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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

**** Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination by Helen Fielding. Chick lit.

My daughter got this from the library while we were on vacation, and passed it on to me to read before she returned it. She loved it. I wasn't quite as enamored.

I didn't hate it, either. It was a fun read, but didn't have a whole lot of substance to it. I had to roll my eyes at all the Amazon reviews trashing the book because it mentioned Osama Bin Laden. One of these days, I'll have to write down my theory about things like that.

Anyway, Olivia Joules and the Overactive Imagination is like a comedy version of the movie Conspiracy Theory. Olivia is a journalist who sees conspiracies and Big Stories everywhere, and finally stumbles on to one, by sheer accident.

My main complaint about the story is that it was too firmly straddling the fence between being a semi-serious James Bond-type story and being an over-the-top Stephanie Plum-type story. If it had leaned more either way, I'd have been much happier with it. Instead, we're asked to believe, for example, that ****spoiler****the CIA would recruit her on the spot as an agent because of her overactive imagination**** and without the support of the entire book being completely over-the-top, things like that just fall flat.

The romance, too, was too wishy-washy. I'd have been happier with it being focused on either less or more, or even left out completely. As it was, I couldn't believe in it, and it felt out of place.

I did, however, love Olivia's "Rules for Living." (#1: "Don't panic." #2: "No one is thinking about you. They're thinking about themselves, just like you.") In fact, I think they made the book for me. Without them, I'd probably have given the book 3 or 3.5 stars. Not just that the rules were present, but what they were, and how Olivia referred to them at times throughout the story.


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