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MarlenaChristina (10)

So I got this book in my March box and I just finished it yesterday. This would have definitely had been a DNF book, but I hate to see myself not read a book to the end. I understand it was about friendship and how the people you surround yourself with and experiences shape you into the person you would become. But, putting that to the side, the story flatlined throughout the whole book. Many questions left unanswered. When major events occurred (example, losing virginity or meeting Sal at the end), they were done with quickly. The last chapter left me thinking, like really, that's it? I agree that it would've be better to have some insight on what Marlena was thinking or what really happened to her. I usually take a day or two to digest a book when I finish reading it, but I have about 7 TBR books on the side, and I already started the next one today.

StacieC (6)
I'm glad i'm not the only one who felt this way! Usually when i finish a book it stays with me, but this did nothing. I got to a point where i was just finishing it for the sake of finishing it. I wanted more, and like you said, the major events that took place were barely touched on.
akowalczuk (4)
Me too! I couldn't quite connect how this one year had such an impact on Cat's present day; is this why she's an alcoholic? I wanted a stronger connection between the two timelines.
JanetteGuzman (2)
I agree. I didn't enjoy this book at all but I felt that I had to finish it.
ceciliacuriel (1)
I felt like this was almost the point. That it was meant to replicate life in that way. That we never really know the full story. We only have our own unreliable memories and judgments as the narrator mentions time and time again. The narrator talked about mythologizing Marlena and in the chapter Omissions she emphasized the point that she was leaving out key details because they didn't suit the narrative that she had given her long dead best friend. The book in my opinion was about what Marlena was for the narrator not who she was in reality. That said, I think the story definitely lacked depth not in explanation, but in feeling. While simultaneously being just enough for say what a teenager would need from tale.
MarlenaVasiliki (1)
Not sure about this book

I am about 50 pages in and I am not sure if I am missing something... I find it boring as well...glad to see I am not the only one that feels that way ;) Not sure IF I will get to finish it

ChristineDuane (58)
Im 100 pages in and I find that I read about 20 pages and just put it down for the day, which is not how I usually read a book like this. Its kind of a boring and the writing is intense even though nothing is really happening.
Marlenamoalexander7 (4)

Their were so many opportunities for the author to actually do some thing with a plot and then it would just fizzle out and not much would happen. I thought it was going to be more of a murder mystery and there were maybe a few pages that actually talk about Marlena's death. I also thought that the beginning was leading up to this meeting with Sal and then that too was so short and didn't even elaborate on what had happened to him after he was taken away or at least we could have read what Cat actually said to him. It just felt like the author got as bored writing this novel as I did reading it and wrapped it up. The whole book was built on anticipation that amounted to nothing but the story full of unexplained scenarios. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but every book I have read from this membership has been a dud in my opinion. Anyone have a really good recommendation for me? I need a page turner next with an exciting plot.

JennaT (1)
Interesting take! I think the reasons you dislike it were purposeful decisions by the author. It wasn't about her death, it wasn't about meeting Sal. Those were just the bookends that framed the meat of the story - how the meeting and losing of Marlena shaped Cat into who she became and also who she would never become. To me the book was about a year-long turning point in a young woman's life and how those whom we surround ourselves with help shape who we are. In some ways it was a slow story, but I think that was the correct pace to demonstrate the pain and angst and frustration. Buntin wrote beautifully; her metaphors were on point!
moalexander7 (4)
I agree with you that this was a coming of age story about a girl and her best friend, I just still think some things were dwelled upon to the point of boredom and others not explained enough. It left me with so many questions. Just not my type of read I guess.
MarlenaLaurenYzaguirre (1)
The feels

This book gave me all the feels of growing up with my best friend, feeling like it was us against the world. I am normally a thriller type of girl, but I fell in love with this story, despite a lack of twists. I think the author telling us the ending at the beginning of the book allowed me to slow down and appreciate the story being told for what it is. It was beautifully written. I found myself re-reading passages so that I could better take them in. This books was so relatable and wonderful, it has not yet left me, and I have a feeling it will stay with me for a long time.

