I found out that Simon and Schuster can give you free eBooks! I can now get eBooks through a venue not NetGalley (as I have mentioned my woes with them before) even though I much prefer “the real deal” over online. I knew that most of these titles would not be at my library, and I would not want to own copies, therefore, this was a great way to read them. And when I saw the cover of Tash Hearts Tolstoy (a grumpy Tolstoy starring out at the viewer/reader) I said, “That is going to be the best book ever, or a so-so book” and a must read. Turns out that while Kathryn Ormsbee (or K.E. Ormsbee) has created something that has potential and has a great idea for a main character, it turned out to be so-so for me.
I was excited to see an asexual character in a teen novel. But it turns out it was not 100% what I was looking for. The character is a romantic asexual, which I am not saying is “faked” (as a character thinks asexual people are doing) or “not a real asexual,” but I was a bit disappointed that Ormsbee had an asexual character who had a relationship. I was hoping for a “happily ever after with no partnering at the end” ending. With that said, it is nice to have an asexual character in a book (as I only know of one other book off the top of my head) regardless the outcome.
Overall, the characters are typical teen characters with the selfishness of people and the love and hate we feel. Also, a web series is involved that has adapted Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. Our main character Tash (short for Natasha, therefore pronounced Tosh (like Posh), but I either missed this point or it was not mentioned until near the end when it is all the sudden important to the plot) and her best friend, Jacklyn (Jack) created a web series that is a modern take off to Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. They get their friends, siblings, and various “sets” (i.e.: their living rooms) to film. The stereotypes are there: the male diva, the “real actress,” the gay boy who likes the (at least) bisexual boy who used to date Jack), the shy and sweet girl (who is not Jack, by the way, as she is the stereotypical “detached” BAD A$$ McGee), the other vloggers (who do not act in the series but are important to the overall storyline) and of course, there is the drama teens get into. The parents seem to be in the picture only to create “tension” (Jack’s father has had cancer (and later it comes back) and Tash’s mother with her later in life pregnancy). Everything is obvious, predictable, and slightly unimaginative at times (the male vlogger, Thom, has predictably a douche personality and actions). I never really liked any of the characters but was excited to see they mention the “Batman Building” when they are in Nashville. (I mention it in the character section as if you have seen it, you know it has character. And as I have a soft spot for the building. It helped me (in a roundabout fashion) find my way back to the place I was staying at the first year I was down there.)
I was sorry to see that the character Paul, the older sibling of Jack, has had a crush on Tash since they were kids. I was hoping he would be a “big brother” to Tash as she has a rocky relationship with her own older sister. And as I said above, the fact Thom turns out to be a douche was a “Captain Obvious” from page one he was on. I was hoping he would not be a “hater” but at the same time, does have a fairly realistic reaction to Tash’s revelation of her asexuality. The high spot was Jack’s conversation with Tash when she confronts her friend and tells Tash about her (Jack’s) own feelings, thoughts, and reactions to Tash’s previous announcement (she seems to only be out to Jack and Paul). Asexuality, in my personal experiences, seems to be misunderstood, and Jack’s comments show how it is not easy for Tash’s friends any more than it is easy for Tash to understand. It is a valid response to wanting to be an ally and friend.
I do not think I could recommend this to anyone unless you want a “teen beach read” or see how an asexual character is handled in a story. I am glad I read it. But I am not “OMGing” over it.