ARC Review: Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

17286910Rating: 2.5 / 5
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Expected publication: September 3, 2013 by Bloomsbury USA
Number of pages: 224
Source: Borrowed ARC
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Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.

The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can’t help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world’s greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they’ve ever known.

Like a master painter herself, Daisy Whitney brings inordinate talent and ingenuity to this romantic, suspenseful, and sophisticated new novel.A beautifully decorated package makes it a must-own in print.

Check out the rest of this review! I posted some pictures of my travels.

There were a lot of reasons why I really wanted to read Starry Nights.

La première raison:The setting is in France. I love France. I studied there for a while, stayed for a bit in Strasbourg, Paris, and Épernay, and spent time with a few foster families. My boyfriend is French. I love their champagne. You get the picture. I’m not the ultimate Francophile, but that country has a special place in my heart. C’est claire?

La deuxième raison: J’adore les arts! I absolutely love art. The time I spent walking inside Musée du Louvre was one of the best 3 hours of my life. Art coming to life sounds pretty awesome, if you ask me, so this book really took the word “excitement” to a whole different level.

Starry Nights therefore had the perfect recipe. I was absolutely ready to devour this book and love every minute and every page, ready for it to give me that precious nostalgia of my time in France – all that art, history, and l’amour… but alas! It was not meant to be. In the end, I only felt disappointment that left an overwhelming bitter taste in my mouth.

First of all, it’s set in France. In Paris. Paris, while not exactly my favorite city in the world, is still a magical place that’s very distinct from other cities; it has something that sets it apart from others. Be it la tour Eiffel, or the lack of high-rise buildings, or that coffee shop Paul that seems to be everywhere, whatever. The thing is… Paris is different. So why the hell wasn’t it described enough? You can’t just throw in the picture of Eiffel tower on the cover and expect us to just imagine the place automatically. Throughout the book, I was waiting for the details of the place, but there were almost none. Paris wasn’t represented enough, wasn’t illustrated enough. I couldn’t picture anything. It didn’t give the City of Love justice.

Sure, it’s not a travel guide. I’m not expecting this book to give me a vivid, bright picture of what Paris looks like, but DUDE. What’s the point of putting the characters and the plot in a different setting and not describe it at least in moderate detail, not give enough information with regards to what it looks like? I was expecting this book to take me back there, to give me that French vibe, but honestly, with the way the novel turned out, it felt like it could’ve taken place anywhere. It threw the names Musée d’Orsay and Musée du Louvre around, but lol, it felt like it could’ve been any other Museum. It didn’t feel special at all.

Like for example, the place Montmartre was thrown. They were supposed to meet some people there, and the only description I’ve gotten was the fact there was a steep hill with lots of streets. LOL!!! Really? REALLY? I stayed in Montmartre for a few days and I can describe it better than what was given in less than a minute. There’s Moulin Rouge, there are at least two metros (there are probably more though), there’s like a street full of sex shops, there’s a steep hill with a famous restaurant that was in a Hollywood movie once, on top of the hill is Le Sacré Cœur, and there’s a sort of bazaar nearby full of artists that would sell their works from €30-€200. And oh, there are a LOT of shady kids waiting by the metro entrances that would ask you to donate money for the blind and would NOT leave you the fuck alone ’til you do so (unless you’re stealthy and sneaky).

Anyway, before I get sidetracked, what I mean to say is the setting was very underwhelming. The city, the museums, it didn’t give me that magical feeling, not even the feeling of nostalgia, or that feeling we’re somewhere different from the usual American town/city, and this aspect therefore turned out very disappointing. It definitely had so much potential, but in the end, it felt like being given a hamburger with no meat (I’m hungry, okay >_<).

One of the things that made this story interesting at first was its paranormal aspect. For Julien, the things or people in the paintings he’s surrounded with come alive at night. They go out of their bronze or silver frames and manifest themselves in the flesh, totally giving us that Night at the Museum vibes. Unfortunately, this aspect felt underwhelming. Once again, I’m not expecting an art guide or anything like that, but Paris is the city of art and history. Centuries ago, art thrived here. It lived here. And until now, countless paintings still hang the walls of different museums all around the country, including paintings from the 13th century and those even older than that. You’d think more pieces of art would be featured, even in passing, but it just fell short. This is another reason why Musée d’Orsay and Musée du Louvre felt lacking – not many paintings were presented, at least the paintings that make Musée d’Orsay THE Musée d’Orsay or the Louvre THE Louvre. Get what I mean? Thus, it felt like it was any other museum.

In short, it did not feel French. It did not feel like it was in France. And therefore, I didn’t even connect to the characters because everything else felt so inadequate and inefficient. I wish I could care more, care about Julien’s powers coming to light and his falling in love with one of the paintings, but I couldn’t. I didn’t. And besides, insta-love? Really? :/ I never understood this one… you hang out for a couple of hours and you love each other already? Sure, it must have happened in real life several times, but it’s often exaggerated in fiction and I can’t get its appeal.