Stephanie (10)
I agree. I appreciated this book in a special way because of so many of the passages and how I could relate to them, even if the situations were different. I think this might be the type of book where in order to like it, you have to relate to it in some way or another.
LaurenMazza (2)
I agree. I have so many pages bookmarked...I absolutely LOVED it. It was a story that needed to be told.
EmilyStroud (8)
Literally EVERYTHING you've said is exactly how the book resonated with me as well - you described my feelings for this book perfectly. I'm normally one for the thriller/horror/science fiction genre, but Marlena was a very special read for me. The narrator's character felt so real and it was comforting to read another teenager's perspective that was so relatable (yet very different) to my own teenage experiences. All around beautiful novel.
Marlenapaytonalexandra (5)

I've seen a lot of mixed reviews on this book, some liking, some hating, some just kinda apathetic, but I truly loved this book. Maybe it's because I had a similar friendship when I was younger (less extreme, but still similar), but the characters really resonated with me. I felt I could really relate to Cat, how she was feeling throughout the friendship and how she had this romanticized vision of Marlena. It all just really hit home for me and made me reminisce, both fondly and also regretfully. The writing was beautiful and that really helped made the story so stirring. This isn't necessarily a fast-paced, suspenseful, action-packed story, but it is emotional and moving and I would absolutely recommend to anyone, but especially those who have experienced such a toxic and overwhelming friendship like that of Cat and Marlena. I'm now reading another BOTM, but find my self still thinking about this book.

abster (1)
I'm so glad to see someone else enjoyed this book. I have had this book on my bookshelf for almost a year and finally decided to pick it up this week. I have not been able to put it down! In my opinion, the story was beautifully written. The characters were so well developed you found yourself falling in love with them. I wanted more and more of Marlena and her antics. While reading her story line, the phrase Broken Angel always came to mind. She was one of those special characters that remain with you long after the book closes.
MarlenaReneeTerrebonne (9)
The characters felt so real!

As someone who has a family full of alcoholics and drug addicts, the tone of the book felt very spot-on. I really appreciated how there was this sense of chaos and a lack of real consequences but a generalized sense of life not going right. I liked that there wasn't a neat and tidy ending, that everything was left kind of with this air of mystery. It all felt very real to me.

paytonalexandra (5)
This is exactly how I felt about this book, the realness of the characters and situations really made this book impact me in ways most books just can't.
MarlenaJordanH (27)
I liked it, but...

I enjoyed this book, but I wasn't blown away. After reading it I had the feeling that something from the story was missing...Like maybe a chapter or two was torn out before I could finish reading! This could have been a really good suspense or thriller book, or maybe the story would have been better told as an essay. This book just seemed slightly incomplete.

However, I think I can forgive all that. The part I enjoyed most was how honest and realistic this story was. I believed these characters were real, flaws and all. They were so selfish, just as a fifteen year-old or a drug addict is in real life. Did anyone else feel this way?

This isn't a five star book, in my opinion, but it was one I'm glad I read.

Stephanie (10)
Hmm.. I disagree. I think if this had been told as a thriller it would have been awful. The fact that we knew what happened with Marlena from the very beginning and that Adult Cat was reflecting throughout was what made this book great for me.
Pockyist (5)
I agree: the book was an interesting read but not mind-blowing. I kept hoping that there would be some major twist in the story but in the end, Marlena is still dead and we don't know exactly why. Even though the book isn't some thrilling adventure, I enjoy it for what it is - two girls growing up together and adapting to one another. Friendships, like all relationships, aren't perfect. There will be lies told, awkward moments, times for growing apart, but overall, you're still connected. That's what I liked most, the way Cat remembers (and occasionally misremembers) their past. That's how we all are.
Marlenapm (18)
The ending

I thoroughly enjoyed this book from begning to end. One thing I wish though was that her and Sal's meeting would have given a little more information, such as what happened to him all those years in foster care, or if more conversation would have been included in the chapter period. I felt like a lot of the New York chapters built on the anticipation of their meeting and the actual chapter was mostly about him drinking beer and her trying not to drink.

