ARC Review: The Cutting Room Floor by Dawn Klehr

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Rating: 2.5 / 5
Title: The Cutting Room Floor
Author: Dawn Klehr
Genres: Young adult, mystery, thriller, romance
Expected Publication: October 8, 2013
Publisher: Flux
Number of pages: 336
Source: ARC from Netgalley
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Behind-the-scenes secrets could turn deadly for Desmond and Riley

Life in the Heights has never been easy for seventeen-year-old Riley Frost, but when she’s publicly dumped and outed at the same time, she becomes an immediate social outcast at her high school. So Riley swears off romance and throws herself into solving the shocking murder of her favorite teacher, Ms. Dunn.

Riley turns to her best friend, budding filmmaker Desmond Brandt, for help. What she doesn’t know is that Dez has been secretly directing her life, blackmailing her friends, and hoping his manipulations will make her love him. When his schemes go too far, Dez’s web of lies threatens to destroy both of their lives.

REVIEW

If this book could be summed up in one sentence, it would be this: it’s all over the place. I swear, it is. What could have been an interesting and intriguing novel turned out to be a mess of many dilemmas and problems, and throughout reading it, I wasn’t 100% sure what kind of book it was supposed to be. Mystery? Romance? Psychological? About finding and accepting your sexuality? A bit of this and a bit of that? Truthfully, I don’t mind reading a book about various themes, but it just bothered me how none of them was ever developed enough. The characters, the web of stories and intrigue, the dilemmas of the individuals… it tried so hard to incorporate it all that it all turned into one messy slop.

So, there are three main “stories” or points of interests in this book:

1.) Dez’s manipulation and blackmailing of Riley’s life in an attempt to make her love him.
2.) Riley trying to find her own sexuality. She got dumped by a boy, turned to girls, got turned down again, and is now in an identity crisis.
3.) A local teacher has been murdered, and Riley wants to find out who did it.

Pretty heavy stuff, if you ask me. They’re not even substories. It would have been possible, yes — I’ve seen books that juggled a lot of stuff before and they worked, believe it or not, but this one simply lacked the execution to make it deliver.

POI #1 – The Controlling Madman

I really couldn’t appreciate Dez as a character. He’s demanding and wants everything to go according to how he wants it to go, making him controlling as heck, to the point of trying to manipulate the events of Riley’s life to steer her towards him. I didn’t like him… at all. It’s a bit weird because the book made him turn out to be nicer than what he really is, as if making us like him despite his flaws, but it was just hard to do… no way am I going to empathize with someone who’d go through so much trouble just to control the life of the girl he supposedly loves.

And seriously, every time he tried to convince her she is straight, that she must be straight, and she couldn’t be any other way, my blood boiled. If you truly love her, why are you forcing her like this? It just weirded me out. I know it’s part of the story, and he does find the error of his ways later on, but still… he’s just unlikeable. It was kind of painful for me to go through his narration how he would do anything to make sure she goes according to his plans… I mean, it would be okay if he was kind of like the anti-hero and he gets serious repercussions for it later on, but no… we’re supposed to like him, to feel sorry for him, to cheer him, etc. etc. and IMO he got away easy.

POI #2 – The Identity Crisis

Now this is another part of the story that I think took up a lot of the scenes. Not only is Riley supposedly really pretty and really talented in acting, she’s also gay, but after the school finding out about it, she becomes the school’s outcast. Her scenes are a bit of her investigating the murder of her teacher, but a lot of it are also her insecurities and conflicted feelings regarding her sexuality. I think this aspect was unique, and not something you see in YA everyday, and while I don’t think it was executed excellently, it still did its job of portraying how it is when a person’s undergoing an identity crisis. It’s just sad that it had to be mixed up with a murder mystery that’s not only badly delivered but is also full of plotholes that stitches would prove to be impossible…

POI #3– The Murder Case

This one didn’t really make sense to me and why it was there. As other reviewers have stated, it felt like it was really important at the beginning because of how everyone seemed to be suspicious — from the students, to the best friends, to the side characters, to the mayor, etc. etc., making us feel there’s a more sinister theme working behind the scenes — and then, it simply vanished when we get to the middle part, only to randomly appear at the end with a “I’m back!” sign. It felt like a filler, to be honest, and the book wouldn’t really have turned any differently if this part of the story were gone.

And the plotholes! What happened to the stickers and stuff that were full of numbers for attorneys and the supposedly scandalous things about the mayor that were inside her picture frame? Why was her beloved book in the Devlin’s home? And when we do get to the part where we find out who was the killer, it left me feeling… nothing. Very empty. Not even a “Oooh, I didn’t see that coming” or a “Ooohh, I totally called that.” NO. I just didn’t care. Some of them may have been answered, but I was too tired to even be concerned about it…

All in all, it’s just a sad thing that this book struggled so many problems altogether, for it totally did that at the expense of execution and delivery. I couldn’t really pinpoint what kind of book it was, because it was all over the place. It was a decent read, but it definitely could have been better. Much better.

Final verdict: 2.5 stars

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review. This did not influence my thoughts in any way.

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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. lectus says

    Just point #2 would’ve been enough for a story. I’ve read books like this, they want to cover too much and don’t make a good job of covering the basic. What a shame because it has a great cove….!

    • FayeFaye says

      I know what you mean! I think point #2 could’ve been great, and it does coincide a bit with point #1, but still… with point #3 there it all just became sloppy. Very very sloppy :/

    • FayeFaye says

      Well spoiler alert, she still ends up as gay in the end… just a lot of identity crisis in the middle :p