Eleanor and Park can be summed up in one word: unexpected. I didn't expect it to be set in the eighties. I didn't expect Eleanor to be overweight, or...moreEleanor and Park can be summed up in one word: unexpected. I didn't expect it to be set in the eighties. I didn't expect Eleanor to be overweight, or for Park to be Korean. And I didn't expect to fall in love with this book as hopelessly as Eleanor and Park fell in love with each other.
I loved the dual perspective from the two main characters. It allowed me to see how uniquely they thought, and at the same time showed me that the two of them often thought so alike (for instance, they both describe each other at one point as looking like art).
The ending was described by Rainbow Rowell as "like a truck hitting a brick wall," and rightly so. I had to reread the last paragraph before I understood what had happened, but once I did, I wanted to cry for happiness and sadness all at once. The ending is so hopeful, and while it stands perfectly on its own, I would inhale a sequel if it were to happen.
Some favorite parts: -Park's reaction after the gym scene (you know if you've read) -Park's evolution into punk -Eleanor finally giving herself permission to love -School at midnight -How subtly they fall for each other. They don't realize it until it's too late.
There was so much perfect to this novel, that it feels almost impossible to write a coherent review. I guess I'll go by sections:
Cath: I had the best...moreThere was so much perfect to this novel, that it feels almost impossible to write a coherent review. I guess I'll go by sections:
Cath: I had the best love hate relationship with this girl. Love, because she was funny and a geek and very much like me, with her insecurities as well as her good qualities. However, I thought at times she went too far. I despised going to the dining hall my freshman year, but Cath borders on literally starving herself to avoid the situation. She also goes in circles with her reasoning sometimes; however, these problems don't decline from the character. In fact, it made her more real to me.
College: Dear. God. Rainbow Rowell hit college on its head and drove it into the ground! The opening chapter made me get anxious and stressed out and literally have a flashback to how I felt on move-in day (hint: It wasn't fun. Seriously, I love being in college, but you couldn't pay me to relive my orientation or my move-in week). That's what first solidified my sympathy to Cath, because she felt exactly as I did.
There were a bunch of little things that someone who hasn't been in college gets, like when Levi introduces the concept of "freshman time." I constantly think back on certain sections of time from my freshman year, and the amount of memories I have from one month of that year are the equivalent of six months at any other time.
Fangirling: The very heart of this book is the fact that Cath is a die-hard fangirl, writing fanfiction for the Simon Snow saga. When I read the piece on midnight premieres and the fear of getting the last story, I started bawling like a child, because I remembered feeling that way with Harry Potter. What's more is that, though she may not bring it up with strangers, Cath is absolutely unashamed in her love for her stories, something I loved and identified with. College is terrifying on its own, not to mention the biggest period of change you'll experience in your life (or at least, that I've experienced so far), and Cath was meant to evolve over the year, but she also grew and strengthened herself by holding onto what she knew was such a large part of her, even when the whole world seemed to oppose it.
Other parts of the book I loved: the way the story ends with Cath and her mother's relationship. The fact that nobody in this story is perfect. The way Cath takes care of Nick. And Levi. LeviLeviLevi. Dear God, I want to have his pseudo-fictional babies.
This is gonna have certain spoileres. You've been warned.
So. Willem de Ruiter. Dear God, I did not expect what I got from him...moreOh man. Ohmanohmanohman.
This is gonna have certain spoileres. You've been warned.
So. Willem de Ruiter. Dear God, I did not expect what I got from him. He was a lot sadder, a lot less mature than I expected. Which, of course, made his journey that much sweeter. This poor boy is so lost when he comes across Lulu, aka Allyson, that he was never going to recognize their time together as anything but what it was: different. It was different from any other girl he's been with, and for the very reason that, once Lulu is out of his life, he realizes that the life he's been living up until now is completely unfulfilling. Rather, it brings it into clarity so sharp that he can't go back.
Forman decided to be an incredibly diabolical author and have Willem end up much closer to finding Lulu than I expected we'd see. And by close, I mean at certain times, he was within a matter of HUNDREDS OF FEET FROM HER!!! Cancun ring a freaking bell? He also totally drops the ball when he has a chance to contact the only other person who's aware of what happened and why it would be a big deal for him to be finding her, but what does he do? GIVE UP. And, you know, address the naked lady in front of him in the way only a pessimistic lonely playboy can. *rolls eyes*
It was also very frustrating in that we do not see Allyson until we can see that the ending is VERY NIGH. Seriously, I was scared that it would end on the same cliffhanger as before, it was that close.
But I so loved seeing his transformation. We get to hear more about his family, and see how he resolves that part of his life. He begins to recognize that Lulu is not the answer to finding himself. She was the flashlight in the dark, but when the batteries die, you can still feel around and look for the door on your own. And he did, and in his own time. I also LOVED his acting escapade. Max was perfect, and, as an oft-confused lover of Shakespeare, I really enjoyed seeing how he could see the life in a play that may not read as richly to others, myself included.
The only thing I will say is that we get our resolution, but just that. There's no "and then what happened?" answered, and at first, I was a little disappointed. But two things occurred to me: 1: This was a companion novel. Not a sequel. Forman's last duet was sequential, and I also simply wanted this one to be a sequel, because I wanted to know what happened after the end of Just One Day. But this is Willem's half of the story, and the ending is not necessarily the important part of the story.
2: I realized that, like Allyson and Willem, I was mourning the loss of the One Day. It was perfect, and over too fast. Truth be told, I said in my review of Just One Day that the coverage of the day itself felt like a whole novel, and I was surprised by the end of it that there were more pages to be read.
But then I realized that the two of them start off in their slumps because they've idolized the One Day so much. Yes, they have such good reason to, and there's nothing wrong in remembering it, but because they put so much pressure on the day itself, and not what it revealed about the two of them, that they initially aren't able to grow, which needed to happen in order for them to find each other. So, yes, the One Day was spectacular. And unlike them, I have the privilege of revisiting it whenever I want (the power of a reader, mwahaha!). But the day must not be expected to envelop the whole story. It's the "but one day..." the springboard. It's instrumental, but not all-encompassing.
That being said, I was reading the ending of Just One Year over and over, savoring it. Because it was perfect. This entire novel, this entire series, was perfect.(less)
I'm kicking myself for not having read The Fifth Wave sooner than I did. This book is like being slammed into by a tractor trailer, in the best way po...moreI'm kicking myself for not having read The Fifth Wave sooner than I did. This book is like being slammed into by a tractor trailer, in the best way possible. In the first sixty pages, we've been told everything that has happened so far, and it's so overwhelming that you become so bonded to the characters, because you're able to understand where they're at. Every emotion Cassie felt, I felt as well. It's overwhelming and frustrating, but an incredible experience. Never in a post-apocalyptic/dystopian novel have I been able to fully grasp the loneliness and fear that comes with being in the characters' situations, and I applaud Rick Yancey for the accomplishment. Nothing in this story is black and white, and you never know what you're supposed to trust. It's the plight of the characters, that they can't trust anyone or even themselves, and it was incredible to have that so seamlessly communicated through the writing. I can not wait to see what the sequels have in store for us.
P.S. This book reads like the movie it absolutely MUST be adapted into.(less)