Wednesday, February 15, 2017

TBR Challenge: Aly Martinez - Fighting Silence

I've always been a fighter. With parents who barely managed to stay out of jail and two little brothers who narrowly avoided foster care, I became skilled at dodging the punches life threw at me. Growing up, I didn’t have anything I could call my own, but from the moment I met Eliza Reynolds, she was always mine. I became utterly addicted to her and the escape from reality we provided each other. Throughout the years, she had boyfriends and I had girlfriends, but there wasn't a single night that I didn’t hear her voice.
You see, meeting the love of my life at age thirteen was never part of my plan. However, neither was gradually going deaf at the age of twenty-one.
They both happened anyway.
Now, I'm on the ropes during the toughest battles of my life.
Fighting for my career. Fighting the impending silence. Fighting for her.
Every night, just before falling asleep, she sighs as a final conscious breath leaves her.
I think that's the sound I'll miss the most.

Comment: Time flies and here we are again, with another TBR challenge book. This month the theme is new-to-you-author and, as always, this is one of the easiest themes for me because I do have many books to read by unknown authors. This book is the first in the On the Ropes trilogy, it was also a recommendation and has a good average score on Goodreads. I thought it would be a good read for me, even more because it features a hero that would go deaf. I really wanted to see that play out. But in the end the story ended up a bit meh for me.

In this story we meet quite the cast of characters, being the main one Till Page, a kid that has grown up in an unloving house, he took care of his younger brothers and his only escape was an abandoned apartment he went in through a window One day, he finds there a young girl, Eliza, also running from her uncaring parents. That turns into their personal heaven and they become friends but at school they never talk and Till pretends Eliza doesn't exist. As years go by, we see these two grow up and all the challenges they face, both physical and financially, and all things that help them, namely Till's love for boxing and the doors it opens up for him and how working for happiness is the lesson to learn...

Sometimes amazing recommendations and opinions and even some elements that we recognize as almost spot on to our personal tastes don't really make a perfect read. I liked some things about this book but it only went as far as average to me, especially because I can't not focus on the things I liked less. Maybe I let my opinion be colored by my tastes but it's still an opinion.

I'm not exactly a fan of NA, mostly because characters tend to act as teenagers anyway and that has become super annoying to me. In this book we have characters going through so many domestic situations they would grow up very fast and in some situations, that was shown, but in others not so much. I guess everyone has weak moments and less than stellar performances but... I found the investment in their mature personalities and behavior not always as consistent as that.

Another thing that was super, super annoying to me, at least, was the continuous change in time. We have some chapters, some parts of the story with them as children, then time moves on, then some more scenes, then another six months, then one year later, then five years, then some more months...I mean, we get glimpses of what they are doing and feeling in a specific moment but we don't stay there. I get it that we learn interesting things this way but it feels so unsettled, it's difficult to pinpoint the key scenes that matter if you have to focus on something else again. Each step has a purpose, I know it, made me lose focus and removed some of the angst I'm sure was part of the author's point here.

I liked some situations and I specifically liked how Till got his head straight because he had a passion and good manners and he worked hard to impress his boss who became a friend as well. The working relationship between Till and Slate and the secondary characters were probably what I liked the most. I also liked some emotional elements we learn from almost every character, even at a small scale and it's obvious the author has thought about all things but the structure just didn't win me over.

This book also shows a character that fights going deaf. I really expected most of the book to be focusing on that but no. It's something we see, it's dealt with but mostly towards the end. All those pages dedicated to the guy's childhood and teenage years can have interest but surely removed attention from we are supposed to get and to me, this was a pity.

The romance...well I don't have any special opinion on this, I think we have many scenes with them to know they love each other but honestly I never felt I was reading about Eliza the way I was about Till. He is clearly the focus and she almost looks like a sidekick. Besides the fact she is nice, they like her, she is an artist who worked accountant and hated it, she wasn't as well developed.
We also have Eliza and Till as the narrators throughout the book. This allows us to get a reading on them but I admit I usually prefer a third person narrator.

The next stories in the trilogy feature Till's brothers but I've peeked at some reviews and some of the issues I had seem to happen again in those books (namely in terms of writing and narrative structure). I'm still debating if I want to go through it all again. I feel some interest in the next one, considering the things we saw at the end of this book but...
Overall, this had interesting, good elements but some things in it didn't appeal to me and I'm sure it can to other readers but it just didn't make me want to keep reading and some parts also seemed a bit repetitive. It's not exactly bad but it wasn't the marvel I expected..or maybe I just didn't get into it well.
Grade: 5/10


  1. I have this one on my list. I picked it up for all the reasons you listed and I'm disappointed to read your review. I can see these are all things that would annoy me too. And I had such high hopes. Oh well...

    1. Hi!
      I just thought the characters would be more mature in some aspects and that didn't come across with the narrative and writing style. Maybe that was the problem for me and it might work out for you?

  2. Good review! I'm the same way with NA -- some I like, but the immaturity can sometimes be too over the top.

    1. Yes and this case there are many strong issues that would support the character's development, but... it wasn't a consistent thing.