Friday, April 19, 2013

Just Finished: For Internal Use Only

I was really looking forward to reading For Internal Use Only, Cari Kamm's latest novel. I read her debut novel Fake Perfect Me awhile back (review is here) and even though I didn't love it, there was something about it that made me pay attention to when Kamm would be releasing a new novel. When I was asked to review For Internal Use Only, I read the synopsis, liked what I read, and agreed to a review. Once I finally received my copy I dove in and...well...I struggled. I wanted to like it but there were just too many things that kept me from thinking, "This book is awesome."

Here's the synopsis:
Chloe Kassidy has just been accepted into one of Manhattan’s most exclusive art exhibits, Love Through Light. However, with her singular dedication to her career, she soon realizes that in sacrificing her personal life, she has never been in love. A hopeless romantic who is terrified of heartbreak, Chloe begins to enlist the help of her circle of friends to learn about love through their very different stories and experiences.
In Chloe’s emotional rollercoaster to having the greatest love story ever told, she’ll learn that like her photography she must use the negatives in life to develop and prove that she’s a strong woman who found her way to love through light.
Inspired by the notion that women grow up with ideas of true love and destiny, For Internal Use Only approaches those ideas with a decidedly twenty-first century viewpoint. A humorous love story with an edgy and dramatic twist, For Internal Use Only is a vastly entertaining novel that gives each of us a new fairy tale to look forward to: our own.
I have to be honest: this book was almost a Did Not Finish and that is a very rare thing for me. As I mentioned, I really struggled with it (my family can verify that as I was reading it when I was back home for the Easter long weekend and I was fairly vocal with my thoughts as I was reading this one.) First of all, the whole main plot isn't even mentioned in the synopsis. Chloe is introduced via email to a guy by someone she apparently met at a book club she was being dragged to and the majority of the novel is about her developing a relationship with this guy. The only allusion to this in the synopsis is the "edgy and dramatic twist." And the synopsis also refers to her friends helping her figure love out. Not really the case. She hardly tells them anything about her love life and I really wished she had. That wasn't just because I was worried about her safety (I was) but because I felt like I needed more scenes with her friends. They didn't seem like they were as close as they were based on how they interacted.

Second, the flow of the novel was really off. This isn't normally something I notice unless I don't like it because it disrupts how I'm reading the book. There were times that I was genuinely confused about what just happened in the story. For example, Chloe starts talking about how the Disney Princess notion of Prince Charming has screwed up many a female from a few generations. True, we've heard that argument before and I have no problem with it. What I did have a problem with was that she suddenly started talking about her strained relationship with her mother. I reread the section probably three times and still couldn't come up with a connection. This was just one example but there were other occasions where I wasn't sure how things were connected or felt that I was missing some information.

It wasn't just the flow that caused me issues but also some of the word choices. At times I felt that the way things were described were too...well, honestly I've been struggling with a good adjective for a few weeks. It's not quite pretentious or academic and not quite as simple as being too wordy. Instead of saying "closed my eyes," Kamm wrote something along the lines of 'eyelashes fluttered against my cheek' or something (I didn't mark the page so I'm not sure of the exact phrasing.) I handed the book to my mom to check out and after just reading a page or so she was able to see why I was struggling (but, unfortunately, was not able to help me pinpoint exactly what the issue was.)

Obviously, you can tell that For Internal Use Only was not a winner for me. So why did I write the review? Because not all books and reviews can be filled with sunshine and lollipops, right? And just because I don't like it doesn't mean that others wouldn't. In fact, if you pop over to the book's Goodreads page, you'll see that many others really enjoyed it. I'm always going to write an honest review and that's why I included the review of Cari Kamm's latest. I will say that I really liked how things eventually turned out for Chloe, even if there were some rough patches along the way. I had a hunch about how things would work out and I'm really glad I was right. Oh, and I love the cover!

So, long review short, I didn't love this book. I'm not even sure if I really liked it. But remember, I'm just one opinion out here in the land of book bloggers.

*I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review*


  1. I can always count on your reviews, Kaley!

  2. It sucks when you come across a book that you have to struggle to finish. I always feel really guilty about that! Loved your honest review!


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