Book Review: Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

Posted March 10, 2014 by Kara in book review, Kara / 14 Comments

Book Review: Strange Sweet Song by Adi RuleStrange Sweet Song by Adi Rule
Published by St Martin's Griffin on March 11th, 2013
Genres: paranormal, young adult
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

Outside Dunhammond Conservatory, there lies a dark forest. And in the forest, they say, lives a great beast called the Felix. But Sing da Navelli never put much faith in the rumors and myths surrounding the school; music flows in her blood, and she is there to sing for real. This prestigious academy will finally give her the chance to prove her worth—not as the daughter of world-renowned musicians—but as an artist and leading lady in her own right.Yet despite her best efforts, there seems to be something missing from her voice. Her doubts about her own talent are underscored by the fact that she is cast as the understudy in the school's production of her favorite opera, Angelique. Angelique was written at Dunhammond, and the legend says that the composer was inspired by forest surrounding the school, a place steeped in history, magic, and danger. But was it all a figment of his imagination, or are the fantastic figures in the opera more than imaginary? Sing must work with the mysterious Apprentice Nathan Daysmoor as her vocal coach, who is both her harshest critic and staunchest advocate. But Nathan has secrets of his own, secrets that are entwined with the myths and legends surrounding Dunhammond, and the great creature they say lives there.Lyrical, gothic, and magical, Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule will captivate and enchant readers.

Oh man. You guys have no idea how disappointed I am that Strange Sweet Song was such a letdown for me.  I featured this as a Waiting on Wednesday pick back when we were still doing them, and that was a while ago. I hate that I didn’t really like it, but there were just so many missed opportunities. I think I’ll just list them off and then go into further detail after that is done.

1. The protagonist is HORRID, from the beginning to the end. 

2. The narrative is stilted, disjointed, and in some places VERY hard to follow.
(Though some of this may be due to poor formatting. I am not sure.)

3. This is almost purely a romance. I would have liked the music element to be stronger. I would have liked there to be more of a focus on the paranormal. It doesn’t help that the characters are cardboard and I couldn’t care less about any of them. 

Okay, so let’s start with #1. The protagonist. Her name is Sing, you guys. I should have known based on the naming of the main character that this book was not going to be a good one. I thought I could get past it, but her stupid name yanked me out of the narrative on multiple occasions. 

She’s also a HUGE jerk. The author tries to redeem her in the end, but I just spent 300 pages hating this girl and wanting to strangle her. I am not going to be that forgiving. She is a snob. She is stuck on herself and arrogant. She is mean to everyone around her for no good reason. I brought some quotes with me today to show you what I mean.

Here is the setup. Sing is in a classroom learning about birdsongs. (I wish I was kidding.) The teacher is asking where baby birds learn how to sing.

“Listen to their parents?” Goatee says.
“Exactly! Most songbirds learn their songs from their parents, the way you and I learn language–and, for many of us here, music.”
Was that a glance in Sing’s direction? It better not have been.
So she has a complete lack of respect for her teachers. CHECK.
“Sing, aren’t you taking that? I thought I saw you head over to Durand after drama.”
Sing shrugs. Was that a dig, because she’s not taking The Artist’s Life? At least she doesn’t have to take functional piano!
She’s also nasty to her friends. Demeaning and condescending too. Lovely.
Ryan laughs, reaches across the table to pat her hand–thank goodness she –had her hand resting there!–and says, “It’s not bad, really. You don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to. You could just say, ‘My cheeseburger was really good,’ or something. He won’t pick you early, since you’re new, so just watch everyone else and decide.”
And there is inspired writing like that. First of all, she is so incredibly happy this douchey guy (and I mean douchey) just touched her with his hand. OMG let me piss myself with excitement. Secondly, that writing is awful. We are just getting started.
Oh, this one is good. About the same douchey guy too.
Remain calm, Sing thinks. A gorgeous rehearsal pianist has his arm around you and is protecting you from the weather with his own umbrella. Don’t screw this up!
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Isn’t her inner voice just charming? I would prefer Anastasia Steele, to be honest. And it’s obvious that it’s his OWN umbrella. You didn’t need to include that word. One too many pronouns there since you already said HIS!! I can’t with this writing and this nauseating grossmance.
If he were in Hud with the other students, he probably would have walked her all the way to her room. It doesn’t matter that Lori might have seen them. He definitely wasn’t trying to hide their new relationship from Lori. Definitely.

