The Girl From Mars, by Julie Cohen

>> Wednesday, August 29, 2012

TITLE: The Girl From Mars
AUTHOR: Julie Cohen

PAGES: 416
PUBLISHER: Little Black Dress

SETTING: Contemporary England
TYPE: Chick lit / Romance

“I, Philomena Desdemona Brown, do solemnly swear to forsake all romantic relationships. There. Do I really have to repeat it in Klingon?”

It’s not like the vow, made by Fil and her two nerdy best male friends so they’d always stick together, was a big deal at the time. Frankly, Fil wouldn’t know romance if it hit her in the face anyway. Her one true love is her job as the artist for the famous comic Girl from Mars. Just like the comic’s alien heroine, Fil’s never had or needed a love interest—just her best friends.

Until one of her friends breaks the vow and falls in love, bringing her smack back down to earth. Could it be that romance is in the stars for Fil after all?
Fil Brown has a life she loves, which allows her to indulge her love for comics and sci-fi. She draws her beloved "Girl From Mars" comic, about a female superhero, and she's got three really close male friends who provide her with the love and support of a family.

And then, things start changing. One of her friends falls in love, and this changes the whole dynamic of the foursome's relationship. And Fil can't even find a refuge in work, because that's in flux as well: the powers that be have brought in a new hotshot writer, Dan McKay, to breathe new life into the Girl From Mars life, and the annoying man has some ideas about the character's love life that Fil is resoundingly against.

I really, really liked this. I picked this up because I have enjoyed previous Little Black Dress books by this author, but this is my favourite so far. I loved the comic book stuff, and thought geeky Fil and her even geekier friends were absolutely wonderful. I adored spending time with them. The book's got loads of humour, but at the same time, there's plenty of heart there as well, to the point that I welled up a couple of times. I really identified with Fil's feelings for Jim and Digger, two of her friends. This fierce, protective love, where you see their vulnerabilities and failings and want to hug them and never let anything hurt them. I've felt that, and even though nothing too sad happens here, the emotion felt quite raw and real.

The romance was nice as well, even though it wasn't my favourite element. Since this was because I liked the other elements so much, rather than because there was anything wrong with the romance, I have no problems with this. I especially liked that for a lot of the book, I just had no idea who Fil might end up with. I was surprised to be surprised, to be honest. I've read so much romance that by now, I can usually point out the intended hero as soon as he enters the picture.

Something else I loved was that, more than with any other author, with Cohen's books I always get a bit of a thrill to realise that the story is actually set in my world. No, I don't illustrate comics, or even live in London, but I always get the feeling with her characters that they are like me, that they do the sorts of things I'd do... go to the pub when I'd go to the pub, go to the same shops I go to, that sort of thing. The funny thing is, this doesn't happen so much, even with other British authors. I suppose it might be because according to her bio, Cohen, like me, moved to England as a grown-up. So maybe what British authors (and, I guess, readers) would take for granted, she takes trouble to note, and so do I.



Darlynne,  29 August 2012 at 23:18  

I've read other books by Julie Cohen, too, and I think this one is on my shelf. She is so much fun and writes some of the best contemporary romance around. I'm glad to see you enjoy her books as well.

Rosario 30 August 2012 at 06:28  

I've read some of her Harlequins, but IIRC, the ones I've enjoyed the most have been published by Little Black Dress here in the UK. Like you said, really fun!

Marianne McA,  1 September 2012 at 09:36  

Yes, of the books she wrote for Little Black Dress I especially liked both this and 'Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom'. You're exactly right when you say that it feels like her characters live in the real world: it's odd, when you think about it, that that's such an unusual thing.

I didn't know who Fil would end up with either - I kept changing my mind about who it would be. And ultimately plumped for the wrong person.

Have you read her longer book: 'The Summer of Living Dangerously'?

Rosario 2 September 2012 at 06:50  

Marianne McA: I used to get the same feeling with Dorothy Koomson, before she went a bit too grim for my taste. The Chocolate Run, for instance. Have you read it?

I've got Nina Jones on the TBR, and just picked up The Summer of Living Dangerously from the library yesterday!

Marianne McA,  4 September 2012 at 23:46  

I did read The Chocolate Run - I think after Karen of Karen Knows Best reviewed it - but I don't remember much about it. I must have liked it, because I did read more Koomson afterwards.

I liked 'The Summer of Living Dangerously' more than Cohen's first longer book - I'll be interested to read what you think of it.

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