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The Wicker King

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When August learns that his best friend, Jack, shows signs of degenerative hallucinatory disorder, he is determined to help Jack cope. Jack’s vivid and long-term visions take the form of an elaborate fantasy world layered over our own—a world ruled by the Wicker King. As Jack leads them on a quest to fulfill a dark prophecy in this alternate world, even August begins to question what is real or not.

August and Jack struggle to keep afloat as they teeter between fantasy and their own emotions. In the end, each must choose his own truth.

305 pages, Hardcover

First published October 31, 2017

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About the author

K. Ancrum

9 books1,439 followers
K. Ancrum, is the author of  the award winning thriller THE WICKER KING,  the interstellar lesbian romance THE WEIGHT OF THE STARS and the upcoming Peter Pan thriller DARLING. K. is a Chicago native passionate about diversity and representation in young adult fiction. She currently writes most of her work in the lush gardens of the Chicago Art Institute. 

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 2,978 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews153k followers
August 9, 2022
There is a unique sort of agony to this book that I can’t exactly describe. My heart feels both hollowed out and so heavy my chest could not hold it. The Wicker King beckoned me closer with delicate claws then sank its fangs into my heart and I think a part of me will never fully escape it.

Jack and August’s lives should have shot out in different directions: Jack, the golden-haired varsity rugby player with the seemingly perfect life, and August, the poor kid who runs drugs in their high school to make extra money. Instead, they’ve emerged from the other side of their differences with the kind of relationship that is blinding, deafening, maddening. August pushing exactly as hard against Jack as he did against him, so that everything they had built would stay standing and if either let up or gave it more of his weight, it would fall and crumble.

When Jack’s hallucinations begin, Jack settles into the unwavering conviction that he sees into a parallel world in need of rescuing. Helpless, August starts sustaining himself on the misplaced hope that if he humored Jack and helped him cope, Jack would lose the truth of himself a little more slowly. But neither of them is a soft place the other could fall. Both victims of emotionally and physically neglectful parenting, Jack and August are all edges, trying to fill the empty spaces inside with each other. No matter how much August wanted to carry Jack’s luggage, the truth was that he could barely manage his own. They have spent so long building up their shared fortress and learning to tend it all by themselves, but what happens when those ramparts start resembling prison walls, high and barbed and near-impossible to cross? What happens when the demons they’ve barely kept barricaded away by an unhealthy codependency surface? When the dam they’ve built is no longer enough and the floodgates break open on a toy factory they set on fire?

The Wicker King is a brilliantly written and plotted novel, a miasma of wretchedness and pain, a book that I devoured but deeply, utterly abhorred. Over the course of the story, the pages darken which I think effectively communicates the characters’ interior turmoil, heightening it to near-grotesque levels. I was literally holding my hand to my chest like it would keep my heart from breaking out of me. The plot is gripping, and the characters are powerfully drawn, but it's the raw and unpolished look at mental illness, the repercussions of an indifferent, dismissive and neglectful parenting and the dynamics of a deeply unhealthy relationship that makes this a novel that will be hard for readers to forget.

This is a story that will bear so much aching familiarity to many of us—who are digging through the barren and rocky soil of life with the hollow echoing of an instinct we can no longer lean against, who harbor many vacant spaces inside without knowing what it is that carved out the absence, who can’t find a way to tell people closed to us the truth and make them understand it, who quickly find out that returning to a mental place you once knew as well as your own shadow isn’t the same as never leaving at all.

If you’re reading this, I hope you find the strength to get through whatever it is that’s causing you so much trouble or pain at the moment. I hope you know that your heart is built for something other than sorrow and that your mental health is just as important as your physical health. And I hope you feel safe and warm and content, like being wrapped up in a blanket by the fire while it storms outside.

“If you drop the weight you are carrying, it is okay. You can build yourself back up out of the pieces.”
Profile Image for C.G. Drews.
Author 5 books22.5k followers
December 12, 2019
[read 3 | Dec 2019]
because I just needed to feel my heart absolutely melt in my chest before this year ends. I teared up in the author letter AGAIN and I seriously am just over here feeling thoughtful and sad, but in a good way. This book so deeply means a lot to me. I think the thing that stood out to me in this read is: how you can do your best and still fail, but it's not your fault. Please don't beat yourself up or hate yourself for failing when you tried so so hard.

also they all deserves more soft naps 😫 I have too many emotions. i am a mess.

