Everyone has heard the expression “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The phrase is very common, but it usually applies less to actual books and more to real-life people. And yes, when it comes to people, I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment; people are so much more than what they may appear to be on the outside. On the other hand, I completely judge books by their covers.
Let’s be real here. Ninety-nine percent of us are more likely to purchase or rent a novel if the cover is appealing. Otherwise, what is the point of a cover? In my opinion (why would you be reading this post if it wasn’t for my opinion?) a book cover should accomplish three tasks.
- Catch a potential reader’s eye
- Properly represent the contents of the book without spoiling the plot
- Be aesthetically pleasing
The first two points seem like common sense, but the third point is largely subjective. Different types of covers may appeal to different kinds of people. That’s where What’s a Soulmate by Lindsey Ouiment comes into focus.
I was surfing through potential books on Amazon (No, Amazon.com does not sponsor me but a girl can dream) and saw this cover. I instantly fell in love with the cover, and upon reading the synopsis, I snatched this book up so fast my wallet didn’t have time to feel the pain.
Here is the synopsis from Amazon.com:
Libby Carmichael has just met her Soulmate. It’s just too bad he’s behind bars. When you only see the world in black and white until you meet yours, it’s pretty easy to figure out when you’ve found your Soulmate. What Libby can’t figure out is why fate, destiny, or the powers that be have decided that Andrew McCormack is her one, true match. Libby is smart, organized, and always has a plan for what’s coming next. So when she sees Andrew for the first time and her world is instantly filled with color, she’s thrown for a loop. Namely because he’s in a dingy grey jumpsuit. And handcuffs. And being booked into a juvenile detention facility. Surely a boy who’s been convicted of a headline-making, violent crime isn’t who she’s meant to be with. There’s no way she belongs with someone like that…right?
Now, I usually stick with fantasy/Sci-fi/historical fiction, but I can read anything. The synopsis had just enough mystery and freshness that I went into this book fairly optimistic. Did it disappoint? No.
Plot: Usually when I attempt to discuss the plot of the book (or any other part, for that matter), I have to be very careful to just barely toe the line between basic information and spoiler territory. The entire purpose of a book review is to determine whether or not to grab the book for yourself. A recommendation to skip, tentatively rent, or flat-out buy. Spoiling without warning, with a few exceptions, may take away from another reader’s surprise or enjoyment. With What’s a Soulmate by Lindsey Ouimet, I don’t really have to worry about that.
There is nothing in this book that will surprise you. Absolutely nothing. There is no plot twist, misinformation, or secret revelation that will change how you see the universe. Nope. This is a simple story that follows a linear path to its conclusion. Does that mean that this book is trash? HELL NO.
The plot is a simple girl-meets-boy story with a few twists that keep the story fresh and interesting. The simplicity is its greatest asset, as this book knows exactly what it is trying to be, and it does this beautifully. Beyond that, the enjoyment of this book lies firmly with the character cast.
Libby: I was not expecting to like this character as much as I did. She initially seemed to be just about the opposite of my personality. However, she turned out to be an awesome main character. I followed all of her motivations and understood exactly what she was feeling without rolling my eyes or gagging. Her interactions with Andrew were amazing and seemed so genuine. Libby never seemed to pull crap out of her ass just for reader shock value (I’m looking at you Sarah J. Maas) and in general felt so real. While I was reading, I believed that I could walk down Columbus Ave in NYC and find someone similar to her. Her downright believability and realism added to the soul of the book in a monumental way.
Andrew: I was expecting to dislike Andrew from the synopsis. While I know I shouldn’t have immediately made these assumptions, characters in his shoes can so easily fall into the tragic, misunderstood, emo bullshit that I have had the displeasure of reading for too many years. Characters like that can be entertaining, but too often end up missing the mark by a long shot. Andrew was a very happy surprise. Much like Libby, most of his actions have their rational justifications and his personality complements Libby’s very nicely. Towards the middle of the book, some of his actions lost this rationality and he became a little cliched. I still enjoyed his character, especially when he was interacting with Libby, but not as much as I did before.
Beth: I’ve never been too fond of the “best friend” character. You all know the type. That said, I did enjoy this character. She was not a huge player in the actual story, but she did work well off Libby and had a few quirks to differentiate herself from the crowd.
Libby’s Parents: Finally, parents who aren’t dead or assholes. Or dead assholes. Throughout the book, Libby’s parents are very supportive of her yet allow for Libby to be relatively independent. Overall, they felt realistic and wholesome and I never rolled my eyes whenever they entered a scene.
Andrew’s Mother: Alright, touchy subject. Also a tad bit spoilery, but not really. Even so, I’ll add a bolded and capitalized warning to cover my ass. (SPOILERS AHEAD). Once we find out more details about Andrew’s crime, we also find out that Andrew’s mother is being psychologically abused. I am by no means an expert in the area of domestic abuse, but I thought that her character was well done and fairly realistic. Ouimet does not dumb her character down to a “but I love him” argument, especially not once we know about the children involved. Andrew’s mother understands her situation is not right, and she understands that she is putting both of her sons through hell. Despite that, she cannot fully leave her soulmate (Andrew’s father) behind (END OF SPOILERS). Throughout the book, my feelings towards this character ranged from pity to disgust to pride. While definitely not my favorite character, Andrew’s mother and her motivations are perfectly understandable and perfectly displayed.
Writing: I am so sick of writers including pointless shit in their books just to make the story seem more “edgy”. Or “developed”. Or “deep”. A good author knows exactly what to include, when to introduce plot elements, and how to trim the fat off a bloated story. Lindsey Ouimet follows this process to the freaking letter. Everything in this book has a purpose, moving the relatively simple story to its final conclusion.
Ouimet also masterfully composes descriptions that make scenes akin to watching paint dry become fascinating. I swear, she could write about histograms and I would instantly be enthralled. In What’s a Soulmate she takes the basic framework of the story and weaves complex, realistic emotions into the characters to create a beautiful, soulful piece. Lindsey Ouimet, you just found yourself another fan.
Cover: Absolutely gorgeous! I mean, just look at it. Credits to the designer, Jay Aheer.
Confession time: This is one of my all-time favorite covers, no doubt about it. The design grabs your attention and aptly describes the book’s contents. Damn.
I do have one nitpick, however. The title. While not misleading, per se, I don’t feel that the title does the book justice. All the characters already know and understand the concept of soulmates, so the title is more for the readers’ benefit than anything. Despite that very minor detail, the cover is amazing.
This book was a joy to read, one that I wholeheartedly recommend. While it is no literary masterpiece or huge and engaging universe, What’s a Soulmate by Lindsey Ouimet accomplished what it set out to do in the best way possible.