Nose Graze — Young Adult book reviewsThis review is so incredibly difficult for me to write. To a certain extent, I did enjoy Vain, but especially near the end things started to really drop off for me.First, I'm going to start off with the synopsis. It's not really a great indicator of what the book is actually about.. so I'll break it down for you really quickly:[plot]The first ~15% of the book is introducing us to Sophie the bitch. But even at that point in the book she starts to doubt who she is and her behaviour. I feel like we don't actually get *that* much seeing her as a bitch. Then, strike #2 with cocaine lands her in Uganda, Africa, helping out at a children's orphanage. This is her 'punishment' instead of going to jail. She's sentenced to work there for 6 months. This is where the bulk of the story takes place. Almost immediately, Sophie begins to change into a more selfless, kind human being... but wait! There's a hot guy there waiting for her to sweep her off her feet.[/plot]For me, there were two big problems with this book, and I guess they do kind of connect a little.First, it feels like it was written by an author. So much of the dialogue didn't feel natural; it felt like an author was writing it, with slightly better word choice than a normal teenager, word diversity, proper language, etc. There was fancy speech, metaphors, elaborate monologues, and just few bits of word choice that screamed unnatural to me. And then there was the way that Sophie was so aware of her emotions and actions.. it felt unrealistic. In the beginning, she—a little too clearly—identified that she didn't sleep around and do cocaine because she wanted to; she did it because she wanted attention from her father. I feel like people who do that don't admit it to themselves, or aren't aware of why they act out. Then, later in the book, she too clearly acknowledged that the kids had changed her. I felt like it was too much of her monologuing about how she'd been changed, rather than just showing us.Adding onto that, the 'life lessons' and 'messages' in this book are practically shoved down my throat. I didn't feel like Sophie slowly and naturally progressed from the rich spoiled brat she was to the selfless girl who cared about orphans. It seemed pretty sudden. But then she started monologuing about how much she changed, and what a bad person she was, and I could just feel it being shoved in my face at every opportunity.And this was my new epiphany. Men wanted me. They did, however briefly, but none of them wanted to keep me. That's what I needed. I needed to be owned, loved. But not by a man. I knew then that I never needed to be kept by a man. What I needed was to love myself, to want to keep myself around. And in that revelation, I knew that if I wanted to keep myself, that a man wanting to keep me would just be a by-product. Who wouldn't want to keep someone who respected himself or herself?—Vain by Fisher Amelie, page 188I'd come to Uganda to fulfill a mandatory sentence but it was being fulfilled in a completely unexpected manner and happily, with my full consent. I'd come to help teach these children but instead they were teaching me.—Vain by Fisher Amelie, page 240"You're in serious need of a makeover," Victoria added, her fingernails outlining a box around my face."I've just had one," I implied, referring to my heart and soul.—Vain by Fisher Amelie, page 339Is it just me? Or are these just so blaringly obvious? I mean, given the average star rating on Goodreads (4.42 stars, 8,100+ ratings), most people weren't bothered by this. But I read it and I just felt like it was all being shoved down my throat. Every other line was, "I can't believe what a selfish person I was," "This experience has really changed me!" And I get that it was a pretty big and intense experience, but I feel like the best books are the ones that have those intense life-changing moments and lessons, but they are quietly and subtly woven into the book—not completely in your face. Prime example: My Life After Now by Jessica Verdi. The book is a caution to unsafe sex, but there is no constant, in-your-face, "Use a condom" message. But at the end of the book, that's still the message you have. But the book didn't tell it to you, you just know it by the end. Unfortunately, Vain doesn't do that. I felt like Sophie was constantly telling me what message I was supposed to take away from her experience.I also feel that I should caution you about the romance. It wasn't a horrible romance, but it was.. interesting. It starts off with lust at first sight. It's not exactly insta-love, but it's more like, "Omg I have a primal connection to this guy. I want to fuck his brains out, but I also feel some kind of strong connection I've never felt towards anyone else." They don't jump straight into love after that, but things seriously start out STRONG. From there it does transition into a "hate" relationship because he think she's a spoiled brat and she's afraid he hates her.. And things slowly build up over time. So, again, it's not insta-love, but there was still that 'instant attraction' thing.Overall this wasn't a bad book. I mostly did enjoy reading it, but when the 'message' stuff got amped up in frequency towards the end, I really lost my enjoyment of the book. I almost feel bad that this review is so negative but I didn't hate the book.. I just had some pretty big problems with it towards the end and that's suddenly all I can think of to talk about.But seriously, so many people love Vain so maybe you should give it a chance. Be prepared for an intense romance, a life-changing experience, and some pretty sad scenes with murders/maiming in Uganda.