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Howdy YAL!

I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies. 

Because the Title Says it All: My Boyfriend Merlin by Priya Ardis

My Boyfriend Merlin - Priya Ardis

Before I begin, I'll just say right now I ignored the typo on the title.  I wish I didn't.  The fact that this is a revised version, I think says more than enough about the book (because hello, that error would be one of the first things I fixed).


Why would anyone want to be Merlin's girlfriend:

A) They watched the BBC version of Merlin where he's not five billion years old.

B) You're really into old dude's that age backwards and appear in Disney movies.

C) Being Merlin's girlfriend means you're closer to getting into Arthur or Lancelot's pants or


D) You fell instantly in love with him because he has a motorcycle.

If you chose D then you are the heroine in this drippy novel who has so many names she could be a fan fiction Mary Sue, except she goes by the name Ryan of all things.

Never mind when I think of Ryan I usually don't think of a drippy Mary Sue, but whatever.  I have actually known girls named Ryan so it's not that big of a stretch if she wouldn't have the four name things.

And the whole issue with the names sort of sums up the problems with Ardis's book.

Don't worry, I'm actually going to explain them to you, unless you're reading this review on GoodReads which means you're just getting my summary statement and links but moving on....

The biggest problem in this book was that there was never exposition things were just thrown at you and it was overkill.  Like the naming thing.

And when the book is so heavily rooted in the Arthurian legend with no explanation whatsoever and when Merlin in such a central character to the novel, you know it's sort of going to suck.

Big time.

I will be honest, when I first started this book I didn't have high standards.  And it's not because of the various obvious grammatical error in the title, or the title itself, the Miley Cyrus wannabe title...I've just been down this road with Kindle freebies one to many times.  And I was actually cutting it some slack for about the first ten percent.

I made a note about it in one of my status updates and wondered why exactly was I cutting it some slack.  Was it because it was independently published?  I hate saying it, but I feel in part yes.  I know saying that sort of makes me sound pretentious and snooty, but after dealing with the Amazon slush pile (as I call it) I usually don't expect that high quality in indies.  For every Nenia Campbell and Jennifer L Armentrout you get triple the amount of books that don't grasp the English language, thinks it's okay to put their slightly changed fan fic for sale, and/or has no concept of pacing or characterization.

I'll be honest, I've sort of gotten to the point with these books I curve them.  Yes, I review them objectively, but normal things that wouldn't get you a point in my rating system like good grammar, well, with Indys you might get a point.  It might seem unfair that I curve these books, and I guess it is...but that's the law school in me coming out.  And to be honest, to me it's more sad than unfair since I really truly believe that if done right an independent published book should be better than a traditional published book since the author has more control over the project.

The slack I was giving this book though, ultimately failed once the plot got moving and it had no exposition whatsoever.  I mean, seriously, if I hadn't paid attention during English class during our Arthurian unit and read Meg Cabot's Avalon High and watched the crappy movie version of it, I wouldn't have gotten about half of the stuff that went on. 

And for the other half....I wonder?  No, I'm not going to say it.  There's nothing showing that it might be I don't know Harry Potter/Starcrossed/Arthurian fan fiction save for the fact that the main characters go to a boarding school in England that teaches magic and that they're all the descendants of powerful people and that the Greek gods are somehow meshed here in some convoluted way to how the Arthurian figures were meshed in in the last book of the  Starcrossed series.

That's probably annoyance more than anything else.  But this book really wasn't that original.

When it could've been pretty original because unlike some mythologies the Arthurian legend hasn't been totally shitted on by YA yet (I'm sure it's only a matter of time). 

So yeah....all that King Arthur stuff it made less sense than the King Arthur stuff in A Kid in King Arthur's Court.


That's bad people.

It didn't even have decent characters to halfway hide it's ass-ey (is ass-ey a word?) world-building. 

The main character.  Yuck.  She's just bland and annoying.  I don't even understand what her deal is, what makes her special, or why was Merlin of all people interested in making out with her.  She is as dull as a box of rocks.  And she doesn't do a single freaking thing.  Except for narrating the story and being annoying.

Really, Ryan, honey, I could care less.

The same goes with her two boy toys.  You'd think having freaking Merlin as a boyfriend would be fairly interesting.  It would be like dating Dumbledore, Gandalf, or the quasi Dumbledore ripoff-Magnus Bane.  Who I guess in turn are both Merlin knock offs, but let's not get all technical about it.  The fact is, dating a great wizard should be really cool and said wizard should have a big personality but here....God we got a bland character who drove a motorcycle and method of treating a problem was saying "I'm a wizard." 


Then we have Merlin's brother.  Whose relationship I'm guessing Ardis is trying to imitate of that  of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes.  Only guess what...it doesn't work much like everything else in this book.
The beginning as I said before, is pretty exciting if I could figure out what the heck is going on.   A little more than halfway through the book and I still didn't get an explanation for anything important.  And I know I have stated over and over I hate info dump, but yeah...a little exposition would've been nice.  And there were plenty of moments where a conversation or something could've been taking place.  Or at least there could've been some transition scenes.  Honestly, England felt very much like America in this book.  Just as magic felt normal to these characters who lived in a non-magic world.
On the plus side though this book didn't personally offend me.  But at the same time that might not be a good thing because if at least if it was offensive I would've remembered it.  As it is now, I'll quickly forget this one as an unremarkable bad book that didn't well emote any emotion from me.
Overall Rating: Two out of ten (one star on Booklikes).  While it didn't personally offend and was mostly comprehensible, it bored me to death and contained dull characters.  It was free and because of that I can't complain (much).  But at the same time, maybe my friend did have a point.  Lowering my standards for independent books in wrong.  While it true a lot of the great slush pile on Amazon sucks that's no excuse to not hold these writers up to the standards of trad pub novelists.  If you're selling your product for money than I should be expecting proper grammar, I shouldn't be giving your a book on a plus for comma use.  So yeah.....my earlier positive reaction towards the book in hindsight was dumb.  I should just try to treat all books equal, it's true that a lot of the Kindle slush pile sucks, but giving it the benefit of the doubt because they know for the most part (except in their title) how to use commas isn't really a plus for the actual book.  It's expected.
Source: http://howdyyal.blogspot.com/2013/10/my-boyfriend-merlin-priya-ardis.html