Bonus Book Review – More Happy Than Not

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And so here we come to the end of all published Adam Silvera books. He has become one of my fave authors this year and I still remain fucked up over They Both Die in the End. I am also happy that there is one more to come later this year (with Becky Albertalli) because I am not ready to be done with him yet.

The last book I have by him was actually the first book he wrote and I could kind of tell that it was his first. There was something that felt a little bit like he was finding his footing as a writer and there were parts of it that felt a little messy at times for me.

I enjoyed this book for the most part, but also having said that it is my least favourite of the 3 books. The ending felt odd to me. I don’t even know why. Maybe because it wasn’t a happy ending but Aaron had somehow convinced himself that it was and that felt kind of sad because his quest to just be happy had ended like that. I don’t know. I don’t like when books end realistically, it makes me sad.

Anyway, this book threw me through a damn rollercoaster. Mainly the twist in it caught me right off guard. But once it happened it seemed kind of obvious because the signs were there. I just stared at the page for a little bit as the twist that had just occurred truly settled over me. And then a wave of sadness washed over me for Aaron. That only got worse as I moved through the whole part of the book. Because it just kind of served as a reminder that sometimes life is just shitty and sometimes you can’t change those circumstances.

This book is heavy. It has its light moments don’t get me wrong, but it deals with depression, suicide and homophobia so it was never gonna be rainbows and butterflies. It’s brutal at times. There are very few punches held. Especially as it moved backwards into the past and then moved back into the present. In fact the thing that triggered the whole journey to the past was actual punches. It’s a lot.

But it’s good.

The characters felt really well rounded, especially Aaron and Thomas, but they all did. It really helped you get a feel for the community that he was a part of and how it would be a hostile environment that you would want to forget in any way possible. Silvera did a great job of conveying the fear that Aaron felt at being gay in the immediate world that surrounded him. Thomas was a great counterpart to Aaron because on some level he seemed to know on a broad sense what he wanted and he seemed to be relatively okay (or happy, if you will) with himself and although Aaron maybe didn’t believe him as a reader you were never really sure if he was projecting or not. And I guess never really found out.

His relationship with Genevieve felt real on some level. It did kind of read as the kind of relationship you have when you are still trying to desperately cling onto the part of you that the world considers ‘normal’ and when it is thrown into a new context it becomes complicated and messy. I liked that element of the book. I liked how Aaron interacted with both Thomas and Genevieve and how they allowed Aaron to be different versions of himself.

I enjoyed this book. Like I said, the ending felt kind of rushed and a little messy which in the context of the whole story made sense but from a reading perspective was a little unsatisfactory. The story itself is sad and happy, not in equal parts but you can’t have the darkness without a little light. The characters are well rounded and the world that Silvera built felt very much like the one that we live in just with the added ‘bonus’ of being able to manipulate your memory. But as this story shows, that doesn’t necessarily work because the brain is complicated and it wants to remember. And also people are shitty.

It’s real. I mean it’s fiction, but the themes and the emotions felt so very real. And I liked it for that. I am so glad that I discovered Silvera this year because the way he writes is stunning and I love the diversity of his stories and his characters. He’s definitely an author you should read. This isn’t the first book I would recommend of his, but don’t sleep on it either.

3/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 2 – They Both Die At The End

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I decided to read both of the newly acquired Adam Silvera books in my life back to back. Why I do not know, but when I realised that I was going to have to carry two books in my bag for a day the only book that drew my attention was the second of the two books I had and so here we are:

2018 Reading Challenge, Book 2, They Both Die at the End
2018 Reading Challenge, Book 2, They Both Die at the End


First of all, the first part of this book has an Oscar Wilde quote on the aptly coloured black title page. And then it was also called Death- Cast. I mean, if the title didn’t give it all away that this is not going to have a happy ending then those two things definitely did.

The thing about moving through this book with two characters who find out within the opening pages that they are going to die on that day but they just don’t know when is that you as a reader also know that at some point these two characters are going to die and you also don’t know when and it just adds an different element to the whole reading experience.

I both loved and hated that.

As such this book got me so in my feelings it was unreal. I still haven’t really come to terms with the way I feel about it. I can’t quite process it still because every time I think about something new comes to light.

This books feels a little bit like one giant self fulfilling prophecy. Every time I think about all the small actions that ultimately led to Mateo and Rufus’ death I wonder if maybe something different could have happened and then the ending would have been happier. The answer is always no. There is no other way for this to go. But what I did wish was that it went the way I was convinced it was gonna go because I was prepared for that one and then what actually happened was so much worse.

This is told from two main perspectives and then there were some other secondary characters, who I’m gonna be honest I kind of wonder why the hell they were important and then as all the puzzle pieces fell into place it became obvious why you were reading about these people’s lives. What I liked was that you really got a sense of each character was individually, especially when it came to Rufus and Mateo, if for whatever I just wasn’t paying attention to the chapter title I could still tell whose perspective it was from by the tone of voice. As it was told directly from their perspectives it meant that once they were gone, they were gone.

Which was fucking brutal. When Mateo died and that was just it I almost didn’t know what to do with myself. I had to just keep going and feel Rufus’ pain as he came to terms with the fact that Mateo died. Mateo’s final line hit me deep in my core. The same applies to the end of the book. It just ended. And it took a beat for me to realise how he died but then the whole chapter prior to it clicked into place and part of me broke again. Because there was a part of me who was just like ‘you’ve been so careful all day’ and that was kind of when the notion of this whole book is something to do with fate and actions and self fulfilling prophecies and then I just kind of spiralled into my feelings and everything hurt.

