2 star, YA

ARC Review: A Disaster in Three Acts by Kelsey Rodkey

Fans of Elise Bryant and Rachel Lynn Solomon will swoon for Last Chance Books author Kelsey Rodkey’s next romance, packed with snark, banter, and inconvenient crushes.

Saine Sinclair knows a little something about what makes a story worth telling.

Your childhood best friend refuses to kiss you during a pre-adolescent game of spin the bottle? Terrible, zero stars, would not replay that scene again. The same ex-friend becomes your new best friend’s ex? Strangely compelling, unexpected twist, worth a hate-watch. That same guy–why is he always around?–turns out to be your last shot at getting into the documentary filmmaking program of your dreams?

Saine hates to admit it, but she’d watch that movie.

There’s something about Holden that makes her feel like she’s the one in front of the camera–like he can see every uncomfortable truth she’s buried below the surface. Saine knows how her story’s supposed to go. So why does every moment with Holden seem intent on changing the ending?

**A Disaster in Three Acts comes out July 5, 2022**

Thank you Edelweiss and the publisher for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Aptly named, the storyline followed its title as it really was a disaster in three acts at times. I wonder if Kelsey Rodkey is an author that works for me because this is her second book and the second time I struggled to love it. I’ll try to list out the reasons why A Disaster in Three Acts didn’t work for me personally.

The protagonist is always key when it comes to a book. Maybe it isn’t as much for others, but I strongly believe even a great story can be awful if you really don’t like the narrator/protagonist you’re stuck with. Saine, pronounced “sane” as in the second syllable of “in-sane” – which the book clarifies and not just what I’m telling you, is a mess. Honestly. I love character arcs where they face growth through the mistakes they make but she’s just not someone to be sympathetic for.

She’s so selfish. I hated seeing how she put her documentary “story” and how she wanted to craft the excitement for her tale by twisting or manipulating events that may not be quite be the truth. She was right in the sense that this strays from documentary to realistic TV realm. And we all know how “truthful” reality TV is, don’t we?

Her documentary subject is Holden, her childhood best friend and former crush. I love that romance trope. Trust me, I really wanted to enjoy it. But when she practically self sabotages growing feelings and places her documentary film over the very real guy she’s filming, I’m no longer Team Saine. Holden deserves better and it sucked to see how much she went behind his back and even her new best friend who formerly dated Holden.

The pacing wasn’t great either. The main premise for the book and the documentary she’s filming was about a competition Holden had entered to win a grand prize. I thought the competition would definitely last longer and be a larger focal point but that was sadly not the case. It ended maybe not even halfway through the book so we’re left with the ability to go off script in Saine’s creative process. Hence the lovely plot ensuing surrounding her less than honorable filming tactics.

If I didn’t enjoy Saine as a character or the potential romance with Holden, there’s really not much more room to love anything else. Her group of friends are somewhat featured as Corinne, her new best friend, definitely adds to this weird love trope. Is it a girl’s code to never date your best friend’s ex? Does it count if you were technically friends with them first and had a HUGE crush once upon a time? Either way, that was a little entertaining but hardly sustainable for a full length book. They had their friendship problems and I’m glad the book took time to discuss it without only pitting one girl against the other.

The only thing that was really interesting and unique about the story was the mini plot dive into grief and how it’s handled (or not handled). Saine’s grandmother passed away prior to the start of the book but her impact on Saine’s creativity, love of documentaries and art are very much present. I liked that it was subtly explored as I’m sure people grieve differently and communicating such grief, especially between the remaining family members, is so important.

But, I’m sure that’s not what everyone came to this book for, so please take what you will from this review. It may just be me, but honestly, I’m not sure Saine’s a very likable protagonist in general. Flawed, yes. The intriguing morally gray? No. So perhaps you’ll like it, but perhaps you also may not.

Overall Recommendation:

A Disaster in Three Acts at least lived up to its name because Saine as a protagonist was truly disastrous. The plot wasn’t compelling with the documentary she was filming and her whole relationship with Holden was more selfish than romantic. There’s not a whole lot left to love but perhaps a more sympathetic reader will find more joy in its pages. At least for me, this was a no.


3 thoughts on “ARC Review: A Disaster in Three Acts by Kelsey Rodkey”

  1. Sorry this one didn’t work out Andge 😔 Yeah I think the protagonist, even if they’re flawed should still have that something for the reader to sympathize with. The premise also sounds like it’d make for such a great romcom, but I can see how execution didn’t work out for either. Enjoyed reading your honest thoughts though!

    Liked by 1 person

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