Katie Cotugno’s 99 Days is about 83 days too long.
Molly Barlow is facing one long, hot summer—99 days—with the boy whose heart she broke and the boy she broke it for . . . his brother. For 99 chapters (“days”), Molly Barlow suffers through the trivial reactions (and mostly overreactions) of the stereotypical residents of a small town with far too much time on their hands.
While a captivating setting in the idyllic, Hollywood-perfect resort town of Star Lake makes for an enjoyable travelogue, the consistent poor choices of all the members of a love triangle makes for a meandering journey.
Molly Barlow insists, over and over again, on making the same bad decisions, and then tries to elicit sympathy for having to suffer the consequences. Yes, the double standard inherent in the premise (that a woman who cheats is a terrible person but a man who does the same thing has done nothing wrong) is a real thing, and a great story could be written on it (and many have). This isn’t that story.
Yes, Molly Barlow cheated on her boyfriend. Sort of. But 99 Days just expects the reader to believe, the way Molly does, that this is the worst thing that has ever happened in the history of history. And, sorry Molly, it’s just not the worst thing that has ever happened. Why the fine upstanding citizens of Star Lake treat this as a capital crime resulting, literally, in banishment, is a little hard to swallow. What it comes across as, day after day as Molly continues to make the same bad choices, is more whining than anything else. And whining is difficult to read for more than a few pages.
There’s no escape from the appeal of Katie Cotugno’s direct, concise writing, with vivid dialogue and all those beautiful people from central casting. Just as there’s no escape from the realization that nothing actually happens on the vast majority of those 99 days.
Molly Barlow ends the summer pretty much exactly where the reader knew she was going to end the summer, as does every other character. Too many days stagger by with repetitive events or events that really don’t go anywhere, there for filler rather than to carry the plot forward for reasons having more to do with the gimmick of 99 days of summer than anything else.
Katie Cotugno showed her command of New Adult Contemporary Romance in her brilliant debut How to Love with 99 Days the gimmick and the concept prove to be a little too unwieldy, leaving behind little more than a wonderful synopsis and a resort town that deserved a better story.