The first thing that caught my attention with this book was its title. If you have ever watched or read The Princess Bride, then you know EXACTLY what I’m referencing! I for sure thought the author would put that in somewhere in the story. But the story itself is very interesting, and that’s what made me decide to read this book. Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for my honest review:
Synopsis (Goodreads): In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.
Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.
One of the first things I want to say is that the cover I have uploaded is very different than the final cover of the book. While I loved this cover on the ARC, I completely understand why the author changed the final design; the newer look is more relevant to the story. Also, there was no reference to The Princess Bride, which made me sad. But that’s not what the story was about in the first place so I can’t really be upset about it, can I?
Now, onto the story itself. The premise was certainly interesting. Who hasn’t thought about what they would wish for if they could? I certainly have, and I could really understand why Eldon struggled with the anxiety of making the perfect wish. The story is all about Eldon’s journey as the date to his wish day looms closer, and how he tries to figure out what is the right wish for him. Through his experience, the reader gets to hear about others’ wishes, including the reasons behind those wishes and the outcomes.
I think my issue with the novel was Eldon. He is a self-proclaimed jerk and all of his actions show that he lives up to the title. Everyone thinks he’s a jerk, and he certainly acts like one. I thought that the reason for making him like this was so that he would change at the end…. but he doesn’t. He stays a jerk until the very end, and only then does he show that he may finally be trying to change. It was very difficult for me to feel sympathy for him because of his attitude, and his lack of growth. There were times when I felt sorry for him because of what happened with his sister, and there were times when I could understand how his anger and anxiety caused him to behave in a certain way. But overall? I really couldn’t connect with him or like him enough to care. He’s also very judgmental about everyone and it started to grate on my nerves.
There is also no real plot to this story. The same concept is touted throughout the entire book. People make wishes. People aren’t happy with them. Some of the wish stories that are told are a little bit too far-fetched for me, like the one about wishing one’s gayness away and never being able to feel emotions again. What?! How does that even happen?! I get that this story was all about decisions and living with regret, but there was just so much of that and little of anything else. It got tedious.
Ultimately, this novel was trying too hard to be a lot of things, ending with it just not living up to anything. It sounded like an awesome magical realism story, but the writing style, lack of plot and growth, and bad main character bogged the story down. I finished it feeling disappointed, which is a shame because the novel really had a lot of potential. I’m giving it a 2/5 stars.