The Wicker King was beautiful -- brilliant, mad, sick, free. He kissed the blisters on the palms of August's hands. "Thank you. Thank you..."

August put the gasoline can down and waited. Jack lit his cigarette, holding it between strong white teeth before passing it over. Like a secondhand kiss on a breath of ash.

Then, with a resolute and terrible sorrow, Jack cradled August's cheek in his nervously shaking hands and kissed him.

"It's not weak. My mom once told me that being alone makes you feel weaker every day, even if you're not," he said quietly. "But it's not as bad if you're with other people who are alone, too. We can hold each other up like a card tower."

[read 2 | May 2018]
Yes I only waited like 5 months to reread this and I'm here to say I am jUST AS IN LOVE WITH IT AS EVER. I still (nearly) cried at the author's note. My heart still sort of beats messily all over the place for this book and these boys and their illnesses and their story, which is part magic and part poison.


[read 1 | January 2018]
JUST SO WE'RE FRIKKIN' CLEAR: THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF MY LIFE. I actually teared up. I actually think part of my soul fell out. I actually care so much about this book I'm just a mess. aghiaglihasfdkl It's really brutal and sad and yet beautiful. It's about mental illness and codependency and unhealthy relationships and neglect and kids just trying to cope the best they can.

It is flawed. It is a flawed story about flawed boys. But can we rewind to the part where I just said: they are trying to cope and hold the world on their shoulders the best they can. And they absolutely mess up. But they try.

I also think this is the kind of book that is more than the words on page. There's lots of suppressed feelings and emotions and underlying psychological reasons and causes. So go in expecting kids to fuck up because THEY DO.

And the mental health rep was just...it was so good. August has definitely got anxiety by the end and I won't go into what Jack has (the book will tell you!) but he's seeing things that aren't there and absolutely losing control. Like they are both so messed up and their relationship is complicated and often unhealthy...but they both needed something and someone to rely on an a constant in their life AND THEY CHOSE EACH OTHER.


Also fully incredible formatting of the book!! As things spiral townwards the pages got blackened and smudgy!! And there's drawings and photos and maps all through out, so it's like a visual experience as well as words! Also the chapters are mega short, like snapshots of their life and I LOVED THAT.

Also I just love books that can actually hit me so emotionally?! (Plus, not gonna lie, this really reminds me of a book I've written so you can just imagine I had a lot of feels from that too.) But I want books that make you think. I want books about flawed people and bad decisions and that desperation to survive when the world is sinking you. Incredible writing. Incredible characters. I just...I care so much about August and Jack. <3

(Also I've seen people say this has queer-baiting?! IT'S REALLY NOT FFS.)

Anyway, I REALLY LOVED THIS ONE. (If you couldn't tell.) The author's note made me fully tear up and I just think...agh. It just has such a strong voice, marvellous writing, and talks so deeply about mental health and emotional ruin and unhealthy relationships and just need. Flat out: NEED. Anyway I'm just going to go flop on the floor. This was everything I hoped it'd be.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,084 reviews17.5k followers
June 30, 2019
Have you ever read a book that you love, but also feel as if you'd be judged by everyone for recommending? This is that book for me. The Wicker King is a weird, weird book, and one I'm sure will be polarizing. But the immersive atmosphere and developed characters absolutely saved this one for me.

Let's talk atmosphere. The Wicker King is told with gradually darkening pages, beginning white and slowly getting darker and darker, and with incredibly short chapters. I found it very hard to put down and utterly engaging. I mean, what do I even say? I could not put it down. The writing is so utterly enthralling. The pacing is so quick, with each page so short that it’s easy to consume.

And now let's talk characters. August and Jack are two of the most TragicTM characters I have ever read about and I sort of love them. August’s character voice is so incredibly well-done, and his love for Jack and Rina is written very well.

