Rafe thinks it will be no big deal to keep the fact that he is gay a secret. He doesn't want his sexuality to be the only thing people see about him....moreRafe thinks it will be no big deal to keep the fact that he is gay a secret. He doesn't want his sexuality to be the only thing people see about him. He sees boarding school as a chance for others to know him in other ways. What he discovers is that you can't lie about or avoid a big chunk of how you experience the world, then think you can build a true relationship.
I once told a small lie to protect someone, but the lie grew, and lasted more years than I want to say. The initial lie was manageable, but the continuous lies to keep up the first one were what became hurtful. I had to confess to the person I'd lied to, and no matter how I tried to explain I'd no intention of hurting anyone, the person I'd deceived never quite forgave me. Several months ago, someone else tried to persuade me to tell another small lie which, older and wiser, I knew would end up too big to handle again. I apologized, and said no. Rafe got the lesson a lot quicker.
Rafe is very likable. Even when he is lying or making mistakes, it's easy to be in his corner. I find myself hoping the author will allow us to catch up with him in the future. I'll be the first person in line to buy a copy. (Okay, okay, I meant to say I'll happily preorder it for my Kindle!)
Lastly, the ending was honest, and fair. Which isn't to say it ended exactly how all readers would like, but it felt authentic. (less)
It’s a great idea, right? So cool of a concept that I read the...moreOriginally posted to Red Adept Reviews.
Overall: 3 1/2 stars
Plot/Storyline: 3 3/4 stars
It’s a great idea, right? So cool of a concept that I read the article and purchased the book as soon as I could. I love the concept, but am a little less enamored when it comes to the execution of the story and to matters of characterization.
As far as it goes, I think it’s a helpful book for teens. Any story that preaches that bullying and casual cruelties have consequences is a needed message. The issue becomes what responsibility Hannah has for her choice and if the punishment fits the crimes. If nothing else, the discussions it opens up will be interesting.
Hannah says to these people that what they did lead to what she did and, by implication, they should carry the guilt of that. I suspect most readers will think that in the case of one or two of the people they should have to live with and struggle with that. However, some of the people were rude, or ignorant, or mean, or even casually cruel, but it’s arguable if it’s fair to expect them to carry the burden of Hannah’s decision – particularly in the case of a girl who was a victim herself or a guidance counselor whom she only met one time and set up for failure.
While the premise is good, I couldn’t help but think that it needed to take two paths — one of benevolence and education toward people who could not have known or one of anger toward people who were truly reprehensible. The difficulty is her anger toward both groups as if their “sins” were equal. Ultimately, this choice will put some readers in the uncomfortable position of realizing they dislike, or disapprove of, a girl who took her own life.
There was also the small detail that she threatened that if people didn’t listen and pass it on that another party would make sure that the tapes got out – but I can’t imagine that the adult recipient wouldn’t contact the authorities based on details in the tape. I also can’t imagine Hannah not knowing that.
Lastly, the reason why Clay was on the list seemed too easy, a bit off a cop-out, even a cheat, since – without saying more – he stood alone. This removed some of the power I might have felt.
Characters: 3 1/4 stars
There are two main characters here. Hannah and Clay. We meet the other characters who have received or will receive the take, sometimes during the course of Clay’s travels around town as he listens, but mostly through Hannah’s narration. As mentioned, when she speaks we also read Clay’s reactions to her words. Clay is pretty likable character. Some of the other characters are villainous. Others seem like kids making stupid mistakes.
I believe that we were supposed to see Clay as someone who could have saved her, if only he was more confident, if only he had listened to rumors less. For once, I don’t think Hannah put the burden on someone else so much as Clay felt understandable guilt at not reaching out to her sooner. (Understandable in the sense of it being a natural reaction, not in the sense of being justified.)
As mentioned, I had complex feelings toward Hannah. Obviously there’s built in sympathy for her, but it was hard to read her deliberate cruelty toward others. Suicide can sometimes be a very angry act, a way to punish others for real or perceived grievances, and the choice can be made for what seems to the outside world to be petty, but feels like the weight of the world to the person in question. Understanding all of this doesn’t change the fact that Hannah comes across as vindictive and looking for scapegoats.
I don’t get the feeling I was supposed to agree with Hannah completely, but I do get the impression I wasn’t supposed to be as irritated with her as much as I was, which was about 60% of the time. While teens are self-involved and this one was in a bad place, she was surprisingly difficult to root for in her efforts and I – yeah, I’m going to hell – never felt particularly saddened that the girl speaking had shuffled off this mortal coil. The inherent poignancy of the story she was telling couldn’t always rise above what seemed to be a need to punish. Think of Carrie, without the supernatural stuff, with 100% less pig’s blood, and with more time on her hands and a tape recorder.
On the plus side, there were a fair amount of minor characters, and the author did a pretty good job with them. I felt like I knew them.
Writing Style: 3 3/4 stars
Several nice moments, but in many ways this felt like a first book. This book called for a balance between Hannah’s telling her story and Clay reacting and also moving around town as he listened, and it never felt like the author quite worked out the right ratio. Many of the descriptions were good, places were described vividly in several cases, but at other moments it all felt a little flat.(less)
Receive free copy through Amazon Vine. It was aight. For a YA set at a prep school, followed the P&P plot fairly closely. Pretty innocent/nothing...moreReceive free copy through Amazon Vine. It was aight. For a YA set at a prep school, followed the P&P plot fairly closely. Pretty innocent/nothing graphic -- some underage drinking presented as a bad thing, implication that character's passed out state could make her vulnerable. (less)
Nice read. Although this is YA, very similar to other books by the authors. The story is centered around the Clovis people and incorporates the scienc...moreNice read. Although this is YA, very similar to other books by the authors. The story is centered around the Clovis people and incorporates the science that speculates that a cataclysmic event occurred in North America around 13,000 years ago.
Parents who have an issue with religions other than Christianity might opt not to buy this for the younger suggested ages due to the prevalence of topics like spirit guides and possession, as well as some fairly gruesome descriptions of death and mutilation. (less)
Coming-of-age story about the nature of love, finding a healthy relationship, and traveling with giant Big Boy statues while bonding with your sisters...moreComing-of-age story about the nature of love, finding a healthy relationship, and traveling with giant Big Boy statues while bonding with your sisters. (less)
I liked the movie, but I liked this more. Michael Cera's take on Nick was different from the Nick in the book, and the story here was much more intere...moreI liked the movie, but I liked this more. Michael Cera's take on Nick was different from the Nick in the book, and the story here was much more interesting, with the exception of the sub-plot in the movie involving Norah's trashy friend's adventures.
The chapters alternated POVs between the two titular characters and I thought it worked very well. It was easy to root for the two of them to get together.(less)