The Death and Life of Charlie St. Cloud

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Author: Ben Sherwood
Publisher: Picador
Star Rating: 3/5
Date Read: August 8th to 10th, 2014
Read Count: 1
Review:
Don’t hate me for this, dear readers, but in this case I have to say – the Zac Efron movie was better than this book. I know, I know! It’s almost sacrilege. But, sadly, true. I can promise it doesn’t happen often.

Charlie and Sam St. Cloud are the closest of brothers, and when Sam dies in a tragic car accident their bond transcends the here and now to include the inbetween. Due to a promise made just before Charlie was shocked back to life, Sam now hangs between the present and the afterlife. Charlie is also stuck. Since he made his promise to Sam, Sam appears to him every night at sunset in the cemetery where he is buried and Charlie now lives as caretaker. They play catch, they swing, they swim in the river. Neither brother has yet been capable of moving on so they are stuck in the inbetween. Enter Tess Carroll, a sailor who makes Charlie question whether this is really what he wants.
Overall, the story premise was good. And this is why I liked one and not the other. The author had a good idea. Unfortunately, he butchered it with his writing. I’m not sure if it’s because I already knew the outcome, but I just wasn’t really interested while I was reading. I found there to be a lot of ‘telling’ as opposed to ‘showing’ and that a lot of the time I wasn’t reading about things that were happening, but instead things about the characters. I was rather bored and waiting for something to happen.

I couldn’t understand how and why Charlie and Tess fell in love, it felt a bit superficial to read and I just didn’t believe in it. As characters they both seemed a bit wooden and lacking in actual depth. The author just told me stuff about them but didn’t let me see these things in action. I just couldn’t stay interested because even though there was a story, it felt like nothing was happening. I hoped this book would make me feel something – but I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t hate it, didn’t love it, just mildly tolerated it. And it shouldn’t have taken long to read as it was only 269 pages but it took longer than usual for a book this size, reflecting my lack of interest.

I wanted to like it, I did. Based on the movie I thought I was in for a good read but in the end its just another book to put on my shelf and forget about it. It has been a few years since I saw the movie, so it will be interesting to watch it again now and see if I still like it as much as I did back then. Although I’m sure the presence of Zac Efron helps!

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