hipster-hot. And she’s especially not interested in Russ, the probably-as-dumb-as-he-is-cute prankster jock whose ex, Demi, happens be Liza’s ex–best friend and leader of the Athenas, a show choir that’s the band’s greatest competition.
But it’s not going to be smooth sailing. After the Destiny breaks down, all of Liza’s best-laid plans start to go awry. Liza likes to think of herself as an expert at almost everything, but when it comes to love, she’s about to find herself lost at sea.
I really liked Meant To Be, this author’s other book, and many of my students enjoyed it as well. I just knew I would be a fan of this one, but, funny thing, it reads like a washed out version of Meant To Be. The characters are less vivid, the situations are not as funny, and the romance is much less engaging.
The romance was probably the biggest disappointment for me. It suffered from the pacing. Lisa spends most of her time eating, practicing, and then going to her cabin. There just wasn’t a lot of opportunity for relationships to blossom believably. I wasn’t surprised or unhappy with the ending, but I was sad that the journey wasn’t as good as the destination.
The strongest part of this book was its theme of friendship, and the way that Liza kind of gives herself over to the evil competitive side we are all suppressing most of the time. I will say that the final competition was well played. It was unexpected and pretty perfect.
Overall, this book was a fast, fun read. I think people will be drawn to the cover, and they will probably enjoy the book. Language and situations are appropriate for grades seven and up.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.