Friday, May 17, 2013

Gadget Girl - Suzanne Kamata (+ Giveaway)

Gadget Girl - Suzanne Kamata
Gadget Girl by Suzanne Kamata
Publisher: Gemma Media
Publication Date: May 17, 2013
Source/Format: Author (Thanks!) || e-galley
[I received this book for review from the publisher. This in no way affects the thoughts expressed in my review.]

Aiko Cassidy is fourteen and lives with her sculptor mother in a small Midwestern town. For most of her young life Aiko, who has cerebral palsy, has been her mother's muse. But now, she no longer wants to pose for the sculptures that have made her mother famous and have put food on the table. Aiko works hard on her own dream of becoming a great manga artist with a secret identity. When Aiko's mother invites her to Paris for a major exhibition of her work, Aiko at first resists. She'd much rather go to Japan, Manga Capital of the World, where she might be able to finally meet her father, the indigo farmer. When she gets to France, however, a hot waiter with a passion for manga and an interest in Aiko makes her wonder if being invisible is such a great thing after all. And a side trip to Lourdes, ridiculous as it seems to her, might just change her life.

Three things about Gadget Girl immediately caught my eye - the cover, France and Japan. Reeled in even further by the promise of a cute contemporary story, I started and finished this novel in a matter of hours. Aiko's tale flows easily from scene to scene, setting to setting, and wraps up with an ending that's perfectly satisfying. If you're on the hunt for cute (and fairly unique) contemporary reads, this might be just the sort of thing you're looking for.

Aiko is the kind of female character I generally love: quirky and unique and all sorts of wonderful. Even though Aiko generally keeps to herself (mostly because of her condition), her thoughts are very entertaining! One of her particularly admirable traits is her dedication to her art, as she consistently works on a manga entitled, you guessed it, Gadget Girl. It's also pretty cool to see how she doesn't let her cerebral palsy get to her when it comes to living her life, as she constantly seems courageous enough to go on a bunch of adventures (particularly when she arrives in France!).

Aiko has always been her mother's muse, since her mom is pretty determined to make the world aware of cerebral palsy through her art. Their relationship is one of the things I liked reading about in the book, because we see both the good parts and the not-so-good parts of it in this book. Aiko's mom is pretty cool and very determined to make her daughter feel normal in spite of the condition (which is what she thinks her art does).  It's been Aiko and her mom against the world for as long as Aiko can remember, and that's something that really reinforces their bond. On the not-so-good side, Aiko has issues with her mom constantly using her as a muse. Plus, sometimes, when she gets too into her art, she doesn't necessarily pay very much attention to Aiko or taking care of things (like making sure they're fed properly for instance!). In the end, one thing is clear to us -- Aiko loves her mom, and her mom loves her too.

I enjoyed reading about the other characters, like Whitney (Aiko's best friend) and Herve (a boy Aiko meets in France). But my favorite character has got to be Raoul, who is Aiko's mother's latest boyfriend. He completely won me over with how charming and kind he was to Aiko. It was so fun to read about him being a superb cook, particularly since his food always sounded so delicious!

The setting of this book was also a standout - particularly the parts that were set in France. It was fun to read about Aiko's adventures in Paris, particularly in terms of the food she ate and the places she was able to visit. And she also took a side trip with her mother to Lourdes, which was very interesting indeed as I rarely hear of that setting mentioned in fictional books! I've always dreamed of visiting France myself, so to sort of get the chance to do that was definitely a bonus.

Story-wise, Kamata takes a risk by juggling so many various threads in Aiko's experience. There's the longing she has to meet her father, even though she knows nothing but the most basic things about him. There's the complications of the relationship she has with her mother. Then there's her dream of becoming a manga artist -- if she can manage to be brave enough to reveal that she creates Gadget Girl. And, of course, there's her first experiences with love and romance. Even with all of these things happening to Aiko, Kamata does a great job keeping them all equally balanced in the telling of this story. None of the stories really falter, though I do think the way that certain things ended (particularly the bit with her father) was a bit too neat for my tastes.

My only real reservations about Gadget Girl? I wish I'd felt more connected to Aiko. I did like her a lot, but I wasn't personally invested in her character and remained on the fringes as an observer. I also wish that there had been bits of the Gadget Girl manga included, because it would have been really cool to see the product of Aiko's hard work!

Gadget Girl is really a quick, enjoyable read that will keep you occupied for a couple of hours! I was entertained as I followed Aiko on all her adventures, including when she had her "moment of truth". It's always fun to read an easy, contemporary novel  every now and then, and Kamata did a good job with this one!

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As part of the blog tour, there's also a giveaway. For details about the prize and the rules, please see the widget I've included below:



Check out the rest of the tour stops!

9 comments:

  1. Thank you so much, Alexa! I'm glad you enjoyed the book!!

    Suzanne

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  2. Awesome review!! I'm a francophile too and I just LOVE books set in France! Aiko sounds amazing and interesting though it's a shame that you couldn't connect that well with her... Will be eyeing this book :)

    Alicia @ Summer Next Top Story

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  3. Yay glad you enjoyed it, Alexa! Aiko sounds like my kind of character who has a great sense of humor and really just admirable! I don't think I've ever read a book with someone with cerebral palsy it kind of intrigues me. France settings are always favs of mine, too! I love the Amy Plum books mostly for the setting. Great review, doll!

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  4. It's a shame that you weren't as personally invested in Aiko's character as you could have been, but I'm glad you still liked her. The quirky types usually work very well for me! I like the sound of a story set in France, too. There's just something about that that always appeals to me... :) Lovely review!

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  5. Lovely review, Alexa. I love the blurb for this book and have been curious about it for a couple of weeks, so it's good to see you enjoyed it. Shame you couldn't totally connect with her, that always bugs me...I think, yep it was good but it could have been awesome with that crucial connect. Still, a good reads a good read so I'll be sure to give this a whirl - the writing sounds promising and the plot original. Also, given that a two of my friends have CP I think it's a shame that I haven't read about an MC with cerebral palsy before.

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  6. Blah, I suck at reading because I asked you on twitter if there were pictures AND THEN you go on to mention there are not.

    Alas.

    Gadget Girl sounds really cool, to be honest. Like, I think Aiko sounds legit and I am all about characateres who have humor. AND AND differently abled heroines!

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  7. Sounds cool - I love the cover too and I always like books with well realized settings. (Plus, a friend growing up had CP. You don't see many characters with it.)

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  8. This one sounds really cool! I haven't read anything with the heroine having CP. I'll be adding this to my TBR for sure

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  9. All three of those things caught my eye too! I'm glad you enjoyed this overall even if you didn't quite connect to AIko. :)

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Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)

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