Book Review of Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell

Posted December 13, 2012 by Kara in Uncategorized / 20 Comments

Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

Release Date: August 21st, 2007
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult-Contemporary
Source: I bought it for Kindle.

Summary from Goodreads: “I’ve got my entire life planned out for the next ten years — including my PhD and Pulitzer Prize,” claims 16-year-old overachiever Vassar Spore, daughter of overachiever parents, who in true overachiever fashion named her after an elite women’s college. Vassar expects her sophomore summer to include AP and AAP (Advanced Advanced Placement) classes. Surprise! Enter a world-traveling relative who sends her plans into a tailspin when she blackmails Vassar’s parents into forcing their only child to backpack with her through Southeast Asia.

On a journey from Malaysia to Cambodia to the remote jungles of Laos, Vassar sweats, falls in love, hones her outdoor survival skills — and uncovers a family secret that turns her whole world upside-down.

Vassar Spore can plan on one thing: she’ll never be the same again.

Review: This book started out really rocky for me. So rocky, in fact, that I almost put it down. The opening chapters are kind of hard to swallow. I am supposed to believe that this girl named Vassar Spore (Really?!) is this ridiculous caricature of an overachiever and her parents encourage this behavior to the point where it becomes OCD. No, I’m serious. This girl writes lists for everything. She has never had a relationship and doesn’t want one because it would interfere with her studies and life goals. She is SO much of an overachiever that every night for one hour, she has a meeting with her parents called ‘the hour of reflection’ where they discuss the day, plan goals for the next, and plan future ones. It is like a life management hour. And it is ALL ridiculous. She has her entire day planned out and literally has ZERO time for fun. I thought it was all very hard to believe. The dialogue is corny, the tension is zero, and I was just completely unimpressed.

But then she gets on the plane to Singapore. And then I fell in love. Somehow the combination of the really fun characters, traveling in Southeast Asia, the adventures Vassar goes on, and the fun writing really led me to enjoy this book. Vassar’s grandma is just wonderful. She does some really absentminded things, but in spite of it all, she is truly a remarkable and lovable character. Vassar annoyed the shit out of me, however. Girl couldn’t do ANYTHING right. And it did get to be a bit much, but it was still fun to ride along with her from one screwup to the next.

The book is a guilty pleasure. It’s lighthearted, enjoyable, and totally predictable. I knew almost from the very beginning how the plot was going to go down to the very letter. I even had the twist figured out–it’s not that much of a twist either. The settings are wonderful and the descriptions of Asia had me really wanting to go there. Someday I will. It’s not a perfect book. But it was a whole lot of fun, and sometimes this is EXACTLY the kind of read I need to renew my love for reading. I’m only sorry the author has not written any other books! I wish I had more of her work to sink my teeth into. I’m sad this one is over. When it was finished, I was suffering from withdrawals.

If you are looking for a fun escape, this is the perfect book for that. I could not recommend it more.

4/5 Dragons

20 responses to “Book Review of Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell

  1. Oooooo you had me at travel. But I’d hate Vassar – that much perfection is just not realistic! But it’s pretty……

    Well done for keeping with it, I probably would have chucked it out the window!

  2. Amy

    This sounds like an enjoyable book. Ugh, I hate annoying characters, but she seems fun too. I really love the cover. I may try this book at some point. I like a fun, ridiculous, and predictable read on occasion.

  3. How can you not fall in love with this cover? I absolutely adore its uniqueness! I am so going to add this to my Cover of The Day post this week. I love it. Besides, I think I can relate to the girl. I have overacheiver parents who want me to be an overachiever , too. Which I am, sometimes. But it gets really tiring, and you have no time for fun. So I think I can sympathize with her. LOVED your review, Kara
    Your reader,

    • Me too, Soma! If you read it, you will have to let me know what you think! I bet you will really connect with this one. It’s wonderful. We need to get her to write more!

      Thank you so much for visiting!

  4. Yay, I’m glad you ended up liking this. It sucks that Vassar is made of fail.

    I have noticed a trend of awesome, sassy grandmas in YA, and I LOVE it. They’re usually of the Maggie Smith variety where they don’t give a fuck anymore and will drop truth bombs and say inappropriate things left and right. THE BEST.

    I’m glad the setting worked out. That’s what you were there for!

    • Hahaha @ ‘made of fail.’ I love when you say that! Sassy grandmas are the best! I had one and she was the light of my life.

      The setting was awesome. Exactly what I was looking for.

  5. Ohh….I love the review – short a sweet.
    It looks interesting. The topic is touchy in a weird way, but if it comes my way, I might give it a shot.

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