So this is an interesting one for me as a reviewer. I vaguely know Ms Taylor. Well not really but I first became aware of her through SlingInk one of the writing sites I visit. About the time I was trying to “get serious about my writing” I joined that forum and she was one of the people there. I must’ve followed a link in her posts or profile because I’ve followed her blog ever since. In that time she’s gotten herself an agent and got her first novel published. I pre-ordered it from Amazon as soon as it was available to do so because I felt a sense of kinship with her having followed her progress.
Why do I sound like I’m preparing excuses? Well because I feel this sense of vague connection it doesn’t feel like I’m reviewing a stranger’s book and that makes me want to be nice. At the same time Heaven Can Wait is not really my usual fare and I doubt I am its target audience. It’s quite squarely and unashamedly chick-lit, albeit with a supernatural twist. So perhaps I’m not best placed to review it – I’m neither really objective nor am I truly a lover of this genre and as I may have said before I’m wary of criticising something in a genre I don’t care for.
Having said that I do own a copy of Undead and Unwed which in my case is Undead, Unwed and unread. However I have in the past read male chick-lit, am as we know a fan of rom-coms and supernatural fiction definitely attracts me. So I think I’m qualified.
First thing I want to say is that I enjoyed this book. It was a light and easy read. Given my on-going battle to get my 25 Books score up a bit that’s no small thing. I also want to say that up front because it would be very easy for me to list a lot of little things I didn’t like about Heaven Can Wait and I may easily give the impression that I didn’t enjoy it as a whole. In fact I’m going to try to resist the temptation to give a long nit-pick list.
So Heaven Can Wait is the story of Lucy Brown, who dies the night before her wedding but on arriving in Limbo is given the opportunity to return to earth and gain ghost status by fulfilling a task – that of finding a soulmate for a hapless computer nerd. Along the way she has her fellow wannabe-ghosts and her best friend’s designs on her ex- to deal with.
One of the things that’s definitely odd about reading a book aimed clearly at women when you’re a man is trying to identify with the main character and wondering, at the points where you fail, whether that’s you as a person or you as a man that don’t get the character. I think overall I sympathised with Lucy, the book’s hero although I struggled to like her at first. I think that in part was deliberate – the plot requires her to have unfinished business and regret at her behaviour just before she died plays into that.
Another thing that I didn’t quite get was the humour of the book. This is not unusual for me. Ask my friends and they’ll tell you I’m often the one telling the joke no-one else finds funny and vice-versa. That doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the amusing tone of the book. When I was younger I read the Stainless Steel Rat series of books which I knew were not ‘serious’ SciFi but was slightly shocked to discover some people found ‘hilarious’. Still, the fact I never found them laugh out loud funny didn’t stop me enjoying them. I feel a bit the same about Heaven Can Wait. It’s not my kind of funny but that’s not a problem, for me anyway.
Another potential issue was that I found the plot fairly predictable. Again though this needn’t be a problem, and I suspect most fans of this genre would welcome it in the sense that they like to know they are getting the kind of story they like. It won’t shock you to hear that pretty much everyone ends up happily and that’s probably as it should be.
The best thing about this book, for me as a non-typical reader, was that it was light, easy to read (short chapters!) and kept me interested. The worst…? I guess I found some of the male characters a little stereotypical. Archie, the geek Lucy has to find love for, is the male equivalent of the supermodel in horn-rimmed glasses who, halfway through the movie, takes them off, lets down her hair and reveals her ‘inner’ beauty. Well I’ve seen enough female versions of that so fair’s fair I guess.
Overall though the highest complement I can give this book is that I finished it less that 48 hours in a year when I’ve only read 9 books to date.
7/10 – probably not my kind of book really but a light, fun read nonetheless.