Sadly, I ended up disliking most aspects of this novel. It might appeal to those looking for a light summer read that isn’t necessarily funny or moving.
Throughout the novel I had the impression that I was reading an early draft rather than a completed and published version of a book.
➜The story as such seemed incomplete. We have the inciting incident (Dean becomes Evvie’s tenant) and then nothing much beyond that happens. It seems they start experiencing romantic feelings for each other during their very first meeting (insta-love, yay) and I never bought into their relationship. They had stilted conversation and their flirting was painful to read (there was this attempt to make their banter ‘playful’ but it ended up being babyish and completely cringeworthy).
➜The relationship between Evvie and Dean is meant to ‘propel’ the story…but given how flat these characters are, I had little interest in their ‘budding’ romance. The whole “let’s fix each other” trope was handled in a way that made a lot of their actions seem invasive, controlling, and downright bad (eg. stalking, invasion of privacy). Within a few chapters I found that their personalities were non-existent and that their actual ‘character’ completely hinged on a trauma (Dean’s character can’t throw straight anymore while Evvie is keeping a secret about her relationship to her now dead husband).
➜Side characters were rather clichéd. Evvie’s best friend happens to be a man and initially I appreciated their platonic relationship so I was disappointed by the way it was portrayed. Other characters were entirely forgettable and bland. Evvie’s husband is the classic ‘bad/cold guy’ who is nice to most people except his wife. I guess that having a not so nuanced character makes it easier for him to seem just ‘bad’ (making Evvie some sort of sympathetic martyr).
➜It was so boring. The characters and the story had so little to offer. Their conversations were worded in such a way that they offered little clarity (for example Evvie recounts some an event for two pages in a way that made little sense).
An uneventful story + lack of humour + superficial relationships + little emotion…and there you have it: Evvie Drake Starts Over. Maybe readers who can look past the unimaginative writing style will be able to appreciate this more than I did…
My rating: ★★✰✰✰ 2 stars