Review of Waking Olivia

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you pick up a book that immediately lures you into its world. Waking Olivia, a new adult novel by Elizabeth O’Roark, is such a book.

Olivia, a troubled girl who once seemed destined for track stardom, has lost her scholarship to her Division 1 school and is now at a lower division school in a smaller town. She brings with her lots of baggage and a police record. Olivia comes across as pugnacious initially, but it’s a defense mechanism that masks vulnerability and conscientiousness. She is sarcastically funny, which made reading this book a treat.

cover88532-mediumWill is the young track coach who is trying to keep his parents’ farm in the family after the death of his father and is working to give his younger brother the carefree education that he had received. The last thing he wants and needs is Olivia Finnegan, who is not only troubled but beautiful.

When Olivia and Will meet, sparks fly, and despite themselves they find they are quickly attracted to each other. Nothing can happen between them though, because Will is Olivia’s coach and he could lose his job. However, that doesn’t stop him from being jealous when other boys and even his brother take notice of Olivia.

All of the characters in Waking Olivia have been written to avoid stereotypes, with the exception of Will’s girlfriend, Jessica, who turns jealous, scheming, manipulative, and vengeful when it seems she might be losing Will. The other characters for the most part are likable or, at least, believable, especially Will’s mother, Dorothy, and his younger brother, Brendan.

So, you have a new adult novel with a progressing romance, so why not throw in a mystery? It works. The mystery in this case is what is going on with Olivia? What is she hiding? Why is she living the way she is? You’re not finding any spoilers here, but suffice to say the climax brings it all together.

Now, unfortunately, what kept this from being a great book for me was the fact that the book went on too long after the climax and tried to have another, shorter climax, which felt, well, anti-climatic. There’s a reason why books pretty much end after the summation at the end of the climax and that’s typically based on the reader’s emotional reaction to the climax. If the writer has done a good job, the reader is happy and then there’s The End. If the writer chooses to go on, the following should be a bigger, more wrought climax followed by a summation, etc.

And then there was an epilogue. I don’t mind epilogues, by which I mean I’m apathetic toward them. A lot of romance books seem to find them necessary, as if you didn’t already guess that there was supposed to be a happy ending. Epilogues seem to be the author’s way of saying, I know you love these characters as much as I did writing them and look how wonderful everything turned out because they now have 2.5 children! Joy, joy. Huh, maybe I don’t like epilogues for romance books.

After these last two paragraphs, it might seem like I’m itching to give this book a bad to average review, which isn’t the case. The points I brought up are actually the reasons why I didn’t give it a 4 1/2-5 rating, which I really thought it was on its way to when the story swept me up so completely. This just goes to show how important endings are.

This book gets 4 out of 5 on the heat index–and the heat is very well written. There is language that some might find offensive.

I received this book from NetGalley for an honest review. Waking Olivia was published on March 13, 2016.

From Amazon: Waking Olivia

Rating:butterflybutterflybutterflybutterfly (4 out of 5 butterflies)

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