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Sweetie. Honey, no. You are not seriously that desperate, pathetic, and naive all rolled into one. Ugh.
I have other examples of just how bad the writing is, but I will spare you the agony. There are also lots of passages early on that showcase just how awful Sing is. I am not kidding you, she is probably one of the nastiest protagonists I have read in years. She hates and judges all the girls around her, including her friends. She disrespects all her elders. The girl is just miserable. She pines over guys that were not worth pining over and obsesses about them until I wanted to vomit. She even takes a very important role from another girl to get herself ahead. And her main reason for doing this is because the girl is her rival. For singing and douchey guy, who’s named Ryan. But Sing doesn’t even like Ryan that much so it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. 
I could go on forever, but this book to me, is not worth your time. I finished it because it was so hilariously bad that I couldn’t NOT finish. Plus, you know, the book had an interesting concept. I wanted to see how it ended up being executed. Not well, I might add. I don’t even want to go into details about that because the rest is just so horrifying that it’s not worth pushing yourself through to a payoff that is not even close to worth it.
Remember way back when when I reviewed Dance of Shadows by Yelena Black? 

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This is just about as bad as that. In short? I do not recommend it. 

14 responses to “Book Review: Strange Sweet Song by Adi Rule

  1. Oh dear margaritas. I abandoned it around 30%. What a wise decision for once! I was reminded of Dance of Shadows, too. I can’t actually believe you finished it; the narrative and protagonist were so bad. It took me around an hour to get through 40 pages b/c my attention- shot that it is- kept wandering. It was so difficult to keep track of everything. And Sing only just gets worse? Dude, from the first chapter she was so annoying and conceited. Ugh, I remember her looking down on everyone even before her goddamn audition.

    I was actually sorta interested in that creature-guy who shows up and wants music, but has a horrible voice and tries to learn about piano or whatever. Sad to see it didn’t pan out. I’m still a little curious about him, though. Not enough to read the book, however; just to troll through its reviews.

    • LOL!! Yes, you made a VERY wise decision. I think the reason why I decided to finish this is because I had been DNFing SO many books this year already and I just wanted to stop. I am glad I pushed through it though because even though it stunk, not knowing the ending sometimes really eats at me. It comes with my naturally inquisitive nature, I suppose.

      Sing was probably one of the worst protagonists I have ever read. Top 5, for sure.

  2. Haha, yes. I was happy with the fantasy stuff, so still found some enjoyment, but between Ryan and the creepy crow romance, I was just a bit horrified at the direction this one went :(. The writing seems to have been cleaned up a bit in the final copy since I didn’t notice much beyond how weird present tense is.

  3. Wow, I am so relieved that someone else felt how I did about this title! I’m reading all these glowing reviews and wondering if I fell into another dimension while reading my ARC. I didn’t finish it either.

    • No. You are not alone. I was kind of terrified to post this review, to be honest, knowing it was one of the first negative ones. I don’t like doing that, but this was just baaadddd.

  4. Well, I’m glad I didn’t request this one. The concept sounds wonderful but from your review I don’t think I’d enjoy it. So sad since there seemed to be potential. 🙁

  5. I’m glad I avoided this book now Kara! I was so almost sucked in by the pretty cover, but I’m starting to learn my lessons that if it’s only the cover that’s really gripping me, I should probably avoid, I made a good call. I’m so sorry you didn’t enjoy this Kara, you were excited for it and it’s a shame.. fantastic review though, nice, blunt and snarky, just what I like 🙂

  6. Yikes! I’m also glad I avoided this one. I hate it when authors name their main character something ridiculous. I’m sometimes ok with nasty protagonists, but there has to be some sort of reason or redemption. Everything about this sounds bad, from the nasty main character to the writing to the lame love interest. Great review! I hope your new read is much, much better.

  7. Wooh that bad huh. I’ve come across this title now and then and sorry to hear that you had a horrific time with it

    *hugs , Kara *

  8. Now I know why I got denied for this but approved for Wicked Little Secrets: The publisher was psychic and knew how I would receive each book. I would have run after seeing it was written in third-person present because I really dislike that specific POV, but the quotes themselves are awful and the story sounds just as bad. I wanted in for the Gothic stuff and the musical elements, not a romance! Thank you for helping me get this off my TBR, Kara. I’m not looking for a second Dance of Shadows either.

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