Are you tired of the usual tropes and cliches of YA Fantasy? Or do you just like YA Fantasy in general? Then this is the book for you!
I read this for @NorthernPlunder ‘s Travelling Book Project as a part of her book club
Warning: I have A LOT of feelings about this book so be prepared
TW: Throughout the book there are characters dealing with mental illness such as anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, eating disorders and depression. If you are particularly sensitive to this then maybe give this book a miss.
So every YA Fantasy story has to have it’s hero, right? You follow them as they are braver and smarter than everybody else, doing things ‘normal’ people could only dream of. And of course, fall madly in love with a person they only just briefly met. Don’t try to deny it insta-love is everywhere in YA literature. Some people love it but personally I hate it. (Like really really hate it). Well this book doesn’t follow the hero that is gonna save the day and fall instantly in love with a beautiful stranger. This mainly follows a boy called Mikey and his friends. They aren’t indie kids. A name given to those chosen ones who will go out of their way to bump into trouble and save the day. They just want to go to prom and graduate and have a good summer. But of course the indie kids have to go and get themselves in trouble which might just blow up the school. The indie kids actions have consequences that effect the ‘normal’ people. So while out main characters are trying to just get through their everyday life of finishing high school they also have to cope with the indie kids and their issues.
From now on I things will get a little bit more spoilery as I talk about how I felt about the book as whole. And I felt a lot about this book.
If you couldn’t tell from my 5 Star rating I absolutely adored this book. Not only is it funny and and an interesting concept, but it doesn’t sugar coat life as a 17/18 year old. Also the characters aren’t all straight and white (yay for diversity in YA). This book gives a big middle finger over used tropes (that I will go into more detail later) and openly discusses mental health. It allowed room for character development, humour and family orientated story line (which is often ignored in YA). The story literally just follows them through trying to finish high school. Which I’ve been there done that and I could relate which was very refreshing. Usually with YA Fantasy I can’t always relate to falling in love with tall, dark, handsome, undead strangers but trying my best to finish school is something I can certainly relate to.
The thing I loved the most is the way that Mikeys ‘normal’ non indie kid life isn’t that normal. Because nobodies life is normal. We all have to understand and learn to deal with our problems even if our problems aren’t a vampires or zombies. Mikey and his sister, Mel, both struggle and cope with their mental illness. They are brave enough to ask for help and talk about it openly with people they trust. This meant so much to me because I have never read a YA Book that tackles mental health so openly and honestly. It isn’t sugar coated either. It’s raw and the emotions feel real. And jumping to the end here what I loved was that even though Jared could ‘cure’ them and they could be free from mental illness, they turn him down. I’m tired of reading books where the mental health or physical illness of a character is ‘cured’ by love or other magical means. This doesn’t happen in real life and people live fantastic lives regardless of their health. It was important for me to read a book where characters weren’t just suddenly cured and they accepted and were happy with their own journey of recovery. Honestly, that was a game changer for me and if they had just magically been cured this book would have lost a star or two!
Another thing that I loved about this book is that Mikey also questioned his sexuality, fooled around with his best friend that was a male, and thought nothing of it because if he was gay or not it wouldn’t change anything. It was open about his friend Jared’s sexuality and you got to see some things he struggles with regarding that. And not everybody out of the group was a virgin. One of the tropes I literally can’t stand is that every teenage girl (sometimes older) is a virgin and they have never been kissed or fooled around. Which yes does happen, not denying that and there’s also nothing wrong with that. What is wrong with it is it’s done to make every girl seem pure and better than other characters. Having sex or not having sex does not make anybody a better or worse person. But this book literally has Mikey talking openly about his previous relationship which was sexual, contracting an std, masturbating and being aroused. I remember reading it like thank God somebody can actually write about sex in a book directed towards young people without shaming it or making it out to be a big deal.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book. I will be recommending it to everybody and anybody I can. I think it also may have taken over my 2017 Fave Book of the year from The Night Circus by Erin Morgernstern which I was not expecting. I can’t wait to pick up more books from Patrick Ness also!
TLDR; Fantastic book about your average, everyday, none-hero and how he and his friends get through the last year of high school while impending doom is just round the corner. Wonderfully unique story with diverse characters. Read it. Just read it. Now thanks xoxox