His First, Her Last by Jonathan Sturak, NF or AF ?, 2013, 266p, Rating=1
Source: ebook copy provided by author for an honest review
Engaged couple Jason and Hazel travel across the world to meet her family in this true story of love and adventure. The moment Jason steps off the plane in the Philippines, an exotic island caught between the East and the West, the past and the present, grabs hold of this naive American and seduces him with its beauty, its places, and its people. Temptation looms as the best friend of Hazel tests their relationship and touches their souls. A deeply personal account of the conflict of culture between American excess and Philippine poverty, His First, Her Last explores the ability of love to transcend two worlds apart. But after an accident spills blood on the streets of a remote village, the lives of this couple flash before their eyes. Will he escape? Will she survive? Will his first trip be her last?
I am utterly insulted! This character, Jason, was self-absorbed, tactless, and downright disrespectful. His observation of the Philippine culture was stereotypical and deficient (< ten day trip would make one an expert, right? –sarcasm--). Even if some of the remarks were true, his attitude in its presentation was offensive to the Philippine people. The straw that broke the camel's back for me was when he was desperate to get out of the Philippine hospital because he felt that he would not get the proper treatment. He was in a rush to contact the U.S. Embassy (sound Hollywood, anyone?) to get him out of the horror of such primitive amenities. Sure the technology in the U.S. would be better but please show some respect to your host country. Don't be so rude and flaunt your hand sanitizer and remarks of disgust.
The character of the main protagonist was not the only flaw in this book. The entire plot of the book was questionable. From the title and blurb, it would have one believe that there would be a story of romance. I didn't feel any romance between Jason and Hazel. No depth in the relationship was conveyed. The descriptions were one dimensional and vain. Even with the "lives of this couple flash before their eyes" accident or "I almost died when I was five" incident, the events were mechanically recounted. If anything, I felt their relationship was twisted (Jason flirted with Hazel's best friend and Hazel was ignorant to Jason's true character). Instead, the storyline was mainly about pointing out a skewed image of third world countries, in this case, the Philippines; as dirty, dumb, and behind the times.
The author is a good writer. This book was well written in applied terms. The grammar was good. The breaks were at the correct places. Smooth technical reading. The flaw was in the content of the story and the flamboyance to the telling. Take away the insults and have more of the caring Jason (like his tenderness with his soon–to-be nephew, Tony). Moreover, I believe that the author thinks he is doing a service by writing this book. Absolutely not! The tips at the end for travelers might be sound but again an example of disrespect.
I have never felt more passionate about not recommending a book than this one. This book is definitely a "don't bother"! Please, don’t bother. I already bothered for all of us.
By the way, this book was based on the author's true account of his trip to the Philippines, so this would be a memoir, hence a non-fiction. Yet, his character name was different. So would that make this fiction? Oh, the flaws are endless.