Wednesday 19 July 2017

Girl Off The Gird, Jillian Dodd

Life is made up of moments. Moments that define you, change you, and test you.

NYC fashion blogger, Camille Caldwell, gets offered a dream job by her favorite magazine. They’re going to send her on an all-expenses paid eco-trip to Costa Rica. She doesn’t know what that means, but she assumes she’ll wear fabulous clothes, sip PiƱa Coladas on the beach, and have her photo taken “out in nature.” Really, the hardest part of the assignment will be giving up social media while she’s gone.

Going off social media is no big deal for London-based wildlife photographer, Adam Lloyd. The only reason he even has an account is to share his photos with the world. He’s thrilled when an international publication wants to hire him, until he finds out it’s a fashion magazine. He decides to take the job anyway—after all, it will be great for his portfolio. But the minute he sees Camille, he knows it was a mistake. She has too much luggage, is too high maintenance, and way too pretty.

* * 
2 / 5 

I'm a blogger, so occasionally I read books about bloggers. With a character like Camille Caldwell, rich girl, fashion vlogger, and "anti-nature" person, I knew a book like Girl Off The Grid could either be well-researched, nuanced, and interesting, or it could be fluffy, cute with the world's most predictable romance, and Camille could be annoying as hell. I hoped for the former but got the latter; if that's your kind of book, then go you, but it wasn't mine.

Camille is a rich girl in New York, on summer break from university where she studies university and spends her time with people who have names like Lexington. In her spare time she runs a video blog centred around makeup and fashion; unfortunately, there's not a lot of time devoted to her blog, which I would have been interested in reading more about. For some reason, she's selected by a famous fashion blog to go on an all expenses paid trip to Costa Rica, and produce some sort of fashion/tourism/environment article at the end. 

"I'm not afraid of her. I just hate everything she embodies, if that's even possible." 

Adam Lloyd wants to be a wildlife photographer but hesitantly accepts the job to take photos for Camille's article after advice from his parents. He thinks taking photographs for a fashion magazine is degrading and doesn't think he'll be able to stand Camille because she's pretty and like clothes. I didn't like him from about two pages in. Their relationship is a very predictable dislike to kiss progression - he instantly dislikes her because she brings a massive suitcase on the trip, then starts waxing lyrical about how beautiful she is. She thinks he's gorgeous but stuck up and oogles him all the time, blah blah blah.

The book flicks between Adam and Camille's points of view and I found them both equally irritating; they're supposed to be around twenty, I presume being university aged, but act like fifteen year olds with a first crush. What time isn't devoted to their romance is on the trip; I don't know anything about Costa Rica but Dodd seems to have done her research. Perhaps too much. Whilst I liked hearing about mangrove trees and turtle nesting habits, I didn't want to hear a lecture on the subject. Some pages read like informative exhibits at a zoo or museum, lines of facts about animals and the environment. 

"Oh my gosh. It's my first day here and I hate it! Don't get me started on the freaking photographer I was assigned. He's rude, his hair is a mess, and he has this ridiculous scruff I mean, okay, so even though he is not my type, he did have a nice tan chest"

The travel aspect of the book was fun and I liked the little bits about Adam's experiences as a photographer and how Camille ran her blog. But I couldn't stand either character; Camille was such a cliche: loves her hair, screams at bugs, hates camping and mud, and she was so variable. She'd have a great day of hiking and enjoy meeting people and then in her nightly video log would cry about how much she hates Costa Rica and the food is horrible and how much her life sucks, it was bizarre. Adam isn't much better. 

I'd genuinely recommend Girl Off The Grid to the younger teen looking for a quick, light read. Camille's a nice girl, she's just not an interesting character, and Adam's the typical romance boy. But there's hardly any depth here, in terms of character or plot or considerations about ecotourism or nature or anything the book might have critically examined. 

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this book. 

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