UPDATE: You can now see some pictures of my stay in Montmartre on the blog, along with this review! Click here to check it out!
There were a lot of reasons why I really wanted to read Starry Nights.La première raison
:The setting is in France. I love
France. I studied there for a while, stayed for a bit in Strasbourg, Paris, and Épernay, and spent time with a few foster families. My boyfriend is French. I love their champagne. You get the picture. I'm not the ultimate Francophile, but that country has a special place in my heart. C'est claire?La deuxième raison
: J'adore les arts!
I absolutely love art. The time I spent walking inside Musée du Louvre was one of the best 3 hours of my life. Art coming to life sounds pretty awesome, if you ask me, so this book really took the word "excitement" to a whole different level.Starry Nights
therefore had the perfect recipe. I was absolutely ready to devour this book and love every minute and every page, ready for it to give me that precious nostalgia of my time in France - all that art, history, and l'amour
... but alas! It was not meant to be. In the end, I only felt disappointment that left an overwhelming bitter taste in my mouth.First of all, it's set in France.
In Paris. Paris, while not exactly my favorite city in the world, is still a magical place that's very distinct from other cities; it has something that sets it apart from others. Be it la tour Eiffel
, or the lack of high-rise buildings, or that coffee shop Paul
that seems to be everywhere, whatever. The thing is... Paris is different. So why the hell wasn't it described enough? You can't just throw in the picture of Eiffel tower on the cover and expect us to just imagine the place automatically.
Throughout the book, I was waiting for the details of the place, but there were almost none. Paris wasn't represented enough, wasn't illustrated enough. I couldn't picture anything. It didn't give the City of Love justice.
Sure, it's not a travel guide. I'm not expecting this book to give me a vivid, bright picture of what Paris looks like, but DUDE. What's the point of putting the characters and the plot in a different setting and not describe it at least in moderate detail, not give enough information with regards to what it looks like?
I was expecting this book to take me back there, to give me that French vibe, but honestly, with the way the novel turned out, it felt like it could've taken place anywhere. It threw the names Musée d'Orsay and Musée du Louvre around, but lol, it felt like it could've been any other Museum. It didn't feel special at all.Like for example, the place Montmartre was thrown. They were supposed to meet some people there, and the only description I've gotten was the fact there was a steep hill with lots of streets. LOL!!! Really? REALLY?
I stayed in Montmartre for a few days and I can describe it better than what was given in less than a minute. There's Moulin Rouge, there are at least two metros (there are probably more though), there's like a street full of sex shops, there's a steep hill with a famous restaurant that was in a Hollywood movie once, on top of the hill is Le Sacré Cœur, and there's a sort of bazaar nearby full of artists that would sell their works from €30-€200. And oh, there are a LOT of shady kids waiting by the metro entrances that would ask you to donate money for the blind and would NOT leave you the fuck alone 'til you do so (unless you're stealthy and sneaky).
Anyway, before I get sidetracked, what I mean to say is the setting was very underwhelming. The city, the museums, it didn't give me that magical feeling, not even the feeling of nostalgia, or that feeling we're somewhere different from the usual American town/city, and this aspect therefore turned out very disappointing.
It definitely had so much potential, but in the end, it felt like being given a hamburger with no meat (I'm hungry, okay >_<). One of the things that made this story interesting at first was its paranormal aspect. For Julien, the things or people in the paintings he's surrounded with come alive at night. They go out of their bronze or silver frames and manifest themselves in the flesh, totally giving us that Night at the Museum vibes.
Unfortunately, this aspect felt underwhelming. Once again, I'm not expecting an art guide or anything like that, but Paris is the city of art and history. Centuries ago, art thrived here. It lived here. And until now, countless paintings still hang the walls of different museums all around the country, including paintings from the 13th century and those even older than that. You'd think more pieces of art would be featured, even in passing, but it just fell short.
This is another reason why Musée d'Orsay and Musée du Louvre felt lacking - not many paintings were presented, at least the paintings that make Musée d'Orsay THE Musée d'Orsay or the Louvre THE Louvre. Get what I mean? Thus, it felt like it was any other museum.In short, it did not feel French. It did not feel like it was in France. And therefore, I didn't even connect to the characters because everything else felt so inadequate and inefficient.
I wish I could care more, care about Julien's powers coming to light and his falling in love with one of the paintings, but I couldn't. I didn't. And besides, insta-love? Really? :/ I never understood this one... you hang out for a couple of hours and you love each other already? Sure, it must have happened in real life several times, but it's often exaggerated in fiction and I can't get its appeal.There were a lot of things about the plot that bugged me, too.
Dude, Musée d'Orsay and Musée du Louvre are really bigshots when it comes to the preservation of artifacts and history. These institutions are well-guarded, and I'm pretty sure there are CCTV cameras all over the place, so how the frack did Julien sneak in and get away with it every night? It must have been explained later, and I may have missed it, but it was still unbelievable how he stayed a little before midnight, touched the paintings, and sneaked out at 2 or 1 o clock in the morning each and every time. Uhh... sure...It also really bugged me how his best friend easily accepted Julien's "paranormal powers" like they were just talking about the weather.
The build-up was lacking, there wasn't enough tension to build excitement... the list could go on and on. And that ending? SUPER CONVENIENT.
Ugh, it still pisses me off whenever I think about it. I didn't even feel sad because I kind of knew things would become all right without much trouble, and I felt crushed when my hunch was right.Perhaps I am not this book's audience.
Perhaps it would appeal more to those who are looking for a fluffy, romantic read, those who don't overanalyze and those who don't care for much exposition. If you're that kind of person, you may enjoy this. Despite my complaints, I did think it was a decent story, but it just wasn't for me.Final Verdict: 2.5 / 5