Paradise Squandered is the story of Andrew Banks, a recent graduate of Puget Sound Prep and quite possibly the most directionless member of his graduating class. Andrew returns home from a long-promised graduation trip to Hawaii and re-enters a bland, suburban landscape of privilege and indifference, feeling alone and empty.
Talented but uninspired, Andrew knows he wants to pursue his art, but he has no idea how. He resigns himself to going through the motions of his own life, until he overhears the disturbing truth of his father’s death. He instantly decides he has to leave his childhood home forever, and a darkly hilarious odyssey ensues.
There comes a point in most readers lives when they hope that the much touted topic of ‘coming of age’ is finally going to be presented to them in a new and interesting way; unfortunately this novel is not the one you are looking for.
Whether it was the characters or the locations, this book lacked the traction that would have made it an interesting read. Whole new sets of characters were introduced suddenly and the fact that the main protagonist didn’t even care to get to know them and the lack of back story made this book one that I wasn’t in a hurry to pick up in a spare moment. There are only so many internal reflections one book can contain before it becomes a chore to read, and this novel hit its quota very early on it its pages. There is so little back story to any of the characters, the main lead included, that it is very hard to connect with them or feel any compassion for their plight. This book lacks substance and, at times, doesn’t even read like a ‘real’ story but rather a projection of something else. As to the ‘hilarious odyssey’ mentioned in the synopsis, I have a feeling this may have been overlooked in the actual writing.
Unfortunately, I doubt very much I would read another novel by this Author, unless he changes his writing style and subject matter dramatically. We have all been through the teenage years and all is accompanying angst, but do we want to read about it time and again in a manner that portrays it as the most depressing times of our lives; because of this I am unable to recommend this read to anyone.