The Last Snow of Winter
Author: Ian Muise
As spring break arrives, Mark Poole is focused on his goal of becoming a veterinarian, set on pleasing his proud parents even though he really wants to be artist. He also carefully keeps his desires frozen-for their sake. But he can’t help the attraction he feels for the burly, unapproachable lineman who shares two of his classes.Cliff Stevens is equally set on achieving his adopted dream of becoming a professional football player to the exclusion of almost everything else. Cliff drifts through the days alone, but he can guess what Mark has in mind when he catches him watching one day.After an accidental encounter, Cliff proposes a bargain: for one week during the break, they will set aside their reservations and play at being together, exploring each other and perhaps even learning a little about themselves as well.
Its weird, normally when I don’t like a book, I can pick that one element that made it so for me – the characterization, a situation that I couldn’t get past the believability (even in fiction), but in this book, there just wasn’t that one thing overall that I could pinpoint – it was more of a general dislike. I chose to read it for 3 reasons – 1) it was on a list of challenge books in one of my goodreads groups that I had to pick from; 2) it was a new to me author and I am always interested in trying those out and 3) it fit for another reading challenge (snow in the title) – so there were multiple reasons why – and while some of my GR friends had given it iffy reviews, my normal ones that I look and trust hadn’t read it – so I decided to give it a chance – I kind of wish, I had paid more attention to the naysayers.
I think my biggest issue, if I was to chose one, was how dated it felt. The book was published in 2010 and as far as I could tell (there were no specific dates mentioned), it was supposed to be a contemporary. However, it was set in a college where the students didn’t have their own computers – the one main character had to go to a computer lab (and get permission to use it) in order to write his term papers. Now, maybe I am out of the loop, but when I graduated college in 2005, all of the students had their own computers, it was basically a requirement – yes, we did have a computer lab off campus but that was for the math/engineering types who had to have all those sorts of funky programs (I took one class there and never again) – so it was very disconcerting to read about it when I couldn’t even point out the time period. I mean, if it had been maybe set 10 years earlier (and mentioned in the book), it would have been more believeable.
My second issue was that in general, I just never really connected with the characters – there were just too one-dimensional – Mark, the primary main character was going to be a veterinarian because that is what he thought was a good and acceptable job to counter the fact that he was gay – but it just didn’t ring true – most people I know who want to be doctors/lawyers/vets – anything that requires multiple years of school need to have that passion. From the description, I also thought that he was in veterinary school already – I mean, with the term – “focused on his goal of becoming a veterinarian” as the first line in the description – but he was really pre-vet doing his undergraduate degree.
The other character, Cliff, I felt was slightly better as a character – but there was still just something that didn’t work. He kept pushing for things and then all of a sudden did a 180 degree character turn – which resulted in my biggest pet peeve the “huge misunderstanding,” which was ultimately solved wayyy to quickly…
As a review, I’m personally not a fan of writing negative reviews, I mean, I hate it when I have to write about how much I dislike a book – and yet, I think that sometimes they are needed. In this case, I felt strongly enough about it in a negative light that a review was warranted. Overall, I would give it 1.5 stars – I finished it because I needed to and while i had major issues as described above, the writing wasn’t bad – there weren’t any major grammatical errors or anything like that. It just didn’t quite work for me.