Sometimes a book and you just don’t click, even when they’re the most talked about and you really, really want to like it, but you just can’t. That’s the way I feel about two recent reads and I think I can put my finger on what I didn’t like about them, though that’s not to say that they won’t speak to others. Yet, for me, I had to stop the CPR… an apt quote for those times when it’s just not working out.
The first was Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli which won the Morris Debut Author award for 2016 and the second was A World Without You by Beth Revis which will be out in just a few short days and is already buzzed about.
Starting with Simon, I could tell from the first chapters that I wasn’t going to be into it primarily, as a testament to the newer YA fiction that’s out there like The Great American Whatever by Tim Federle or Look Past by Eric Devine, because authors are pulling away from a book centering around the character’s sexual identity and instead incorporating it into a larger story. And then once I got to know Simon, I became more disinterested by the banter between his secret friend that seemed contrived while none of the secondary characters shined for me to champion either. Flatline.
As for Revis’ new book, I wanted it to be Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman and when you love a book as much as I love Challenger Deep, it’s hard to compare. I tried to stay objective and keep an open mind but the problem was that I didn’t read the summary before reading the book, so I didn’t already realize that it had been explained that Bo does have a mental illness though he believes he’s at a home for exceptional youth. I started the book thinking I was reading magical realism akin to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs, when in fact, they are delusions in which he believes he has transported a girl at the school to another time period and lost her there. Again, this is not the case: she has committed suicide and Bo cannot accept this fact. But, there is no explicit description. And even when the secondary narrator, Bo’s sister Phoebe is introduced, you would think this would provide clarity. Instead, it’s superfluous and muddies the water further. Flatline again though the struggle between what is real and what is imaginary is a very real peak into mental illness and what Shusterman illustrated so well for me.
I will continue on, as my TBR pile so eloquently demonstrates, but these were not favorites.