Life by Committee by Corey Ann Hardy

Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat.

Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.

Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe.

Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.

But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?

Description taken from Goodreads. 

The blurb doesn’t tell you something about Tabitha. Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot, but that’s because Tabitha is a special kind of annoying character. 

Allow me to explain.

All the characters in this book are incredibly messed up. Tabitha is just the beginning and the end, because it’s narrated by her and because of that fact, this book was hard to fully enjoy. Let’s walk through this step by step.

Plot and premise. I loved the premise for this book. It kind of reminds of NERVE by Jeanne Ryan. I didn’t love the whole adultery part of it, but I decided to try this book anyway. Well, the cheating is a HUGE part of the how this book starts. It’s what leads Tabitha to Life by Committee in the first place. Let me get one thing straight–if you’re especially opposed to the idea of adultery, then you shouldn’t read this book. You should read NERVE. It’s got a lot more action/thriller themes. But if you could live with reading about cheating, you should still approach this book with caution.

Tabitha doesn’t handle it well. The way Corey Ann Hardy portrays it is that Tabitha “knows” it’s wrong, but she still goes after Joe with everything she has–making a weak effort a few times to step away.

One thing I forgave her for–she grew. Sure, it takes a lot of annoyance and many stupid decisions, but by the end of the book she grows immensely as a character. Is it where I want her to be? No. Has she grown nearly enough? No. But she’s grown and learned. At the very minimum, I appreciated the way Hardy showed how LBC has shaped Tabitha’s life and how she reacts as she falls deeper and deeper into it’s trap.

Writing and pacing.

"You're in my room," I say, and giggle like it's the world's greatest secret.
"I'm definitely in your room," he says with a grin. "I like your room."
"I like you in my room," I say. My mouth feels funny. My limbs feel funny. I can't stop swallowing. And we are having the world's stupidest conversation.
"I like that you like me in your room," Joe says.

– Life by Committee, page 31

This is possibly one of the shallowest, stupidest conversations I’ve seen in a long time. No, most of the rest of the dialogue is like this, but there are little snippets like this here and there that just exist to aggravate the reader. In this passage, you can see the extent of Joe and Tabitha’s relationship. That relationship was a huge downer for this book and it instilled a deep dislike for both Tabitha and Joe in me.

As for the writing in general, there are no huge mistakes here. I wish there had been more focus on dialogue so that the relationships of this story would be made stronger. The pacing here was pretty steady, which was great because it worked in tandem with the slow and fast scenes. When you get to how LBC works and descriptions of the world around Tabitha, I thought Hardy did a pretty good job. I loved the layout of LBC. It advanced as the story advanced, which was a good plot move as the story unfolded.

Relationships and supporting characters. 

I think I’ve made it apparent how much Tabitha rained on this book, but here’s where it really comes in just in case you’re not clear yet.

None of the characters here appealed to me without growth. I had hoped that Hardy would support her characters more, but especially in the beginning, the characters all seem to be messed-up, weird, backstabbing and/or just plain annoying.

Cate and Paul: Tabitha’s parents. They were teenagers when they had her and try to be involved in her social life, defending her.

Paul and I are even bigger assholes, because Cate's pregnant and it shows. She touches her stomach every few seconds and even puts a hand to her lower back from time to time, as if she is eight months and not five.

This is a scene where Paul and Tabitha are facing off against Jemma and Allison. Cate has called out for help against the long line at their stop, Tea Cozy, twice and neither person has gotten up to help a pregnant woman and their mom/wife, because they’re busy trying not to look weak in front of two people who betrayed Tabitha. How pathetic is that? There are more important things in life than two people who shouldn’t even matter to either of them anymore.

Jemma and Allison: Tabitha’s old best friends who ditched her when she became pretty, saying that she had changed.

"Right" is all she says. It seems to be a commentary on every thing she has disdain for at this moment: my cleavage, Paul's childish meanness, my flirtation with Joe, the rules of being a normal human being.

This part is hard because I can sympathize with both Jemma and Tabitha. Jemma has a point. Through her eyes, I can see how Tabitha isn’t someone I would want to hang around, but when something like that happens, that’s where I can understand Tabitha’s point of view. Jemma had two options: she could either walk away from their friendship or just naturally let things fall apart. The problem  lies in that Jemma didn’t choose one or the other. She criticizes Tabitha without any real concern as a friend. If she wants to walk away, she needs to walk away fully.

But more importantly, in this passage I saw so much of Tabitha’s personality that I disliked.

Sasha: Writes an inappropriate poem about her relationship with Joe that isn’t shown in the story, but rockets Sasha into popularity for no reason I can fathom.

Elise: A lesbian who is Tabitha’s best friend.

Overall. 

All in all, I wished that I could’ve enjoyed this book more, but Tabitha’s personality in the beginning and the personalities of the people around her was what brought this whole story down. 1 star.

pg count for the hardback: 304

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