Title: If This is Paradise Then I Want My Money Back
Author: Claudia Carroll
Release Date: 10/18/2011
Chick lit has always been one of my guilty pleasures. It's pure potato chip pleasure for me and I've been known to completely cut myself off from civilization whenever Sophie Kinsella or Meg Cabot put out a new book. Paradise gives off roughly the same feel of guilty pleasure, but fails to deliver on exactly all that it promised.
What if you got the opportunity to come back to life…as a guardian angel to your evil ex-boyfriend? That’s the hilarious premise of If This is Paradise I Want My Money Back, a wonderfully clever and charming tale of heavenly revenge from Claudia Carroll, the bestselling author of I Never Fancied Him Anyway and Remind Me Again Why I Need a Man. Fans of smart, contemporary women’s fiction like the bestselling novels of Meg Cabot and Marion Keyes will adore this delightful romp, as Charlotte Grey makes her way back to Earth for a second chance…at retribution!
I'm a little torn at how to describe this book. Carroll puts out an entertaining read to where I'm definitely going to track down her other books, but this was a bit of a chore to read at times. The book's general premise sounded like it'd be incredibly fun because after all, being able to get even with an awful ex is something most of us would love to do. In this aspect yes, the book was fun. I read the scenes of Charlotte tormenting her ex with a bit of sadistic glee. These were some of the better written scenes. Charlotte made for an interesting main character in that she was enough of an every-woman to be relatable to, something that is invaluable in any sort of read. She made me want to keep reading about her even as I wanted to throttle her for being so dense.
Where the "but I'm torn" part comes in is with the book's predictability. You can see every big revelation and plot twist coming miles away. This wouldn't be so bad considering that chick lit books tend to be a little formulaic by nature, but when you add in the parts of the book where the plot got a little dull, it became a chore to read at times. The amount of times where Charlotte visits her family members really could have been reduced greatly because most of what she does ends up being the same as the last time she saw them. I'd express more irritation over how completely devoid Charlotte is of common sense (she wouldn't know it's raining even if her head was soaked), but as this is something that was brought up in the book as a plot element I figured that I'd give it a pass. If anything, Charlotte's moronic nature was something of a "how much more simple minded can you get" form of entertainment where I eagerly turned the pages like a crack addicted chipmunk to see exactly what she'd do next.
Even with all of the irritation I would occasionally feel throughout the book, I was somehow unable to put it down. This might not live up to the high standards put out by Kinsella's fare, but Paradise was still an addicting read and I know I'll be tracking down the author's other works. Carroll still has a way to go but I have a feeling I will end up staying with her for the long haul. My recommendation? For anyone who loves chick lit, this is something you'll probably want to read, but you might want to flip through it first or check it out at the library.
3 out of 5 stars
(ARC provided by Netgalley)