I have decided to not finish reading this book. I stopped at about 91%, when it became clear that the book would not come to a satisfying conclusion for me. I felt that I should only be just over the middle of the book with everything that I was still expecting to happen. Additionally, there was a backwards development in the female main character. I could just feel this coming to an end that would get me so emotionally down that I would get close to being in a similar state to her.
For not having finished the novel, I need to give it the lowest rating possible. I must admit that, as far as I have read this book. It hurts a bit and does not feel right. I did enjoy the book as far as I got. Even if the translation was very poor, which, however, cannot all be the translator, but must also be the authors fault.
From the beginning, I struggled to believe Johanna’s speedy recovery from depression. Generally, enjoyed reading about her life. Thomas was an equally interesting, if very stereotypical, but still an age-appropriate character. There certainly was exactly the kind of love at first sight development that I love so very much in books – even if there were a few too many and too planted complications.
Yes, the books was very often very unsurprising and cheesy and cliché, but that didn’t annoy me too much. It was Johanna’s way back into depression she obviously hasn’t dealt with correctly at the beginning, and her inability to realize what she has in life – though it did appear that she did in the middle of the book. So I stopped reading, looked at the spoiler-including reviews, and when they confirmed my doubts about the story that didn’t get a chance to be finished getting told, there was no more reason to read.
The book is about Johanna and Thomas, and the story of their romance.
Johanna, after the fatal accident of her parents when she was 15, fell into deep depression. Only many years later, after the death of her grandmother, she returns to life. Her brother convinces her to move to Vienna with him. There she meets, without knowing, her brother’s best friend Thomas at her new job at a cooking school. They fall in love at first sight.
Through some complications they find together, not for long, however. Thomas has to go to New York for work. He asks Johanna to wait for him in Vienna.
Why I Read The Book
The book was given to me by NetGalley, in return for an honest review.
I must admit, the title spoke to me most, because Vienna is not that far from my habitation. I was curious for finding German words in it.
Well, the theme of love at first sight certainly isn’t new. Doesn’t mean I won’t read every single book I can find about it. Other than having promised NetGalley a review, I was very curious how they would develop their romance, and how they would deal with the separation during his time in New York, of course always expecting a happy end.
Johanna is a hard to define character. I could follow her thoughts and reasons for her depression, felt her inability to enjoy life and find motivation to do things. However, I would have liked the description to be even deeper, because all I could compare it with was my teen angst years ago, not what I’d consider real depression. Therefore, I missed a depth of character in Johanna.
With the image I myself created of her depression, not the one that was actually and literally portrayed in the novel, I had a hard time understanding the quick development of her recovery from a depressed person to someone who enjoys life to the fullest. Suddenly, she had so many ideas and so much motivation and, most annoyingly of all, so much luck. Where did it all come from, when she never experienced any feelings like that before?
Most probably for that reason, she regressed almost as quickly.
Thomas was an interesting character, but in a way that I’m not sure it exactly is a good thing. At times, he was so utterly stereotypical man-that’s-still-a-boy and then he was an ever so responsible worker and everything he did was always so well and over-the-top explained that I’m not sure I did get to know him at all.
Most confusing was his relationship with Clarissa, before he met Johanna. He was totally into her, and then, at the same time, he absolutely wasn’t. I really didn’t understand him. Even more so than Johanna, his character attempted to have the necessary depth one needs in a novel, but he never quite reached it and convinced me as a proper well and through-through character.
Every other character was nothing more than a very unimportant side-character, even if Paolo could have been brilliant.
Realization and Writing Style
For the first few chapters, the book simply didn’t want to get started. Things just hopped from event to event, sometimes a little interrupted flashback, without any flow and connecting elements. The choice of words didn’t help this jumbled start. I was tempted to blame the translation for much of this unfortunate beginning – I am still highly amused about reading the English translation of a German book – but I think even the translator is helpless with certain creations.
When they finally meet – after many, many missed opportunities – it was simply perfection. And when they got together, after that silly and easy to avoid fight, they had the perfect romance. Yes, there’s a lot of perfection going on there. I just couldn’t follow the speed in which they were comfortable with each other, knowing each other so well, reading the other person like they’d known each other all their lives. Maybe it’s partly because I missed an in-depth character description, or more details on things they do together – not the love scenes, they were just fine, mostly – but just the general getting to know the other person. When they finally met and got together, the dragigng on of the former writing style just disappeared.
He saw her. She saw him. Time seemed to stand still.
But not only their romance in itself was a little too perfect. There was Johanna’s speedy and obviously superficial recovery from depression, her over-thinking of moments, her hitherto undiscovered talents – such as going dancing with Thomas, practicing in front of the mirror, and finally being able to impress him with her talent – or her hitherto undiscovered luck – such as finding the perfect job and rising the career ladder within months with no other experience in the field.
Or Thomas, the super-rich, almost-CEO of his uncle’s company, who manages to stay super fit and attractive even though his work is stressful and needs long hours. He has friends, likes to party, and overall appears to be a socialite and not only because of his super-model girlfriend.
How he, then, with all his perfection and immediate ability to understand Johanna, would think that she could cope without him and home-bound with a cast, and why in the world he thought it necessary to keep secrets from her that could never be kept secret, is beyond me. His biggest mistake was putting his work before his relationship.
Obviously, I don’t know exactly what happens in last few pages of the book, I only have what there is from the spoiler-including reviews, but I over all never anticipated this end to the story. I had so many hopes for their future, there were so many things they had dreamed about and that still had to happen, that I started wondering how this could all fit into the book, after I just passed the middle of it. It couldn’t.
My decision to stop was personal. Though it wasn’t the best book I’ve ever read, I would have finished it, had there been a slightly different development.
Idea: 1 Star (3 Stars)
Characters: 1 Star (2 Stars)
Realization: 1 Star (2 Stars)
Writing Style: 1 Star (3 Stars)
General Rating: 1 Star (3 Stars)
Personal Rating: 1 Star (2 Stars)
(Rating in brackets indicated actual rating up until the point of reading. Due to not finishing the book, all points of rating must me 1.)