There were a lot of things about the plot that bugged me, too. Dude, Musée d’Orsay and Musée du Louvre are really bigshots when it comes to the preservation of artifacts and history. These institutions are well-guarded, and I’m pretty sure there are CCTV cameras all over the place, so how the frack did Julien sneak in and get away with it every night? It must have been explained later, and I may have missed it, but it was still unbelievable how he stayed a little before midnight, touched the paintings, and sneaked out at 2 or 1 o clock in the morning each and every time. Uhh… sure…

It also really bugged me how his best friend easily accepted Julien’s “paranormal powers” like they were just talking about the weather. The build-up was lacking, there wasn’t enough tension to build excitement… the list could go on and on. And that ending? SUPER CONVENIENT. Ugh, it still pisses me off whenever I think about it. I didn’t even feel sad because I kind of knew things would become all right without much trouble, and I felt crushed when my hunch was right.

Perhaps I am not this book’s audience. Perhaps it would appeal more to those who are looking for a fluffy, romantic read, those who don’t overanalyze and those who don’t care for much exposition. If you’re that kind of person, you may enjoy this. Despite my complaints, I did think it was a decent story, but it just wasn’t for me.

Final Verdict: 2.5 / 5

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EXTRA

I stayed for a while in Montmartre (not really the ideal place to stay, so I suggest checking in another hotel The place is shady as fuck). Here are some of the pictures I took when I went sight-seeing!

This is the restaurant near the foot of the hill that was featured in a Hollywood movie once. At least, that’s what I was told… it’s always jam-packed and full of tourists! If anyone can remind me of what movie this restaurant was featured in, I would appreciate it very much!

Near the top of the hill, there’s a huge and busy bazaar full of artists painting and drawing. A lot of them paint small ones like the picture above. This artist sold her works for €30 a piece, and if I had a lot of money that time, I would’ve bought a work or two… she was really good!

And of course, the famous Moulin Rouge… maybe someday I’ll go there, but frack €98 a show?! Yes, definitely next time… in the distant future haha.

And the super awesome, beautiful, and majestic Sacré Cœur. It was full of people inside so I didn’t stay long. And also, the steps are full of people because there was this duo who sang English songs and everyone else by the steps were singing along with them. It was fantastic, and it gave me goosebumps!

Et bien sûr, the view from the top of the hill. It was very uplifting and inspirational. If only it wasn’t so crowded… haha. I’m not very good with crowds :P

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Faye

Faye

A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena

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  1. Patricia says

    Nice review, Faye! It sucks it didn’t live up to its potential. I also don’t like it when the setting isn’t given details. I don’t like info-dump, but there has to at least be enough details for it to avoid the lackluster. I’m so jealous you went to France! hopefully somehow i’ll go there too.

    • FayeFaye says

      Thank you so much, Patricia! Indeed, it’s not nice if you can’t picture anything. And it’s Paris! PARIS! There are so much to say about Paris.

  2. says

    I haven’t read this one, but I can see why the book frustrated you. It sounds like everything that you were looking forward to were the aspects the book most failed to meet. If it is set in a different place, then the setting should be described more vividly, or more in depth – readers will buy the book for that very reason, and if it’s a tad wordy, then you’ll have pleased those who wanted the details, and those who didn’t will just skim past. Your pictures of France are beautiful. I was in Paris for only a few days – when I went inside the Sacre Couer, a man told me to cover up. I wasn’t wearing anything scandalous, but my blouse was a tad low-cut. I don’t remember any singing people around the stairs, but that sounds absolutely delightful :D.

    • FayeFaye says

      Yes, exactly. I don’t know, maybe I’m quite biased because I love France and Art so much, so that’s why I was deeply disappointed. This has gotten me thinking — if I was more into romance, would I have given this a higher rating? Highly likely, but still, the lack of details of the setting and the artworks would be tantamount to an absence of the worldbuilding.

  3. says

    Convenient endings- BLEH. Hate them so much, pretty much can make me think differently about a book. Awesome pics!

    Lovely review, Faye! I think I’m avoiding this one from now on. <33

  4. says

    Aww boo I was hoping for an epic Paris setting! It’s actually one of the only reasons I grabbed this one at BEA lol. Oh wells, I guess I’ll know what to expect now. The ending sounds boring, to me, too. Gah.

    • FayeFaye says

      If you’re hoping for an epic Paris setting, you’ll be disappointed heavily. Nothing very Parisian about this, except maybe a pastry name or two lol

  5. says

    Your France photos are awesome. I want to go there someday. You are super lucky that you got to. I am so sorry this book let you down. I have an ARC and I loved her other book so I was really looking forward to Starry Nights but my expectations have been lowered a lot.

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