Verdict: BEST LAID PLANS & OTHER DISASTERS is a relatable, plot-driven story of balancing work and romance that doesn’t offer the depth that is expected from a literary novel.
Gwen Marsh struggles to balance a relationship with the rigors of becoming the mayor of a Colorado town in BEST LAID PLANS & OTHER DISASTERS. It is the second book in Amy Rivers’s Cambria Trilogy and the follow-up to Wallflower Blooming.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)
Gwen’s story is a compelling one. While on the surface she seems to have everything going for her—she is the recently elected mayor of Cambria, Colorado and has a committed relationship with her boyfriend, Jason—she soon finds those ostensibly positive things embroiling her life in conflict. It’s a story that anyone who has struggled to balance love and work should be able to relate to.
Unfortunately though, while this story’s plot creates plenty of space for developing a great literary novel, too many other essential storytelling aspects are neglected or poorly executed for it to reach that level. Perhaps the most noticeable issue is that BEST LAID PLANS & OTHER DISASTERS is a novel that is guilty of telling its readers far too much. Throughout its pages, nearly every passing emotion is stated outright rather than shown, which robs the story of any significant emotional punch. While showing a character’s emotions through dialogue and body language draws the reader in and invites her to empathize, simply stating that a character is sad/angry/irritated/etc. over and over—as is the case in this story—tends to keep the reader at arm’s length.
The over-telling also squanders the story’s potential for provoking thought. For example, Gwen points to her neglectful parents to explain one conflict with Jason fairly early on in the story. And while the toll that her poor relationship with her parents took on her could have been fertile ground for development, it is instead explicitly stated that her parents didn’t love her, definitively cited as a major reason for Gwen’s anxiety, and then mostly forgotten. Her mother does make a brief cameo toward the end of the story but, sadly, she comes off as little more than a generic bad-mom character and does nothing to challenge what Gwen had already said about her.
Ultimately, BEST LAID PLANS & OTHER DISASTERS is an interesting, plot-driven story of balancing work and romance, but it doesn’t offer the depth that is typically expected from a literary novel.
~Dan Kelley for IndieReader