Top critical review
'Beach magic. Maybe it works after all'.
on 21 February 2016
I believe 'Driftwood' was one of the first Cathy Cassidy books I ever read. I must have been about ten at the time, and I remembered quite liking it, although I had no recollection of the actual story.
The book is set by the coast, in Scotland, and is told from the perspective of a girl named Hannah. Hannah is friends with Joey, a kooky wild-child, with stripy hair, mismatched socks and a passion for Good Charlotte. Hannah's older brother, Kit, has been crushing on Joey for as long as Hannah can remember, but, when Joey begins to return those feelings....well, things get a little awkward. And then, to complicate things even further, Joey's new foster brother, Paul, is added to the mix, bringing with him a trio of kittens, a zebra print bicycle, and a whole lot of beach magic. But, beneath the surface, Paul is inwardly drowning in his own problems. Is it possible to save a friend who's lost at sea?
Ok, despite my ten year old self thinking of this book as being quite good, my present-day self does not agree.
I didn't think much of any of the characters. Joey was still my favourite character, just as she was when I first read the novel. When I was ten, I thought Joey sounded like the coolest person ever, and I wanted to be just like her, and wear mini-kilts, and dye my hair green and pink. I didn't, of course. Now, when I read about her, she still seems exciting in comparison to the other characters, but it was glaringly apparent to me, that Cathy Cassidy had tried really hard to create a rebellious teen girl, somewhat of a badass, and it was too cliché to really be believable. Not only this, but she also attempted to make the book appealing by including what she clearly believes to be 'cool teenage lingo'. At one point, Hannah refers to Joey and Kit being on 'Planet Slush', and it's really a head-in-hands moment.
As for the other characters- well they did nothing for me. Kit was just a total idiot, there's no way around that fact. I just wanted to punch him, he was such a jerk. What was Joey THINKING, going out with him? Not that Paul was much better as a love interest. Ok, so firstly, there was next to no romance between him and Hannah, which was a bit of a letdown. Secondly, he was a bit...well, nothingy, I guess. His personality was zero- I wasn't exactly rooting for him. I mean, sure, I felt sorry for him, he went through a lot, but I was hardly there with pom-poms, jumping up and down, screaming 'Woo! Go Paul! You can do it! You can beat the bullies and get the girl! You go get your happily ever after!'
And as for Hannah...for a protagonist, she was really nothing special. I mean, like Paul, her personality was non-existent. Not once did she do something that made me gasp, made me sit up a little straighter.
I think the dull characters were really what made the book such a flop. Because of their utter boringness, the plot was also very boring. Well, I say 'plot'- there wasn't one, really. It was just a 192-page account of the goings-on of a group of teenage friends, which didn't make for a very good story. The ending was a disappointment too. I mean, it was just so predictable, and really, too perfect to be believable. Everything worked out just so, meaning that every character got exactly what they were looking for, and everyone lived happily ever after, and in reality, that just would not happen. Cathy Cassidy had all the loose ends tied up just a little too conveniently, for my liking.
Also, can we just talk about the age thing again? In the last couple of Cathy Cassidy books I've read, recently, the age misjudgement hasn't been too terrible, but in this...no, twelve year olds are not portrayed correctly here. Twelve year olds do not dress as Joey does- they're pretty new to Secondary School, and wouldn't dare, wouldn't even THINK of rebelling against the school uniform code in that way. It's just the way they are. Twelve year olds do not develop proper romantic feelings for one another, especially not with people older than them, as is the case with Joey and Kit.
I mean, to be honest, I disliked this book more than 'Sundae Girl', and that's saying something.
I'd rate this book....
2 out of 10 stars.