I confess I was initially put off by the premise, which sails through the Hallmark Channel into Love Boatish waters ...Once we board the Splendido Marveloso in Athens, Ward reveals that she has a way with humor ... I’ve never been on a cruise, so this was a view into a world I will never visit unless you hit me on the head with a two-by-four or give me tickets for free. The author’s eye for forced fun is exquisite. The Very Hairy Chest Contest, the towel-animal lessons, the marzipan piano: All the marvels are splendido ... Beneath the surface, though, there is real darkness ... The trouble with four perspectives is that you long for at least one character who has an interesting mind ... I wish Ward had not employed the tricks of lesser novelists, such as contrived cliffhangers and misdirection in order to engender suspense. Still, there is real poignancy in this novel, as wounded characters struggle to regain childhood loyalties. Ward nails how family expeditions are ruined and saved, over and over again, by fleeting moments of connection and the consensus to survive without killing one another.
As the Splendido Marveloso travels from Greece to Malta to Italy, the Perkins’ desperate attempts to both keep up appearances and tell their truths are interrupted by port-city excursions and mandatory cruise-ship fun. Each character’s dysfunctions run deep, and each plot twist threatens to sink their sanity, resulting in a funny, moving tale of the complications of familial love.
The Jetsetters is a fun black comedy with a lot of extremely dark strokes. Every single Perkins is effed up in their own unique way, and every single one of them cares about the others – in codependent, unhealthy or just plain strange ways ... If you don’t like flawed characters, you won’t like this bunch at all. They are an intense ride and sometimes quite hard to take ... there’s something about each of them that’s interesting enough to keep the reader invested ... The quality of the writing – smooth as an ocean – and the ridiculousness of the travelogues just add to the spirit of things (nude beaches! Ancient ruins! Good food! Art museums!) ... The Jetsetters will be enjoyed by anyone who likes a little acid in their sunny lemonade.