Review: Final Draft by Riley Redgate

The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys in Final Draft is theFinal Draft Cover peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.

At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive. (via Goodreads)

I received an eARC of Final Draft through Netgalley, courtesy of Amulet Books, in exchange for an honest review. I have previously reviewed Noteworthy by Redgate.

When I started reading Final Draft, I wasn’t sure what to expect from it. After finishing it, I can’t really figure out how I feel about it. Go figure, huh? Final Draft honestly feels unfinished to me, in a way that I’m struggling to explain.

This needs content warnings for teacher death, major depressive episode, negging by a mentor, recreational drug use, underage alcohol use, sneaking out, medication use for depression, graphic masturbation scene, and major grief. I loved that Laila was eventually able to get treatment for her major depression, and that she was hopeful about it. It’s rare to get medication and therapy-positive content in YA lit, and it made a nice change.

Despite a lot happening in Final Draft, I was honestly kind of bored. I thought the relationships throughout the novel were underdeveloped, despite Laila saying how long she’d known them all.

I also didn’t love the way that Laila talked about herself as a sexual being. It set off a lot of red flags for me as an asexual person, but I can’t quite articulate why. If I ever figure it out, it will probably turn into an essay or something.

Overall, I think this is probably a middling rating for me. It had a lot of good things but it didn’t come together well, unfortunately.

Meh Fox

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