I’ve seen plenty of accusations of queerbaiting as to this book, and while I understand the point of view, I disagree. The Wicker King follows a lead character who is written as questioning and a relationship that is somewhere between friends and lovers - until the end. The relationship does actually explicitly become canon towards the end, something that was true for the arc as well but done with much more subtlety. I loved what the author had to say here.

I don’t know. I wasn’t even liking this until the end, but towards the end, I got so deeply emotional. I think Ancrum’s vision for this book is brilliant and I’m so glad I got a chance to read it.

I feel like so much of this book was messed up. The two lead characters are… sort of obsessed with each other, and K. Ancrum strays so far from narratively supporting or decrying some of the actions taken by characters in this book that I almost didn’t know how to feel about anything. But I think K. Ancrum strays away from making this story feel like a romanticizing of mental illness by showing the gritty realism of it all.

All in all, I thought this was brilliant. You'll either think it's weird or think it's just as brilliant as I did, and you know what? I think it's a chance you should take.

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Profile Image for destiny ♡ howling libraries.
1,655 reviews5,129 followers
March 11, 2022
#1 The Wicker King ★★★★★
#1.5 The Legend of the Golden Raven ★★★★☆

I originally read this book as an ARC, and was really bothered by a few things in it. I was so disappointed that I gave it 2.5 stars, but as the finished copy released, I started receiving messages from friends, saying it was different from what I had reviewed. I was confused, but didn’t look too deeply into it until the author contacted me and explained. She told me she had changed a lot of what bothered me in the ARC, and asked would I like to read the finished copy.

She was so kind, and I had wanted so badly to love this book, so I reread it, assuming that I would be at least marginally more pleased with the finished release. I never expected her to have fixed it so perfectly that I would love it this much. I am so happy that I gave this book a “second chance”, and after much deliberating, have actually decided to remove my old review entirely, because honestly, this book is entirely worth your time. <3

“They have stories about you, songs. They call you the Raven, the Golden Bird, the King’s Lionheart. Women smile at you as we walk in the streets; men talk about you over their fires. It’s written all over the walls. They love you and you can’t even see them… my Lionheart. Can you imagine?”

August and Jack are such odd little characters, and I love them so much. They’re broken kids at their cores, truly; Jack’s parents are so absent and neglectful it genuinely hurts to watch, and August’s mother is only present in the physical sense, yet so rarely in a proper mental state to take care of him that he’s forced to compromise his own future through drug dealing, just to keep the lights on. These are two kids who have found themselves raising themselves, and one another, and it doesn’t always turn out pretty.

Jack owned him. In a way. It was difficult to explain, but the feeling was as familiar to him as his own name.

When I first read the ARC of this book, I was left with a lot of questions about the relationship between August and Jack, but the finished release answers them all, and more. This book is incredibly unique in the fact that it is the first time I have ever seen a dom/sub relationship like this in a YA contemporary book, and I lived for it!

He fell. Groaning. Thinking of chapped lips, strong arms, and freckles.

I constantly feel like I am yelling into the void when I ask for sex positivity and healthy kink in YA books, to show teens and young adults that it’s just fine to like things that might not be “vanilla” enough for the general masses, but reading The Wicker King, I felt like the author was hearing me (and those of you who have shared similar sentiments) loud and clear.

(ETA: I actually even found this through the author’s twitter, which does have some spoilers, but also offers bona fide proof of the intended D/S mechanics, in case anyone is curious.)

“I see you the same. I don’t think it will ever change… It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing my colors or dressed like this. You’re always just you.”

Now, don’t get me wrong—this isn’t just a story of two boys finding one another; it’s also an adventure tale through Jack’s hallucinations, and those scenes are often confusing in the best way. It’s a whirlwind at times, and I even found myself wondering more than once, “What’s real? Is this actually happening?” It’s utterly captivating, and magical, and I would happily be first in line for another book of their adventures and Jack’s seemingly accidental romanticisms.

Jack laughed. “How romantic. My knight in shining fucking armor.”

I don’t want to spoil anyone for anything in this book, so I won’t say much more, but what I will say is that I don’t remember the last time I rooted this hard for a pair of characters in a YA contemporary. August and Jack are some of the most unique, authentic, and genuinely interesting characters I have met in a long time, and I would love nothing more than to spend so much more time with them.

