Itís refreshing to read about a main character in a chick-lit book who does not work in the fashion or publishing industry. Unfortunately, thatís the only thing refreshing about Eugenie Seifer Olsonís debut book, Babe in Toyland. The story of Toby Morris, a twenty-five-year-old working at a toy company, Babe in Toyland begins with Toby being bored by her job and her lack of a boyfriend. Everything changes when she switches on the television to watch her friend report the news and sees J.P. Cody, the gorgeous weatherman. She develops a huge crush on him and begins writing him (bad) love poems.
Mixed in with Tobyís slightly unsettling obsession with the weatherman, the plot includes a host of other characters - including her platonic roommate Michael, her no-nonsense best friend Kerrin, her bizarre work companions, and the children she meets when she begins volunteering at the hospital ó and their various stories. This is where one of the main problems lies. Babe in Toyland has no idea what itís supposed to be about. Is it about Toby stalking the weatherman? Her relationship with Michael? Toby finding meaning by volunteering at a hospital? The toy industry? With no clear plot line or goals, Babe in Toyland becomes a mishmash of genres and storylines that never make a whole lot of sense or become very interesting.
The background setting of the toy industry, which could have added a lot to the book, is handled poorly and never really becomes a factor. The handling of the central romance is also botched since there is absolutely no set-up or romantic chemistry between the two characters until they, almost as an afterthought, get together at the end.
Some chick-lit books can still be decent even if the plot goes a bit awry, but they need an excellent main character to pull it off. Babe in Toyland, unfortunately, does not have this. Toby is lackluster and has a streak of childishness in her that makes the reader often wonder if sheís reading about a twelve-year-old rather than a grown woman. Besides sending bad poetry to a man sheís never met, Toby also sends unwanted magazine subscriptions to a woman she hates, sleeps with a stuffed animal, and does a host of other infantile things that are not at all endearing.
With its confusing and meandering plot, uninteresting main character and lack of romance, Babe in Toyland is everything a good chick-lit novel should not be. This is a definite must-miss.