Review: Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk

E-ARC: 256 pages
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Source of my copy: publisher/Edelweiss
Series: standalone
A modern cupid story set in present-day Wisconsin combining the fantastical elements of Greek mythology with the contemporary drama of MTV's Teen Mom.

People don’t understand love. If they did, they’d get why dance prodigy Karma Clark just can’t say goodbye to her boyfriend, Danny. No matter what he says or does or how he hurts her, she can’t stay angry with him . . . and can’t stop loving him. But there’s a reason why Karma is helpless to break things off: she’s been shot with a love arrow.

Aaryn, son of Cupid, was supposed to shoot both Karma and Danny but found out too late that the other arrow in his pack was useless. And with that, Karma’s life changed forever. One pregnancy confirmed. One ballet scholarship lost. And dream after dream tossed to the wind.

A clueless Karma doesn’t know that her toxic relationship is Aaryn’s fault . . . but he’s going to get a chance to make things right. He’s here to convince Danny to man up and be there for Karma. But what if this god from Mount Olympus finds himself falling in love with a beautiful dancer from Wisconsin who can never love him in return?

This fast-paced debut novel explores the internal & external conflicts of a girl who finds herself inexplicably drawn to a boy who seemingly doesn't reciprocate her feelings, touching on the issues of love, sex and responsibility, with a heroine struggling to control her destiny--perfect for fans of Katie McGarry's novels and MTV’s
16 and Pregnant.

Initial Thoughts
I first heard of Arrows when Tika told me about it. She was organizing a blog tour for it and, of course, I had to get in on it because the premise of Arrows piqued my interest. Cupid's son shot a girl with a love arrow and ruined her life and then falls for her himself? I was very intrigued to say the least.

The Plot
Love arrows come in pairs, and Aaryn, Eros and Psyche's son, shot Karma with one of the arrows. He was going to shoot her boyfriend Danny as well as part of his final exam to join the ranks of full-time cupids when he realized that he didn't have the other love arrow. He and his proctor decided to cover up the incident and left Karma in a horrible situation.

Fast forward to about a year later and Karma's life was essentially ruined because of Aaryn's mistake. She got pregnant and had a baby, she lost a prestigious dance scholarship, and was in a very toxic relationship with Danny. But, because she loves Danny she always found excuses for his behavior and lets him walk all over her.

However, the gods on Mount Olympus learned of Aaryn's mistake and wants him to fix it by convincing Danny to marry Karma or he will lose his god status. It didn't take Aaryn long to realize that Karma was special and she was too good for idiot Danny. And then Aaryn also found himself falling for Karma... So, what was he to do...?

Angry for Karma!
I was in a state of anger pretty much the entire time I was reading Arrows. I felt so bad for Karma and was so angry for her. She's raising her daughter Nell pretty much on her own because her deadbeat, dick of a boyfriend Danny couldn't be bothered. She was a dance prodigy, but had to give up her dreams of attending a dance school in New York because she got pregnant and then had to raise her daughter. But she may get a second chance if she wins a prestigious dance scholarship, but Danny wanted to go to college in Louisiana and she was ready to completely give up on her dreams to follow him. Because Karma was helplessly in love with Danny thanks to Aaryn's love arrow, she couldn't see past Danny's bullshit and lies.

I was so angry at Danny and every time he appeared on the page, I was to reach into the novel and kick him in the nuts. I was also angry with Aaryn because it was all of his fault, and then even though he saw right from the start that Danny was a talentless idiot and Karma was too good for him, he still tried to push them together to save himself. Aaryn did get better, especially when he started to question the idea behind what cupids do and how they interfere with the lives of humans, so I didn't stay angry with him the entire book. Karma's situation just pushed all of my buttons, you guys. I've personally known people who were in a similar situation as Karma--maybe not as extreme, but they put their partner's interests and ambitions first over their own dreams because they're in love.

What I Enjoyed
The author did a good job evoking a rollercoaster of emotions in the reader. I was frustrated and angry for Karma. She had everything going for her, and one mistake that was out of her control ruin her life. I pitied her, but at the same time I rooted for her to break the arrow's spell. On the surface, she was a doormat girlfriend thanks to the arrow, but beneath that you see her strength and her determination. She loves her baby girl, and she's determined to keep dancing despite all the setbacks.

I didn't find Aaryn very swoon-worthy because I was angry with him for a lot of the book. But I realize early on that Arrows is not a swoon-y read. There were some swoon-worthy moments in the end, but foremost it dealt with issues of love and loving someone who isn't right for you, responsibility, emotional and verbal abuse, pursuing your dreams, having agency, among others.

Some Issues
I did have some minor issues with Arrows. One was that the overall writing. It didn't flow quite as smoothly and there were some instances when I was taken out of the story because I didn't know how we got from point A to point B. I was reading an ARC, so it might've been cleaned up in the final copy, but I thought I mention it because there were parts of the book where I'd have to reread certain section to try to make sense of what had happened.

There were also some characters on the Mount Olympus side of the story that left me scratching my head. Mainly it was Tex. What was his deal? I didn't quite get it. So, was he working against Eros and he was following his own agenda? I was confused about his whole thing in the end. And the different types of arrows and chips--that could've been fleshed out a little more. We also saw glimpses of a few Greek gods and goddesses, but only glimpses. For me personally, I kind of wish we saw a little more of them, and they had more of a presence in the story.

Arrows was shorter than your average YA book, only about 250 pages. I would've have liked an epilogue in the end. The story ended kind of abruptly, and I would've like a small glimpse maybe a couple of months after the story ended to see how Karma and Aaryn were getting on. And while I could kind of guess the direction Danny's character was headed, I would've liked to see him on the other side of the arrow and experiencing the same torment and helplessness Karma went through.

Final Thoughts
Arrows was a refreshing read, in that it looked at love and falling in love and relationships at a different away. It had the lightheartedness and campy-ness of a Disney Channel movie, but the seriousness of a Lifetime movie. Overall, I really enjoyed it. I was engaged in the story and the characters' (Karma and Aaryn) situation. I am glad I picked it up.

About Melissa Gorzelanczyk​
Melissa Gorzelanczyk is a former magazine editor and columnist who loves strong coffee, live music, and arrow jewelry. She lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin, with her husband and two teenage children, one of whom is named after a Greek goddess.

​Author Links: Website | Twitter | Instagram​ | Facebook

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