Thank you so, so much to the author of this beautiful little book, and everyone I’ve spoken to about it, for convincing me to give it another try. I will carry it with me in my heart, and I know this is a story I will revisit time and time again. I absolutely cannot wait to see what K. Ancrum creates for us next.
Profile Image for Melanie.
1,167 reviews98.2k followers
January 29, 2019

“Would you do something bad if you knew it would have more good in it, in the end, than bad?”

Okay, I just want to start this review off that this book will forever be sentimental to me, not only because it was the first book I read this year and that I absolutely loved it, but also because it was the very first pick for the Dragons & Tea Book Club and the author came into the group and answered so many questions that made this one of the best reading experiences I’ve ever had in my entire life. This book will just always have a special place in my heart now.

It all starts with seeing two boys breaking into a toy factory, which lands them in an asylum in 2003, and we get to see a dark and intense unfolding of what lead them to this action. We get to see their love for each other and the devotion they both have for one another. This story is told with a lot of multimedia elements that really helps make it feel even more real, and when the story gets darker the pages also become darker, which completely takes the story to another level in my opinion.

But The Wicker King essentially is a story about two high school boys from Michigan, who are both being extremely neglected in very different ways, and they find what they are missing within each other. We get to see August, and his perspective, as Jack starts to get hallucinations and is able to see a dark fantasy world on top of and coexisting with our world. August does everything to try to help Jack and get him to only see our reality, but August is also struggling with his mental health and isn’t heeding the advice of those around him to get help. To August, only Jack makes things better, and to Jack, August is the only one who can ground him.

“The world was so big and they were very small and there was no one around to stop terrible things from happening.”

I’m not going to say Jack and August’s relationship is the healthiest, but it is so realistic and so what both of them needed so desperately in a world that made them feel alone. I ugly cried throughout most of this book partly because I wanted to help them both so badly and also because their intertwining spirals were so realistic and so heartbreaking.

“It was the debt. The river. It was his religion now.”

I also cried a lot because the side character, Rina, was so pure and helped ground these two lost boys so much. She gave them a safe place, she gave them solace, and she gave them unconditional love. She truly was the shining star of this book for me and my love grew for her right alongside these two boys.

I loved the mental health depictions in this book, and you can tell the care that the author took while writing this story. I also loved how queer this story is, and it makes me giggle that some people needed to be told that Jack and August had feelings for each other in the finished copy, because this entire book is a love letter to these two boys loving each other. Also, in terms of diversity besides sexuality and mental health, Rina is a person of color.

Overall, I just loved this book more than words. Being in August’s mind is an experience that I will never forget and that I will keep locked in my heart for all time. I cannot wait to start The Weight of the Stars next month, especially since K. Ancrum confirmed a glimpse at a polyamorous relationship that I guarantee is going to add five years onto my life. Lastly, this book has the best dedication and author’s note I’ve ever read in my entire life (and I’ve read a lot of books)!

“If you drop the weight you are carrying, it is okay. You can build yourself back up out of the pieces.”

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Content and trigger warnings for severe neglect, abandonment, panic attacks, depression depictions, underage drinking, and ableist speech.

This was the first pick in me and Amy's book club for 2019: Dragons and Tea Book Club! 🐉☕
Profile Image for Kayla Dawn.
291 reviews894 followers
May 22, 2019
This was fucked up in the best way possible! 🙌🏻
(Regularly editing this review so people see it on their feed and pay attention to this book!!!)

