Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: The Probability of Miracles by Wendy Wunder

Title: The Probability of Miracles
Author: Wendy Wunder
Pages: 336
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: December 8, 2011
Dry, sarcastic, sixteen-year-old Cam Cooper has spent the last seven years in and out hospitals. The last thing she wants to do in the short life she has left is move 1,500 miles away to Promise, Maine - a place known for the miraculous events that occur there. But it's undeniable that strange things happen in Promise: everlasting sunsets; purple dandelions; flamingoes in the frigid Atlantic; an elusive boy named Asher; and finally, a mysterious envelope containing a list of things for Cam to do before she dies. As Cam checks each item off the list, she finally learns to believe - in love, in herself, and even in miracles.

A debut novel from an immensely talented new writer, The Probability of Miracles crackles with wit, romance and humor and will leave readers laughing and crying with each turn of the page.

My Thoughts: This is mostly what I kept thinking while reading the book: 'Hmm...' Which equaled other sentences like 'When am I going to get hooked to this story?' and 'I'm not feeling it.' Basically this book didn't quite do it for me. I really wanted to like it. In fact, I was hoping to LOVE it. But it didn't happen. I didn't hate it though. I thought it was just okay.

The Probability of Miracles reminded me in a way of an Australian young-adult title I read last month: Girl Saves Boy by Steph Bowe. Both are quirky, both have main characters who've had cancer since childhood and have a dead parent, and both even have a "Let's save a lobster!" scene (which was totally weird because what are the odds of that happening in both books?). But I liked Girl Saves Boy a bit better, although there wasn't enough closure in that one. Unlike that book, I couldn't connect with the characters or the story in The Probability of Miracles.

For the past several years of her life, sixteen-year-old Campbell (or Cam) Cooper has been fighting a battle with cancer, and after a recent visit to her doctor, it's not looking good. With the little time she has left, Cam decides she wants to do some of the things on her Flamingo List, a list she created a year earlier of all the rebellious things she wanted to do. Cam manages to complete some before her mother takes her and her younger sister on a road trip to Promise, Maine in search of a miracle. It is there in the mysterious and almost magical town of Promise that Cam meets and falls for a guy named Asher, completes her Flamingo List and creates a new one, and finds her miracle.

As I mentioned, I didn't have a connection with the characters. Cam was dry and sarcastic, and while I usually like that in a character, I never REALLY warmed up to her. And I felt like I never really knew the other characters. This was a problem because it resulted in me not being able to become emotionally invested in the story. The story was about cancer and death and miracles, and I needed that emotional connection in order to feel for the characters and understand their actions. But sadly, I couldn't get myself to become invested in that way.

I thought some things were rushed. The romance between Cam and Asher wasn't developed enough. Or maybe I didn't feel anything for it. Or maybe it was both. Either way I felt like it happened, like most of the things in this book, just so that Cam could experience what she hasn't yet been able to and probably won't be able to. I also thought some of the events that occurred were weird and random. I think the story was suppose to be bizarre (what with the town of Promise being sort of "magical" with the purple dandelions, flamingos in Maine, Killer Whales in the bay, etc.), but it was almost too bizarre. I honestly started to think that Cam was actually in a hospital bed dying and having an extravagant hallucination or dream.

So, it was a bit strange. I may not have felt much for the story or the characters, but here's what I really liked about The Probability of Miracles:
  • The cover! The font is cool, the girl is beautiful, and the pink is HOT. It fit the story.
  • Cam is half Samoan and half Italian. She gets her looks from the Samoan side of her family, and her Polynesian heritage was integrated into the story.
  • There was a road trip. From Orlando, Florida to Promise, Maine. They stopped in South Carolina, North Carolina, and New Jersey.
  • A whole chapter dedicated to a tourist trap Cam and her family stopped at in South Carolina called South of the Border! Have you guys ever been there? I have. A couple of times. It's not that I enjoy going there (it's gross and offensive and probably the CREEPIEST place I've ever been to), but it's something I'm a bit familiar with. And I thought it was hilarious that it was in this book. Here are some pictures of that place:

Notice the flamingo in the night shot on the left? ;) The bottom
picture is one of the MANY billboards found along the interstate.
Note: I did not take these pictures. Found them online.

  • Writing in the ARC. It was fun. You should try it, especially if others are willing to read and write in your ARC. It made me want to finish reading it, and I was able to enjoy the story more. The picture on the right is what I wrote on the first page of chapter 12.
  • The last couple of paragraphs, especially the last few lines, in the book. Those finale words... I thought it was beautiful. And heartbreaking. I wish the entire book had been written like that because it got a reaction out of me. It really made me feel for Cam and all the people who love her.

Overall, I didn't love or hate The Probability of Miracles. It was an okay read. Even though it wasn't what I was hoping it would be, I'm sure other readers will like it. I've already seen some who've read it and really liked it, and I think those who are still curious should give this book a read and make up their own mind about it. It's something you have to experience yourself.

Rating: 3 - 3.5 out of 5 stars
Thanks to Penguin & LibraryThing for the ARC!

1 comment:

  1. Oo half-Samoan, definitely a heritage I know zilch about it so seeing that incorporated into the story would be interesting.

    There seem to be quite a few YA books featuring main characters with cancer or a loved one having cancer but I've actually only read one. I wonder if they all blend together...the cover is definitely appealing and enough to make me want to try The Probability of Miracles! But this review makes me think I should wait

    By the way thanks for joining the poc reading challenge!