JordanH (27)
I agree. I expected Cat to reveal all that she knew to Sal. I thought it would give them both some closure. Maybe the life Marlena lead doesn't leave room for closure or answers for those left behind. I think this way the author has given me a better idea of what Cat, Sal, and others experienced by not receiving the closure that's so desired. I have the feeling of wanting to know a little more which I think Sal and Cat feel at the end. Still! I was hoping for a big reveal, confession, a bang, something! at the end of the book. I feel like it just sort of fizzled out.
madmirand19 (1)
So what did you make of the very last chapter titled "Marlena"? I really didn't love the book, but I'm stuck on that last chapter and what it means or implies. Would love to hear some feedback about it.
KendraJohnson (1)
I agree with you completely. All this anticipation for their meeting made me think he knew something that would blow my socks off. When it finally came, I was left feeling empty. I mean it was nice to find out that he left the system unscathed but I don't know I wanted more.
orangasaur (8)
You are so right! It didn't feel like the closure that it could've been. I mean, it's great that Sal retained his innocence despite it all, but I wanted more from him. Especially when all the New York parts were just hyping it up.
Stephanie (10)
I kinda felt like it was implied that he didn't retain as much of his innocence as he was trying to make it seem. The fact he owns a bar, was drinking so fast.. If you read the meeting again I think you might see that he gave the impression that he got out of it unscathed, but that is not possible.
Pockyist (5)
Just to play devil's advocate, how else would the meeting have gone? How do you explain what your best friend means to you, to someone who doesn't know them? And how would Cat share the memories she had with Marlena when the memories are about being perpetually drunk/high and her audience is a guy who thinks of Marlena as a mother-figure? It doesn't surprise me that Cat ends up not having much to say (both when meeting Sal and at her assumed AA meeting near the end of that same chapter). I also actually liked how the both of them tried to lead a better life despite Marlena. Sal stayed away from the partying life because he saw firsthand how it affected his sister, and Cat is taking small steps in her own way. From the beginning, when she told herself she'd only have one drink (and ended up with 4 martinis and 3 beers in one night) to just having tea... it's an improvement.
Marlenapm (18)
Im only halfway through but

I am loving this book so far, it actually reminds me of a childhood friend of mine who was so innocent when I met her and then just seemed to fall into a spiral of decisions that become life like Cat did.

JordanH (27)
I think part of the appeal of this book was the realistic characters. I would guess a lot of readers know or have known someone that is very much like Cat or Marlena.
MarlenaLoganJAlexander (15)
Pretty Dang Enjoyable

I finished this book this past week and I truly did find it rather enjoyable. It may be due to the fact that it flashed me back to my love of the movie Thirteen, when I was a teenager or that I just enjoy a good sh*t show. The beginning was fairly slow but I chalked that up to the laying of the groundwork for the story. Once it started going, it really started going. I did expect there to be more consequence to their actions but I guess it makes sense that there weren't, since Cat's mom was a bit of a drinker as well (I wanted there to be more of a connection to this throughout the present day parts). I was a little upset about the fact that we don't truly learn about what happened to Marlena, although I think it was most obviously a drug related accident in the end. I was slightly confused reading the last chapter, for a minute I thought it was from Marlena's persepective (I totally wish it would have been) but it wasn't. Had the Author have gone that route, it would have given her a chance to tie up some of the questions about Marlena's death, which I think might have been a better ending.

Overall, I did enjoy this book!!! It was a great, quick, read!

pm (18)
I agree about having the last chapter be in Marlena's point of view!!! That would have made the ending of the book so much more satisfying.
HeatherAntrobus (1)
I completely agree with you about the last chapter of the book, and actually had to re-read it because I was confused about whose perspective it was meant to be from! I would've loved for this book to have ended with Marlena's perspective on the last moments of her life - it would've given me the heart pounding ending that I was craving from this story.
Pockyist (5)
Same. I was definitely more than a little confused trying to sort out the dialogue in the beginning. It would have been great to have an omniscient perspective from Marlena, beyond the grave, to give us that sense of closure on what happened. But I guess that's life! You'll always have mysteries that won't ever be solved.
Marlenaorangasaur (8)
Shock Value

Did anyone feel like the book tried just a little too hard to shock you? I mean did there have to be SO MUCH that was screwed up? Not to be a goody two-shoes; I just wonder if the story relied too heavily on "everything here is fucked up."

