Monday, July 26, 2021

Book Review: Luck of the Titanic

Happy Monday! I have such a busy week ahead of me loaded with kid doctor appointments, therapy for me, and it ends with Lucy turning FIVE. You guys- my baby is going to be FIVE. It means that I am five years post AFE and I have a lot of feelings about it. I just... this is always a hard week for me anyways, full of trauma memories and PTSD triggers that I cannot avoid, so I am kicking myself in the ass for scheduling so much this week. I originally thought it would be better if I was busy and had no time to think about things, but I am now realizing that was incredibly stupid because I'm just thinking about them while I'm doing things and I'm crying in the middle of errands. I pumped gas in full tears. Why? I saw a pregnant woman getting into a car. Nice to see I'm back to being terrified of pregnant women again. Sigh.  

Luck of the Titanic - Stacey Lee

Valora Luck has two things: a ticket for the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner in the world, and a dream of leaving England behind and making a life for herself as a circus performer in New York. Much to her surprise, though, she's turned away at the gangway; apparently, Chinese people aren't allowed into America.

But Val has to get on that ship. Her twin brother, Jamie, who has spent two long years at sea, is on board, as is an influential circus owner. Thankfully, there's not much a trained acrobat like Val can't overcome when she puts her mind to it.

As a stowaway, Val should keep her head down and stay out of sight. But the clock is ticking and she has just seven days as the ship makes its way across the Atlantic to find Jamie, audition for the circus owner, and convince him to help get them both into America.

Then one night, the unthinkable happens, and suddenly Val's dreams of a new life are crushed under the weight of the only thing that matters: survival. 
It is really going to pain me to write this review, but you guys know I'm totally honest with reviews, so I can't lie to you- this one was terrible. I almost DNF'ed it, and I wish I would have. Luck of the Titanic was the book chosen for Once Upon a Book Club's "The Unsinkable Ship" box and I obviously figured out the book and the theme of the box right away. I mean, there is only one unsinkable ship, the Titanic. I was already torn about this because we already know what happens to the Titanic, it isn't like someone could re-write history and have it not sink, and frankly, your characters are either going to die or make it to New York to basically assume a new identity. We already know all of this. 

Of course, this book followed that outline, some characters die and some make it, and considering our main characters are twins Val and Jamie, you can already start making some guesses. Let's talk about those characters though, because they were part of the reason I didn't like this book. Val is really.... selfish. She's incredibly selfish and she believes her dream is automatically shared by Jamie because they are twins. She fails to recognize it's very much not Jamie's dream and she ignores all of the strife Jamie has gone through, mostly for her, and she literally only thinks about herself. She makes all of these plans and just assumes Jamie will agree and go along with it, never once considering that maybe, just maybe he likes his life now. It's like that can't even be a faint possibility to her. Jamie is no saint either, he's the king of avoiding confrontation and instead of setting Val in her place quickly and once and for all, he does what he can to appease her and putting off conversations until it's too late. Never mind the fact that he should have written home, at least, to tell her how he really felt so she's not making all of these crazy plans. 

Easily the most interesting part of this book is the timeliness of the story with current events involving Asian Americans and blatant racism making an outrageous comeback. We don't hear about the "lower class" travelers on the Titanic, mainly only the upper class and how luxurious their cruise was supposed to be. Reading about the other end of that spectrum was interesting, but also having the Chinese Exclusion Act highlighted was what made me not DNF this book. That is literally the only positive about this book, and I'm being generous because it was sloppily included in this book, maybe to solely make it relevant or get it on a list of books highlighting racism to increase sales, I don't know. I just know that if it wasn't in here I wouldn't have picked this up otherwise, and while it was interesting, is it done well enough for me to suggest you read it? Nope. 

I also don't know what the actual point to the insane amount of back story, completely unnecessary to the story. The idea that they would somehow convince an American circus owner they are good enough to be a circus act? Nuts at best. Val helping a fashion designer out of nowhere on the ship? WHY?! Why add this? It felt like the author was really grasping at straws to pull this one together and it just really fell flat. 
Usually the fun part about Once Upon a Book Club boxes is that the gifts in the box are super fun, connect you to the story, and just make it an actual experience. These gifts? The worst. It felt like even they were grasping. We have a ticket inside of a folio, the cheapest pair of slippers I have ever seen, a golden whale, and a feather. No, I'm not joking, a feather. Yes, they are all tied to the story so I can't knock that, but literally everything was tossed into the trash. So disappointing. 

I'm a little unsure of the other box I have sitting here, but we'll see. It's not enough to make me cancel my subscription, but June feels like a total bummer of a month for OUABC. 


Why Girls Are Weird said...

What a bummer that this was so off the mark!

Shooting Stars Mag said...

Oh darn, I was excited about this one. I did really love her book The Downstairs Girl. And yeah...these gifts are kind of terrible. I mean, a feather?? Not exciting. hah