Monday, May 5, 2014

YA Review: The Chapel Wars (Lindsey Leavitt)

The Chapel Wars
Title: The Chapel Wars
Series: standalone
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: May 6, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: Teen (grief, kissing, innuendo, possible minor language)
Told: First Person Singular (Holly), Past Tense
Format Read: ARC (from publisher)
Find It On: Goodreads


Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is she running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money--fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save.

*          *          *

Writing: Playful. Holly was a fun voice, especially with her unique numerical outlook on life.

Setting: Ah, Vegas. I've been a few times and love how flashy and over-the-top it all is. Lindsey did a great job with the description and showed us a lot of awesome "historical" and out of the way places. It was also fun seeing both sides of the exciting and eccentric city with Holly singing its praises and Dax moaning its faults.

Story: With the colorful cover, playful title, and feisty summary, I went into this book expecting a Romeo & Juliet romance that revolved around Holly's struggle to save her beloved wedding chapel. But instead, to my disappointment, I found the story revolved around Holly's grief - grief over her grandfather's death, her parents' confusing divorce, her siblings' hostility and distance, and the fact that she had to hide her romance from practically everyone. I expected colorful, playful and feisty, and instead I got depression, desperation and many shades of grey. And the wasn't what I was expecting, and certainly not what I was hoping for, but it was okay, I guess. I just felt that Holly allowed herself to be influenced by everyone else in her life and didn't forgive herself and allow herself to be what she wanted to be. So what if everyone thinks what you want is weird and that it's not healthy for a young person to have it that together? If that's who you are, go with it.

Characters: Holly's inconsistency was my biggest problem with this book. All of her personality traits never felt like they added up, and some even seemed to contradict each other. She berated her best guy friend for considering baby names after dating his girlfriend 15 months, and then after only one date and two kisses with her own boyfriend admitted she'd already "named our first three children." I liked her perseverance and loved her number obsession, but otherwise she was pretty all over the place for me. I guess some might argue that humans are inherently rather inconsistent and it makes her more "realistic" or something, but I don't know. As for Dax, Holly revered him as some kind of god among men in the looks department, but the descriptions made him sound really...unbalanced. His personality was a bit all over the place as well, and even at the end I didn't know quite what to make of him. Holly's guy friends were kind of bad for her, in my opinion, but maybe that was just me. I really liked that she found Camille (or, really, that Camille found her) because she desperately needed a girl friend - I only wish Camille had been given a bigger role. Holly's parents were self-absorbed and their lack of communication with their children made me kind of mad. Brother James was a delinquent but a sweetheart, and Sister Lenore...don't get me started. All in all, quite the dysfunctional cast.

Romantic Relationship: I didn't buy the Holly/Dax romance (also known as a ridiculous case of insta"like"). I didn't see that they had anything in common other than grief and hormones. Take away the kissing, and I just don't see how they'll last.

Conclusion: With its grief-focused story, this book wasn't the fun, over-the-top Vegas fling I'd hoped for. Still, despite its inconsistent main character, it was an okay read and had its fun moments, and what we did get of Vegas was really cool. If you like your Contemporary Romances to be a little heavier on the "Contemporary," then this could be a book for you.


  1. Great review! I felt like both Holly and Dax's and Camille and Sam's relationship were all about kissing. There was literally nothing much else to them. Camille and Sam didn't seem to have anything in common and she often got annoyed with Sam about the stupidest stuff. I do wish Camille played a bigger role too. I think I was expecting more of a Romeo & Juliet thing but I liked that it was more about the grieving process and moving on.

  2. This is why I love reviews (and book blogs!), because it helps me see the book from a different perspective. I think you made a lot of awesome points, and I'm going to reread my ARC again. ;)

  3. I liked this one a lot! I totally get all the points that you made, even though I liked the dark parts and dark humor a bit more than you seem to have. It's so fun to see different ideas and opinions about books. Great review!