“Preparing to survive a typical day of being Digbys friend wasn’t that different from preparing to survive the apocalypse.”
Title: Trouble is a Friend of Mine
Author: Stephanie Tromly
Publication: August 4th 2015 by Kathy Dawson Books
Source: Publisher at ALA
Summary from Goodreads:
But before she knows it, Zoe’s allowed Digby—annoying, brilliant, and somehow…attractive? Digby—to drag her into a series of hilarious, dangerous, and only vaguely legal schemes all related to the kidnapping of a local teenage girl. A kidnapping that might be connected to the tragic disappearance of his little sister eight years ago. When it comes to Digby, Zoe just can’t say no.
But is Digby a hero? Or is his manic quest an indication of a desperate attempt to repair his broken family and exorcise his own obsessive-compulsive tendencies? And does she really care anyway?
This is a contemporary debut with razor-sharp dialogue, ridiculously funny action, and a dynamic duo you won’t soon forget.
Trouble is a Friend of Mine was strange. I don’t really know how else to say that. It wasn’t bad, it was just strange. It had a strange premise, it had a strange beginning, and it sure as hell had a strange ending. Getting the picture yet? The book wasn’t bad, I still found myself really enjoying some parts, it just seemed really far out there for a Young Adult contemporary novel.
I will say this, though, the strangeness of the book turned it into a wildly outrageous journey with a lot of laughs along the way. Some of the situations they get into in this book, and just some of the characters, are so unconventional and far our there that I couldn’t help but give myself over to the insanity and enjoy it. The plot is crazy, there is no break between events, everything flies right by you at the speed of a damn fighter jet and the only way to keep up is to just take it and keep rolling. It didn’t let me think, it didn’t let me pause or take a break, it just took me on a crazy ass adventure that – by the end of the book – I wasn’t sure if I wanted it to end.
As for the characters, our protagonist was the stereotypical daughter of divorced parents that likes one more than the other etc. Zoe Webster’s parents have just divorced, which forces her to move to small town that is completely unbearable to the little New York City princess. As I am sure you can tell, I didn’t really like her. I wanted to like her, I always hate it when I dislike the protagonist, the person who we are mainly supposed to sympathize with and stick with through what ever happens in the book, but I wanted to hit Zoe with a chair. She just came across as ungrateful, snobby, and sometimes a downright bitch. I don’t even know how to describe how much I hate people who are ungrateful for what their parents do for them, I think it is one of my biggest pet peeves. I was also extremely annoyed by the fact that she believed that moving to a public high school was going to be the death of her chances of getting into this preppy, private school that I can’t even remember the name of because I have a habit of blocking out painful memories. When she gets to this new high school, she doesn’t even try to make friends because she figures that she will be leaving soon enough that it won’t matter and that anyone she meets will just drag her down. Suddenly, though, her nefarious plans to remain a closed off bitch are thwarted when Digby shows up at her front door – bless his heart.
As we can see from the title, her friend is supposedly a huge trouble maker – which I guess is true. I loved Digby, I liked him a lot more than Zoe did. His quirkiness was adorable, his story was heartbreaking, and I love him simply for the fact that he put up with Zoe’s crap and snobbishness. There is this weird thing about Digby, though. Contrary to our usual statements of trouble finding someone or following them, Digby actively hunts down whatever trouble he can get to – though he has his reasons, we have no idea what they are usually until after everything has gone down or he lets it slip. Here is the funny thing, whenever Digby causes trouble, he always has a reason behind it. He has a motive and something he wants to accomplish, be it gaining new information or distracting someone so someone else can get the information for him. He isn’t a bad person in the slightest, he takes care of the people he cares about all while simultaneously trying to push them away to protect them. He protects his friend from being bullied at school, he protects Zoe from whatever trouble he thinks she can’t handle on her own – he is inherently good, and it really was quite adorable.
One thing I do want to point out is that this book starts right in the thick of things. We have no introduction, nothing. We are instantly introduced to present day Zoe trying to break into a house that is wired with enough explosives to rival an explosion from a Mission Impossible movie. We get no explanation, nothing beyond that all of this is somehow connected to Digby – and then we are suddenly thrust back into the past/present for the most of the book where Zoe is first meeting Digby. I guess this plays into another problem I had with the book, the startling amount of inconsistency.
Now, in all honesty, I am half way between hating this book and actually liking it – which leaves me on the cusp of tolerating this beast. I really wanted to like it, and there were parts that I really enjoyed, but for the most part, I found myself growing increasingly annoyed. The writing was one of the biggest issues I had besides the protagonist and what I will explain in the next paragraph. The writing was choppy, there was no consistency with the novel. It was all far too erratic, there was absolutely no clarity. I don’t know if this was done on purpose to convey the uncertainty that Zoe felt around Digby or for some other reason, but it just didn’t work for me. It wasn’t just small inconsistencies, either. Sure, there were small jumps during conversations and descriptions of events that made no sense, but what I am talking about is the complete abandonment of certain thoughts and feelings as if they never existed in the first place. Characters would start something, maybe a conversation, an idea, an action, and then they would instantly switch their focus to something else and leave me in the dust going “what the hell?”.
My second problem, was something that infuriated me beyond words and I couldn’t figure out how to say nicely. Look at the two quotes below, what does that make you feel?
“Who knew a sixteen-year-old boy who wasn’t a werewolf fighting sparkly vampires could have a six pack of abs?” – 144
“Well, it’s really Isabel but yuck, right? Ever since that movie-that-must-not-be-named, Isabel, Isabella, Bella… no, just no,” – 157
My biggest issue, as I have pointed out above, was the fact that this book felt it necessary to make fun of others – specifically Twilight. We get it, the movies were bad compared to the books, but making fun of it is so overdone now. Frankly, it distracted me from the rest of the book. Sure I have seen it done before, Vampire Academy made fun of Twilight in the movie and Vampire Diaries did as well during its first season on television – but this book had nothing to do with vampires, just regular teenagers. And I know, freedom of speech and all that jazz, but bashing another author’s work – even just the movies based off of their work – makes me want to put the book down and stop reading. Writing is a hard industry, some people make it and some don’t, but don’t try to boost yourself up by tearing down another author’s success.
Please don’t take all of this the wrong way, just because some things made me extremely angry and annoyed doesn’t mean that this book is horrible, it just means that it wasn’t for me. I encourage you to try it out for yourself, rent it from your library or borrow it from a friend if you are unsure, I could be completely crazy and the only one that feels this way about the book (yay for unpopular opinions!).