(But please be aware y'all that the relationship that's portrayed in this book is not healthy by any means ok that's it thank you for your attention goodbye)
Profile Image for jessica.
2,533 reviews32.4k followers
May 25, 2019
‘to all the kids whose arms are filled with too much for them to hold, but who are trying their best not to drop a single thing.’

and as if this books dedication was an inevitable premonition, my body is now working overtime to hold the immense weight of this story.

this story is a dark and heavy scrapbook of feelings, thoughts, fantasies and hallucinations. as jacks mental state grows gloomier and more frantic, the reader encounters darker and more unorganised pages. what a phenomenal representation of mental illness and how its presence creeps and looms. having such a tangible demonstration of what the characters are feeling not only gives the story an interactive touch, but also allows the reader to have a more empathetic understanding and insight. and although it may not be the prettiest, is just so very raw and real and a lot to carry.

and it for these reasons, the particular shrouded heaviness the reader is required to carry once the final page is turned, that ive sat on this review and rating for awhile. but like the author mentions in her note - ‘if you drop the weight youre carrying, it is okay. you can build yourself back up out of the pieces.’ what a memorable piece of advice that is. and what a unforgettable story.

4.5 stars
Profile Image for megs_bookrack.
1,536 reviews9,779 followers
March 31, 2022
The Wicker King is an original and hard-hitting YA Contemporary story. This novel left me breathless.

It was like being sucker-punched in the gut, but in a good way. I felt it in my heart, my bones and my head.

August and Jack.

This is the story of their relationship, but at its heart, it is so much more than that.

Oddly enough, as touching as this story is, the overwhelming emotion I had while reading was anger.

I wasn't angry at August and Jack though, I was angry at the characters we didn't really know. The absent adults: the parents, the teachers, the counselors.

Where were all the people who should have been helping, leading and guiding these boys?


((sounds of crickets))

The story closely follows August and Jack during the course of their increasingly codependent relationship.

Is that relationship good?
It's powerful. I wouldn't call it good.

Is that relationship confusing?
Darn right, it is.

Is that relationship healthy?
Definitely not.

Jack is suffering from hallucinations that are getting progressively worse. He confides in August, his best friend and together they try to navigate this new and disordered world.

We get a lot of insight into Jack's world and it is chaotic and bizarre. It was very sad to me to consider how scary and desperate that must be.

August, who cares not only for himself but his completely useless mother, is used to the role of caregiver and throws himself into that role in his relationship with Jack. You see, Jack's parents are also missing in action, ALL THE TIME.

Both boys have essentially been abandoned by their parents, so it is not surprising that they turn to one another in their darkest hours.

While I think it would be easy to focus on the codependency of the boys relationship, I think it is important to see the details of what is going on behind the scene. What propelled the boys into the circumstances we find them in during the course of the book.

The absentee adults are the real villains here and I think it is significant to recognize how their choices influence those around them.

The story itself, although not literally 'stream of consciousness', reminded me a lot of some stream of consciousness works that I have read, in that it was disjointed and muddled. I think that makes sense though as a way to tell this story.

The story of Jack and August is disjointed and confusing. They are experiencing their life this way. Why shouldn't the reader go along for the ride in the same vein?

I also found the format of the book itself, how the pages get increasingly darker the farther you get into the story (Hardcover Edition) contributed to my overall enjoyment while reading.

It was a very unique way to experience a story such as this and I really want to applaud whoever was responsible for coming up with that concept. Whether it was the author herself or someone at the publishing house, I found it super effective and impressive.

Overall, I was very moved by this story. It felt so original and like it was an important (I feel like I have been using that word a lot in this review) story to tell.

I was hovering somewhere around a 4-to-4.5-star rating throughout the course of the story but after reading the Author's Note, I had to bump it up to 5.

I will definitely pick up anything else they write. Very impressive.
Profile Image for emma.
1,822 reviews48.1k followers
October 21, 2021
Things I like:
- books with like, fake documents and stuff in them
- unreliable narrators
- mental breakdown fiction

Things I don't like:
- undying devotion

Things I learned while reading this:
- I hate undying devotion so much and find it so painfully secondhand-embarrassing to read about that it threatened to overcome all the things I DO like, even though previously I would have said love is stronger than hate
- The power of cringe is the strongest force in the universe.

