Posted in Books

“No Offense” isn’t just bad . . . it’s kinda offensive

I’ve been a Meg Cabot fan forever, since I picked up my first Princess Diaries book. While she’s best known for that series, Cabot is a prolific writer, and has dozens of novels available for both teen and adult audiences. I loved her Size 12 is Not Fat series, and the Queen of Babble trilogy. Her romances are engaging, her heroines are plucky, and I’ve always found her books enjoyable. I say all this to explain that it brings me no pleasure to hate on No Offense, her latest romance coming out August 11.

This is the second book in a new series of seaside romances set in small town Little Bridge, one of the islands in the Florida Keys. It follows arrived librarian Molly Montgomery, an unlucky-in-love new resident in Little Bridge, and John Hartwell, the sheriff. They bump heads when John is called to investigate a baby abandoned in the library bathroom, and sparks fly, despite their differing world views. Molly thinks that no one could abandon a baby in a bathroom without a good reason, and John thinks that anyone who could do it should face consequences. Both endeavor to find the baby’s mother, while John simultaneously juggles his teen daughter, and a thief breaking and entering all over town.

This book has a lot of problems, the worst of which is the main couple. Neither is all that compelling, and both lack enough traits to make up a personality. John is a career cop, which doesn’t really play well in this day and age, when the public is rapidly realizing that policing as it is traditionally undertaken in America does more harm than good. There isn’t a lot to him besides his job and his kid. Molly has a similar problem, she seems like an amalgamation of what people think of older millennials- she loves true crime, stalks her ex on social media, and drinks wine pretty much whenever she’s not at work. While Cabot’s protagonists usually like a drink or two, Molly might actually be an alcoholic. She gets drunk at a city function, as the guest of a prominent resident, and she is a city employee. She’s also intensely cringey. Also, as a library employee, I was personally taken aback at how little research Cabot appeared to have done about library operations. Completely inaccurate, with the notable exception of when a guy yells at Molly for no reason- that’s spot-on. Just to give an example, Molly keeps books in her bathroom. In her bathroom, where the moisture and the steam is. I can’t think of a self-respecting librarian who would expose books to that kind of environment.

48836843I saw my other main issue of this book written cleverly in another review, which I was unfortunately unable to track down. Basically, all of Cabot’s books now are “white woman solves mystery with associated man, featuring ethnic best friend.” Given how much better her other books are, it’s really sad to read this phoned-in claptrap.

I wasn’t originally going to write a review of No Offense, but then I saw it on a couple lists of exciting books coming out this summer, and I felt bad. Don’t waste your time on this, go read one of Cabot’s better books. I promise, they’re just as romantic and much less disappointing.

No Offense will be published August 11, 2020, and can be found wherever books are sold, or at your local library. You can also purchase it on Amazon using our affiliate code. The reviewer was provided with a advanced reader’s edition in exchange for an honest review.

3 thoughts on ““No Offense” isn’t just bad . . . it’s kinda offensive

  1. That’s too bad that her new book isn’t what you were hoping it would be. I really love her earlier series, personally. (The Mediator series is my favourite) and I loved the Size 12 is Not Fat series too. I write and edit novels and I think about this a lot: is it possible for white, cis gender authors to write authentically from a diverse point of view? (I think it’s absolutely important to do this).

    1. Yeah, I was really sad that it was such a disappointment- her work is usually pretty reliably good and it’s been a comfort read for me for a while. I definitely think it’s possible for white, cis authors to write from another point of view, but I’ve seen it done most successfully with perspective editors. If white cis folks want to write stories with characters who do not fit their life experiences, they have to do the work! I feel similarly about men writing women, which can sometimes completely ruin a book for me.

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