Review: While You're Away Part I by by Jessa Holbrook (Michelle's first serial novel!)

Format: e-ARC
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: October 15, 2012
Source of my copy: publisher via Netgalley
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Once a cheater, always a cheater?
From the moment Will and Sarah first set eyes upon each other, they know that what they have is special.
There's just one little problem . . . each of them already has a significant other.
After flirting with danger, it becomes clear their passion is too strong to be denied. But even if they make their relationship official, there are plenty of challenges in store. Will leaves for college at the end of the summer, while Sarah faces her senior year of high school in their small suburban town. Long-distance relationships always come with their fair share of troubles—mismatched schedules, jealousy, and temptation are only the beginning.
Can cheaters ever change?
While You're Away is a steamy story about a love triangle, a long-distance relationship, and learning the true meaning of commitment.

I admit to being wary of While You're Away when it showed up in my email because it's a serial novel. I'm a very impatient person and I don't like waiting for books so I can't imagine enjoy a book where I'm given just a piece of it (with probably killer cliffhanger after each one)over a six-week period. But as the old saying goes, "you can't knock it til you try it." 

Right in the description of While You're Away are the words "cheater" and "love triangle" and that's a big Uh-oh! already. I'm not a fan of either in my reads, but I gave it a chance since I was more interested in how the whole "serial novel" concept than anything else.

Well... I was able to read While You're Away was pretty good. Sarah was likable. She's an introverted musician who was in band with her boyfriend Dave. With his all-American good looks, Dave was a flirt. After their gigs, he likes to go around to bask in the compliments and admiration of their audience (usually girls) while Sarah disappeared in the background. Besides his penchant of flirting, Dave seemed like a good guy.

One night, while Dave was doing his usual mingling after a performance, Sarah bumped into Will. They'd gone to the same school since kindergarten but haven't spoken to each other. Will was the school's bad boy and has a near-mythical reputation of hooking up a lot of girls, but he currently has a girlfriend. But once Sarah and Will started talking, the spark between them was undeniable. Sarah couldn't stay away and it seemed like Will was equally as affected.

Like I said, While You're Away was good. I liked it--if I was inclined to give stars, I'd give it 3/5. However, I've seen these characters before and there's nothing that really stood out about them to me. The story didn't capture me enough and I'm invested in the characters enough that I'm dying to read more. I think for a serial novel to work for me (who has a towering to-be-read pile already) I really have to be really captured and gripped by the first "episode." I wasn't with this one, but if the second part comes my way and I have a pocket of time to read, I'll probably pick it up since the parts are very short (I read While You're Away in one sitting).


  1. Good review. Out of curiosity, how did you sign up for this serial novel, and how are the future installments going to be delivered to you? We're curious about the whole enterprise, and wonder if it's going to take off or not.

    Regardless of the specifics for this book, we agree that in general, for anything like this to succeed, the stories are likely going to need a special something, rather than being the same kind of thing we see in traditional books.

  2. I was emailed by a publicist from Penguin with part I and I decided to give it a go. Lol I'm probably not getting part 2 since my review isn't really that enthusiastic. They're releasing each part once a week, every Tuesdays over a 6-week period (parts 1 & 2 are already out). Part 3 is coming out this coming Tues.

    But the available parts and future installments are available for purchase on Amazon and other online retailers. You have to buy each part individually, one at a time, as they get released from what I can see.

  3. Ah okay, good to know! Somehow we think serial fiction isn't going to truly take off until they figure out an automated system; if it's on the reader to download each new part, people are just going to forget or lose interest.


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