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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Review: Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise #2) by Simone Elkeles

*I don’t recommend reading this review unless you’ve read Leaving Paradise first as it does contain some spoilery goodness from Leaving Paradise*

Release Date: September 1, 2010
Publisher: Flux
Genre: Realistic/Contemporary Fiction, Romance
Age Group: Young Adult
Pages: 302
Source: Bought

Blurb (from Goodreads)

Maggie and Caleb just went through the worst year of their lives. Hit by a car and starting life over with a limp, Maggie never thought she would forgive Caleb. But she did—and fell in love. What they shared was real. But Caleb wanted to be free from the past—and a terrible secret: he wasn't the one who hit Maggie. So he left Paradise—and Maggie—forever. When Maggie and Caleb run into each other in a different town, they can't deny their true feelings. Will Maggie let Caleb get away again? Or will Caleb face the truth and return to Paradise?

The Quickie Review

Okay so confession, ever since I found out there was going to be a sequel to Leaving Paradise I had high hopes and expectations (perhaps a little too high?) for the sequel unfortunately however those expectations were not met, I was underwhelmed even though Return to Paradise has everything you've come to expect from a Simone Elkeles novel including a gorgeous yet tormented boy, an insecure girl and a very satisfying ending (if you like everything tied up nicely) that is just as sweet and sugary as I've come to expect from Ms. Elkeles' novels.

The Full Blown Review

It's been eight months since Caleb just up and left Paradise, leaving Maggie behind after their brief and tumultuous relationship, Caleb hasn't even contacted Maggie in that time, however circumstances soon conspire to place these two together again with explosive consequences.

Leaving Paradise begins with a police raid on the “house” (and I use that term very lightly, it was really a drug manufacturing house) Caleb is living in and once again Caleb is caught on the wrong side of the law. However, Caleb is given a reprieve from being sent straight back to jail if he joins the Re-START program where teens whose lives have been impacted by reckless driving travel around for a month sharing their stories with other teens. Sounds simple enough for Caleb but wait for it, I think you’ll guess it, he didn’t bank on the fact that Maggie would also be in the same program *da,da,da*. It is evident from their first meeting Maggie is still mad (and rightfully so) at Caleb and just wants to try and ignore him whilst Caleb just wants to get the whole program over and done with but being Maggie and Caleb these two can’t stay away from each other. How will Maggie and Caleb cope with being together for a whole month, will they finally get their happily ever after ending, well you’ll just have to read the book to find out!

First off I have to say I really wanted to love this as much as Leaving Paradise (to read my gushing love click HERE), I really did, but alas I just couldn’t there were just too many coincidences (I mean being placed together in the Re-START program, hmmm I’m not sure about that which was a problem because basically the whole story is based around this) not to mention Caleb who transformed from this gorgeous swoonworthy male in Leaving Paradise to this really angry character, okay you know what I’m just going to say it he was a bit pricky, oh Simone Elkeles why did you have to do that? Most of the interactions he had with Maggie and the other teens on the Re-START program were just mean and antagonistic which for me wasn’t Caleb at all.

Whilst Caleb seemed to have regressed I’m happy to say that in Return to Paradise Maggie was a much more confident character but she still was pretty cheesed that Caleb just upped and left her without even telling her it wasn’t him that hit her that night but his sister Leah. Maggie seemed to have accepted her situation a lot better compared to what she was like in Leaving Paradise, her friendship with Leah was also slowly starting to repair, it seemed that Maggie was finally able to forgive which is an important step in healing. Once Maggie meets Caleb again she is conflicted about her feelings towards him which whilst she knew they were not completely gone, she thought she had accepted his absence from her life, but has she?

Once again the book alternatives between both Caleb and Maggie’s point of view which really worked in the first book and does once again because we as readers can see what’s going on in both Caleb and Maggie’s heads. Occasionally this caused me some frustration when it was plainly obvious they both still cared for each other but they were both being so stubborn about it, argh it’s getting me annoyed again, see what I mean frustrating.

Now I’m the kind of person who likes happy endings that end nicely I guess you could call them cheesy endings, I love the cheese factor, but for some people they want an ending with a bit more substance, now I’m not saying the ending didn’t have any substance but it was very cheesy then again I guess it’s not completely unexpected if you’ve read any of Simone’s other novels (I’m talking about you perfect chemistry/rules of attraction). Basically what I’m trying to say is I liked the ending, it was very sweet and we had a conclusion but I don’t believe everyone will be satisfied with it.

Overall Return to Paradise was just an okay read for me, there seemed to be something missing in Return to Paradise that Leaving Paradise had. However, I did like how everything ended nicely and we did get a conclusion.


3.5 out of 5


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Romy @
Greetings fellow blog readers, welcome to my blog and thank you for stopping by. Now you may be wondering who is Well is also known as Romy, a 23 year old graduate student from Australia who loves to read. I read (maybe devour would be a more appropriate word) largely young adult novels, with a particular love of fantasy and paranormal novels, however I am also a sucker for a good romance.
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