Review: Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney

Monday, July 8, 2013
Title: Starry Nights
Author: Daisy Whitney
Genre: young adult, supernatural
Series: N/A
Pages: 288
Published: expected September 3 2013
Source: publishers via NetGalley
Rating: 2/5

Seventeen-year-old Julien is a romantic—he loves spending his free time at the museum poring over the great works of the Impressionists. But one night, a peach falls out of a Cezanne, Degas ballerinas dance across the floor, and Julien is not hallucinating.

The art is reacting to a curse that trapped a beautiful girl, Clio, in a painting forever. Julien has a chance to free Clio and he can't help but fall in love with her. But love is a curse in its own right. And soon paintings begin to bleed and disappear. Together Julien and Clio must save the world's greatest art . . . at the expense of the greatest love they've ever known.

Like a master painter herself, Daisy Whitney brings inordinate talent and ingenuity to this romantic, suspenseful, and sophisticated new novel.A beautifully decorated package makes it a must-own in print.

I really wanted to love this novel. It has all the things that ostensibly, I should love: Paris? Paintings that come alive? Some interesting uses of mythology? A feminist twist? An author that has been garnering more and more acclaim and attention? But sadly for me, Starry Nights never panned out or impressed me. Honestly, if Starry Nights wasn't such a short, simple, and easily digestible novel, I doubt whether I would have finished. All I can really say is that this is another case of "it's not you, it's me" because I can bet that there will be vast love for it. While I can understand that, I just can't take part in it.

It's not that Starry Nights is a bad book. It's not. It just never really clicked for me. I was utterly indifferent to the characters, the writing was serviceable but nothing to take not of, the romance didn't interest me, and the plot... well, the plot reminded me of a toned down, less suspenseful Darker Still and Night at the Museum. I didn't care about Julien, or Clio, or what kept their love apart. The one character that did generate some interest, Bonheur, isn't around nearly enough to make up for the vacuum of personality that is Julien, or the vapid nature of his love Clio. 

When I wasn't bored or disinterested... I was chagrined at the sheer amount of cheese in the love story. It's just badly written, even for a seventeen year old and a girl caught in a painting for 130 years. I mean "She was a revolution and she staged a coup d'etat in my heart"? Really? Really? That line is so full of cheese, it should be a twelve-foot sub. And falling in love with a painting, even before he saw her come to life? My nineties self wants to say: Puh-lease.

As for the promised feminist twist, well, I heard more about it than I saw in the pages of the novel. Suzanne Valadon is important to the plot, and her struggles as a female painter in a male-dominated world are far more interesting than is shown here. And for a novel set in Paris, the city of love and art!, Whitney neglects her setting to focus on the saccharine romance, to the novel's detriment.

I don't have a lot to say about this book, because, for me, it didn't have a lot to offer. A shallow amusement for two hours, I can't say I walked away from Starry Nights feeling much of anything at all. It was more tedious than romantic, silly rather than compelling. I will still seek out other Daisy Whitney novels, but I won't expect so much from them.

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