2 Jul 2012

Review: Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard
March 13th, 2012 Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 338

It all begins with a stupid question:

Are you a Global Vagabond?

No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path.

Bria's a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan's a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they've got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward.

But Bria comes to realize she can't run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Kirsten Hubbard lends her artistry to this ultimate backpacker novel, weaving her drawings into the text. Her career as a travel writer and her experiences as a real-life vagabond backpacking Central America are deeply seeded in this inspiring story.

When I first heard of Wanderlove I was positively excited. A travel, coming of age story with illustrations – what more could you want! I went into this with very high expectations but unfortunately didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

What I didn’t like:
I didn’t have a strong connection with the characters nor really feel for them; they were kind of just there.

The beginning wasn’t exactly slow but it just didn't feel like it was my thing. I went in to this book expecting to be captivated straight away and I was a little taken aback, surprised almost. Here was a book that I had been expecting a lot from and it just wasn’t what I thought it would be...

I really struggled in the beginning and felt a lack of interest to continue reading; I really had to push myself. It wasn’t until almost half way that things started to eventually look up and I found myself starting to enjoy the story more.

What I did like:
The thing I love most about Wanderlove is its uniqueness. The idea hasn’t been done before; it’s safe to say there is nothing like it on the YA market which I think readers will really appreciate. Who wants the same, repeated, washed up story again and again? I certainly don’t. And I’m sure you don’t either.

The illustrations are GORGEOUS. Simple yet detailed; captivating; charming. They certainly made the reading experience a better one. Every time I came across an illustration my face lit up and my eyes were instantly drawn in; I didn’t want to turn the page.

Wanderlove gave me an adventure without me even having to leave the house. It truly felt like I was trekking throughout Central America right beside Bria and Rowan.

Personally, Wanderlove was an okay read. No, I didn’t fall head-over-heels in love with it like I originally thought I would, but I can certainly see why others did. If you are looking for something out of the ordinary that is fresh and creative Wanderlove might just be what the doctor ordered.



  1. I like how you've broken up what you did and didn't like :) It definitely sounds like it has it's high moments, like the fact that it's so unique, especially since we read SO much, it's nice to come across something different. And the ILLUSTRATIONS. Brodie like pictures :D But it's a shame that it didn't blow you away or did it fully live up to your expectations, that's always a disappointment :(

    I'm happy your perseverance paid off for a more enjoyable second half, though. AWESOME REVIEW, MRS. MERRICK! <3

  2. This is one that I have had for awhile but haven't read yet. I have it on my kindle. I haven't flipped through it - I'm hoping I can see the illustrations as well as you describe them! I LOVE illustrations so much!

    It's also one I've read tons of mixed reviews on. For me, mixed reviews are something that will actually make me want to read a book even more, because I find that I'll want to make an opinion for myself. I was actually thinking about this book last night, thinking that I should read it soon. Maybe I will!

    Thanks for your thoughts!!!

  3. Damn, Becca... GREAT review, and, like Brodie, I love how you've broken it into what you did and didn't like but... *cries* DAMMMMN. I was seriously liking the look of this, and wanting more contemp in my life, but LOTS of people have been saying the same thign--that this didn't do it for them :(

    *sigh* Oh well... can't win em all, right? :(