Everything still does hurt.

I loved these characters. I fell in love with them almost instantly. I related to Mateo so much and my heart broke a little when I was like ‘oh my god he’s gonna be alone on his last day’ and then it broke even further when it dawned on me that in some indirect way because he knew that day was going to be his last day that he caused it to be his last day and it all just hurt.

Have I said that yet. That this book hurt.

Because it did.

Like I mentioned briefly earlier, I thought I knew how this book was gonna end. It felt like it was going to be bloody, but I was prepared for that. I knew they both had to die and I figured that they would die that way, but then it didn’t happen like that and as such I was very unprepared and then I had to just live my work day life trying to figure out what was going to happen to them. I haven’t been so stressed out by a book in a long time.

The narrative itself felt perfectly paced. Nothing ever felt too rushed but there was also a sense of urgency with everything because there was only this one day. It takes you on a long emotional rollercoaster and it’s exhausting to be honest. But also incredibly satisfying. And painful. And heartbreaking.

Real talk, I don’t quite know why I was so surprised that this book was so fucking painful. The title was a dead give away, but I guess I also kind of know myself and I am not prone to getting emotional when it comes to books. Or anything really, unless it’s dogs doing something cute, so I kind of didn’t really think that much about it. And I was so wrong. It got me so up in my feelings, I didn’t really know what to do with myself. I finished it about a week ago at the time I am writing this and I am still not really all that okay with it. I haven’t quite come to terms with my thoughts about it, as is probably evidence by this nearly 1,000 words of almost near nonsense

What I can say is that I would recommend this book in a heartbeat. It is so beautifully written and nuanced. It is like one giant puzzle that does all come together at the end and paints a heartbreaking picture as they all fall into place. It’s so good. The characters are so well written and everything about it is just great.

5/5 stars

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2018 Reading Challenge, Book 1 – History is All You Left Me

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I never stop with the book reading/reviewing thing. And yes, I am already coming at you with my first book of the year.

It took me just about 5 days to read, but on the 5th day I only spent about 5 minutes reading it because I only had 10 pages left and wasn’t with it enough to just finish it at home like I probably should have done…it meant I had to carry two books with me on that Friday, but ho hey.

The first book in question is this one:

2018 Reading Challenge, Book 1, History is All You Left Me
2018 Reading Challenge, Book 1, History is All You Left Me

I’m gonna be honest, I just saw this book crop up a lot on both Twitter and Instagram and well, it doesn’t take much for me to be interested by the prospect of new books, and so as 2017 drew to a close I went on a bit of a book buying binge and this was included within it.

I can’t lie, it took me a while to get into this book. Something about the way it is told really threw me, most likely because I just wasn’t expecting I don’t think. It took me about 50 pages before I really started to mesh with it and after that I just blazed through it.

While I’m talking about the way it’s written, and although it did take me a little bit to get used to it, I found the way that it was written really clever. The two narratives, that eventually merge together in some way at some point was really well done and it really took you on the journey with Griffin as he comes to terms with Theo’s death and the state that it has left his life and the life of those who also knew Theo. Seeing the way that things were in direct juxtaposition with the way that things are was heartbreaking in a lot of ways.

The thing that I really loved, and it was kind of momentary, was how in the present Griffin said that he was done talking to Theo and then the narrative instantly changed. It kind of made me really appreciate that the whole of the present was basically just Griffin trying to come to terms with his new reality. I mean you do kind of know that when it switches between history and present but that total switch off just really drives that home.

I found Griffin himself quite an interesting character to follow as you as a reader move with him as he tries to process his grief and where he stands without Theo. The way he interacts with Jackson felt real. The idea that you try to latch onto the one person that you feel will understand exactly what you’re going through felt pretty accurate. Was it kind of obvious that they were gonna end up having sex? Yeah kind of, but this book did a good job of turning things on it’s head in some ways. Because while I saw it coming I didn’t see the reason for it happening coming. I didn’t see the sequence of events that led up to the incident that killed Theo coming, mainly because I didn’t see Wade coming. I mean he was always there and I found the way he interacted with one of his former closest friends post Theo’s death a bit odd but it got all the more heartbreaking the further you moved through the book.

Yeah, that whole thing really took me by surprise. In a really great way. This book was full of little surprises and unanswered questions that were never going to be answered because they just weren’t Griffin’s story to tell.

The ending, we all know I love to talk about an ending, this one I liked. It seemed to come out of nowhere but that was just because I was so into it that I didn’t want it to end. The ending felt conclusive and it also, funnily enough, felt in keeping with the rest of the novel. It ended on a question that all boils down to perspective. This whole story was from Griffin’s perspective. It was how he viewed all the events that had happened over the past couple of years. There were flashes of how other people saw things but only in how they related to Griffin. And the ending just seemed to remind you as a reader that there are several different versions of the history that has just been told. I just liked that it remained so very complicated and even though I didn’t want it to end, it could only really have ended the way that it did and it ended on a hopeful note in some ways.

It reflected that there is some kind of light at the end of the tunnel in amongst the grief if you just let yourself at least try. And that’s just another way that this book felt so real.

I loved this book. It was a great first book of the year and I am so glad that I got some Adam Silvera in my life. I’m sad because that is no longer the case as I have finished both of his books now, but more on the second one later.

I recommend completely.

4/5 stars

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