Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Review: Virgin Territory by James Lecesne
Publication Date: September 14, 2010
Source: ARC from Traveling ARC Tours
Rating: 3 Bookcases (mostly because of the ending)
Summary can be found on EgmontUSA.com
Dylan is sort of floating through life…he doesn’t really like where he lives; he’d rather go back to New York City. Ever since his mom died, he and his father have been drifting apart. This summer Dylan’s working as a caddy at a local golf club when an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) is seen in a tree trunk. This sighting brings hundreds of people to town, including Angela, Desiree, and Crispy - the members of the Virgin Club. Through the course of the summer Dylan learns that sometimes taking a risk is the only way to get something that you really want.
Virgin Territory was a very different novel than what I was expecting. To be honest, I was expecting a John Green-ish coming of age story with a quirky protagonist and some odd goings on. Instead, it was about Dylan, a 15 year old guy who is pretty much mad at the world. He has a job he’s not that in to, that he really only got because his dad wanted him to stop wasting his life and “come up with a plan.” Then group of women claim to see the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVM) on a tree trunk at the golf course where Dylan works and soon hundreds of people descend on Jupiter, Florida.
This part of the story was just okay for me. The teens Dylan meets - Angela, Desiree, and Crispy- sort of represent a cross section of the BVM crowd. I actually grew to like Desiree and Crispy, but Angela got on my nerves quite a bit. It was clear from the start that she was definitely hiding something and not quite telling the truth about why she and her mom are in Jupiter. Of course, Dylan has to have a thing for Angela because she’s the leggy bombshell. So he goes along with all of Angela’s crazy plans. Had Dylan really listened and looked carefully enough, he would have realized Angela was bad news or crazy; which Crispy had been trying to tell him. The whole thing with Angela was too drawn out and really could have been a much smaller part of the story. I know that some of you will probably say, well Dylan is a 15 year old boy, of course he’s going to develop a crush on Angela and agree to all of her crazy ideas. And I get that, I really do. I just didn’t connect with Angela as a character.
My favorite part of Virgin Territory was the story line about Dylan’s grandmother, Marie. She’s part of the reason Dylan and Doug moved to Jupiter. Marie has Alzheimer’s and lives in a nursing home (or the place as Dylan and Doug call it), that she is frequently leaving for adventures. From what Dylan remembers, Maria was larger than life until the Alzheimer’s hit. I would have liked more about this and more of Dylan and his father dealing with Kat’s (Dylan’s mother) death. There was great potential for a whole plot line about the idealized version that people remember about someone they cared for who has died versus who they really were.
The real miracle was that everything that happened over this one summer spurred Dylan and Doug to finally deal with a lot of pent up feelings about Kat. This helped both of them move on; Doug with a job in a field he actually enjoyed and Dylan with life in general. Towards the end, there’s a great scene between father and son, where Doug does a lot of explaining about things that he probably should have talked about with Dylan a long time ago. This scene was the heart of the book, at this point all I could think was “Yes, finally!” and “More of this please! ” The section from the scene prior to this to the last past (from page 187 to the end) redeemed the book in my opinion. The rest of the book was really one long build up to these 30 pages. I’m glad that I stuck it out and read to the end.
Overall, Virgin Territory was a slightly disappointing read. I’m not discounting is completely and there may be other people who will enjoy this story. Give it a shot, especially if you like contemporary fiction.
Beth Kephart has a great story about James Lecesne and Virgin Territory on her blog.
James's website can be found at: http://www.jameslecesne.com/