Note: that might be the only aspect of the book I dislike; I loved the themes of being young and trying to grow up, of choices that change lives, of inevitability, etc. I think that was well done.

ReneeTerrebonne (9)
I see definitely how you could feel that way... But I think the author really captured what it's like to live with an alcoholic and drug addict. There are a lot of questions, secrets, and things you never know because you either don't want to ask or are afraid to ask. I think she captured that aspect really well.
TW (2)
I felt that way too. I wrote this in the review I left too, but I think the early chapters were often self-indulgent. I thought the last few chapters were better about that, for the most part.
Kelsey (28)
I agree with that. I also felt a lot of it was left fairly vague and we didn't know what happened. Like when Cat found her mom after the date with Bolt passed out on the bed or what was going on between Marlena and her father. Maybe that was intentional but I felt like there were something I just was confused about.
LoganJAlexander (15)
I just kind of chalked the Bolt thing up to a bad date, in which her mother decided to just get drunk. I mean, we've all had those awful dates where we just need a drink! I feel like if something else were to have happened, it might have been mentioned, but I could be wrong.
MarlenaKelsey (28)
Unsure if I liked it or not?

I just finished the book and I'm not really sure how I feel about it. Parts of me really liked it and the other parts of me felt it was just a slow, uneventful read. I understand that it was supposed to be a look back on two young girls' friendship, but I felt like something was missing.

The New York chapters (or the 'now') felt too short to me. I didn't quite feel the connection between the past chapters and the present ones. The present ones seemed to only focus on her drinking, while the past focused on a story. Perhaps that was the entire point.

The other thing I'm curious to know is if other readers were also confused by the last chapter called Marlena. I assumed, that it was a chapter from the point of view of Marlena, but the ending of the chapter didn't feel that way. What do you all think?

mermaidmoonqueen (5)
I totally agree! There was so much to this book that I disliked and I think most of it was the narration. Maybe, if instead of having present day Cat tell it, it would have been better from a third person or told by past Cat. Either way, I didn't really enjoy the story. The thing that stood out to me most was the snippets of conversation between Cat and Marlena. In those texts or conversations, I could see how real they were. They spoke exactly like me and my best friend speak. That made me enjoy this book more than anything else. In the end, I thought it was just okay- nothing too special, but not the worst.
Pockyist (5)
Yes! Their random conversation topics about what pill they'd be or how they'd like to die - it's the inane stuff that teenagers talk about and bond over. We all reminisce about the people who have shaped us, and I loved it when Cat (in present day) said she can see the "outline of the best friend" in most people and how "it's not hard to make out the marks the [best friend] left". Some of the truest words I've heard about friendships.
EmilySemlak (10)
I just finished today and I feel the same way! I didn't dislike it, but it's hard to put into words what I did like about it. Mixed feelings all around! I thought the New York chapters were too short as well. In the end, I kind of felt like they weren't really necessary. I guess it would have been sad not knowing what happens to Sal, and there was some importance to knowing how Cat's friendship with Marlena affected her in the long run. I think there could have been more to those chapters to give it more significance and depth. I read halfway through the last chapter thinking that I was reading from Marlena's viewpoint! That threw me off, I'm guessing the last chapter is titled Marlena just to signify Cat's closure with it all? I don't know. It didn't fit with the pattern of the rest of the book's chapter titles. A chapter from Marlena's perspective would have been really cool because she's so mysterious; it would have been neat to be able to get in her head a little. All in all, I'm feeling pretty neutral. I did enjoy reading Marlena, but I don't think this is a book that I'll think about much in the future.
Pockyist (5)
Definitely thought the chapter was going to be Marlena's perspective as well. But I think it worked well as a dedication, words FOR Marlena instead of from her.
Kelsey (28)
You point on the last chapter about Marlena makes a lot of sense. When I saw it was titled Marlena and thought it was going to be from her view point I was hoping we would get a glimpse in to what happened that last day she was alive. I really assumed that was going to be it - that she was going to talk about her day and how she ended up dying the way she did.
EmilySemlak (10)
Yes! That's exactly where I thought it was going too.
cmransom12 (1)
I completely agree. I didn't dislike the book, but I also wasn't overly satisfied with the plot. It really did feel like something was missing from it.
Bookie1125 (1)
I agree with your whole post! I just finished the book and I'm undecided about whether or not I liked it. About half way through, I was really enjoying it but I was expecting more out of the ending. I also thought the chapter titled Marlena was from her perspective and when I realized it wasn't, I reread the chapter again. Would've been a great ending for the final chapter to be from her perspective because several times, Cat mentioned this was "her truth." Plus I felt like Cat was an unreliable narrator. At one point she told the readers she lied about the story of her parents watching tv together. Anyways, not a 5 star book but not the worst I've read either :)
You're exactly right. It was very anticlimactic. I thought there would be some revelation at some point about how Marlena died. When I came to the last chapter I assumed it was going to wrap up that mystery and I was really kind of disappointed...because in all honesty thinking we were going to learn that was the only thing that kept me reading. I didn't necessarily dislike it, I'm just not sure what the point was. I'm hoping The Stranger in the Woods will be a better read.
Dana (3)
Agreed. SPOILERS I can't say I really liked it though I was interested in seeing how things tied up. But they didn't, because nothing really happened. I didn't care for Cat at all. We were led to feel there was a mystery or revelation to be revealed when Cat meets up with Sal. Unfortunately it's literally a few throw away lines on a page or two and we learn nothing about Sal and how he processed what happened to him (the foster care system, father in jail, sister dead). We also don't learn any insight into Marlena's death, which is fine-except it felt as though we were coming to some kind of mystery. I ultimately felt like there was nothing to take away from reading this. I wasn't impressed or blown away by their friendship. If anything, Cat was a horrible friend who failed to get Marlena help or at the very least try. No one, 15-16 or not, could believe taking that amount of pills was remotely okay. And I thought the pin was going to symbolize something or play in as significant but nope. Just a huge disappointment.
Kelsey (28)
That's so true! It really did feel like they were building up to some huge mystery that just never amounted to anything. I agree - the meeting with Sal was very anti-climatic and it seemed so short.
MarlenaGWeinstein (5)
Can't get into it

