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Thursday, July 7, 2016

The History Major: A Novel

I have read some of Michael Phillip Cash's stuff before, and he is overall a genuinely funny writer. En route to Book Expo America in Chicago this year, I needed a short book for the flight there since I knew I was going to be getting a ton of books at the Expo and whatever I was reading I wanted to finish it in one sitting so that I would have less to carry home. At just over 100 pages, this novella was exactly what I needed. This is The History Major.

Amanda wakes up one morning after a night of partying ended with a huge fight with her boyfriend. Only she has a new roommate with much different habits than her own, and she has a different schedule than she has been on so far in the first semester of school. She is scheduled to take history with Professor Totle -- which, ugh. She hates history. Who are these people in her class? Why does that bad boy sitting next to her look familiar? Why is she taking this class that she despises? Where is her boyfriend?

One thing that I appreciate about Cash's work is that he weaves a strong, intense tale, and he often manages to keep the truth under wraps until close to the end of his stories. This one I had suspicions but didn't quite guess until the big reveal, and I found that to be very enjoyable even if I didn't love the premise itself. That's about all I can say without giving away spoilers, so you will just have to trust me on this one.

I would have liked to hear more of the main characters in the book. I never really felt that I got to know Amanda and her cohort well. The character arcs were skimpy at best, and so honestly, I just didn't care about the outcome. I felt I could put this book down and be ok with that, and it made me sad in a big way. I think that Amanda especially, but also her boyfriend Patrick and best friends Danielle and Kaitlyn would have made excellent characters if given a chance to be fully fleshed out. Instead they felt like props and therefore two dimensional.

I'm order for that to happen there would need to be less history. I love Joan of Arc, and I find the. Borgias, especially Lucrezia, to be fascinating. However, the amount of time spent relating these stories instead of those of the book's protagonist and supporting cast was to the story's detriment. I was incredibly interested when Amanda's backstory with her mother came out, and I wanted more of that relationship instead of just surface-level details.

If you want to pick up one of Cash's books, I would recommend Stillwell.

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