I'm about 60 pages into Marlena and I just can't get into it. And those 60 pages I've read in like 3 or 4 days. Is anyone else having this problem? I'm trying to decide whether or not to give up on it or work hard to finish it.

CrystalynDavidson (3)
I'm on the 33rd page and I wanna quit. Based on these reviews, I'm thinking I should, lest I waste my life finishing a drearily written book.
orangasaur (8)
I had the same problem, it took me a while. It wasn't until I was about 2/3rds of the way through that it picked up, but holy cow did it pick up. I had been reading pretty sluggishly but I sprinted through the ending in one sitting.
LoganJAlexander (15)
I'm about 60 pages in as well! I'm not entirely bored yet but I am definitely waiting for something to happen. This books kind of reminds me of that movie, Thirteen. Innocent girl, meets firecracker, and stuff blows up eventually. I have a feeling that this is what will occur with this book because of the way it's going so far. I would say stick with it! :)
EmilySemlak (10)
The book is totally reminding me of Thirteen as well!
LoganJAlexander (15)
The author commented on an instagram photo I posted of the book, and said she loved the movie Thirteen. So, I feel it's a fairly accurate description now :)
EmilySemlak (10)
Haha that's awesome!
SerinaMolina (2)
I'm 48 pages in and feeling the same way. I am a mom to two with little time to read and feel like I am wasting my time. I will continue and hopefully it will get better.
LoganJAlexander (15)
I'm just passing 103, and it's definitely starting to go somewhere! The beginning of the book is certainly a little slow and not super attention grabbing but it's starting to go, so stick with it! :)
GWeinstein (5)
I just finished it and I totally agree. I felt like around page 90 or so it started to get interesting finally and by the end I really liked it! It just took a while, but I'm glad to see other people found it slow as well in the beginning.
JessicaBrown (1)
I found the beginning of the book, and chunks of the middle, to be very slow as well. I'm currently on page 257 and it has transformed into a great read. I'm excited to learn how it will all unfold!