Bottom line: End earnestness forever!!!


turns out i think undying devotion is cringe.

review to come now / 3 i think

currently-rereading updates

i learned my lesson. i'm rereading a hard copy before i review

first pre-review

so THAT'S why i don't like audiobooks. now i remember.

review to come / 3? 4? ugh

tbr review

not sure how this book, which sounds entirely up my alley, wasn't even on my to-read list until now. but i'm working on it
Profile Image for anna (½ of readsrainbow).
587 reviews1,785 followers
December 3, 2022
rep: bi mc with anorexia, anxiety and depression, bi mc with peduncular hallucinosis, Indian li, polyam relationship
tw: codependency, arson, violence, hallucinations, panic attacks, depression, parental neglect, abuse

Things I loved about this:

» the characters. August & Jack are utterly lovable (and spoiler alert: in love), but also “problematique”, by which I mean they both struggle with their mental health, while not getting any help from adults around them. Their relationship was one of the most intense ones I have ever read about & there are no clean lines there, but that just makes it so much more interesting. If you thought Gansey & Ronan’s friendship was exciting (the “While I’m gone, dream me the world” bit!), you are gonna LOVE this. (And realise what it was you found missing in TRC.)

» the atmosphere. The book literally starts with the boys being arrested for committing arson & then we get to see their journey toward that point and its fallout. And, exactly like you can imagine, this means that the story starts dark and only gets darker & darker & more creepy. It crawls under your skin, it catches your breath. It also wouldn’t probably be received by the reader in such a vivid & harsh way, if it wasn’t for the two main characters and the fact that’s clear from the very beginning: that they would both die for each other, gladly. Because with that kind of a relationship to read about, it’s really hard not to care about the characters yourself.

» the setting. It’s marketed as a psychological thriller and yes, that’s pretty much what you’re getting yourself into. But there’s also this whole fantasy world within the story and when you’re not thinking about how fucked up it is that it’s here - it’s truly amazing. It’s not some golden magical kingdom you might be thinking about, though. It’s a kingdom, alright, but a dark one, full of thorny branches, endless hungry crows & champions who look like your friends, but with dead hollow eyes. This world, like everything in this story, gets darker & more dangerous with every turned page and leaves you wishing for a good night’s sleep.

» the grand scheme of things. I mentioned there are some questionable elements in the boys’ relationship. Those make everything that much more intense & they rip your heart out, but also: nothing about them is really healthy. See, the thing about The Wicker King is, though, that it acknowledges that. Throughout the book, in some small yet clearly visible ways but also - the whole ending is a testament to that. The boys get better, they finally know what’s going on & they know they have to break the cycle.

» the side characters. This is connected to the previous point, to actually getting better. Because my favourite part about the supporting characters - all of them beautiful teens! - is that they are real friends. They are all trying very hard to help August & Jack, to keep them in check & not to let them run wild. To set some reasonable boundaries.

» the writing. It kind of seems almost irresponsible to make a whole separate point just about this when in truth - the writing holds the story together. It fits perfectly into the eerie scenes it describes, making them more poignant & making sense of them. Ancrum’s style is beautiful in this simple & yet powerful way that we’re used to finding in poetry, not in prose. The shortness of the chapters helps with that aspect as well but mostly, it’s this amazing attention to detail. With a style that’s first of all haunting, Ancrum makes the reader focus on just the emotions she needs (and that we’d rather not think about).

» the titles of chapters. I must admit I was a little put out & a little confused by how short the chapters are at first. That feeling went away quickly and I realised it works out fabulously here, actually. But the titles themselves, they’re sometimes very straightforward (just a name or a place or a one-word description) & sometimes they make no sense at all. Until you finish the chapter and then the title puts the scene in a completely new perspective & makes it twice as painful. (I’m still thinking about “Communion” days later…)

The Wicker King is a lyrical fall down a rabbit hole. It’s terrifying, but won’t let you rest until you reach the very end. And just when you’re thinking you won’t ever wake up from the nightmare again, that you’re stuck in this suffocating prison of prickles & thorns forever - it turns the light back on.
Profile Image for ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️.
603 reviews731 followers
March 14, 2018
This was good beyond expectations. I loved August & Jack and I, not only felt for them but with them.
There’re so many thoughts going through my mind and want to say so much but think I need a little bit of time to process it all.

I loved their connection and their intense friendship (SO MUCH) which enables both to survive parental neglect and absence however while you’re reading, you get a sense of an impending doom kind of feeling because you know their incredibly unhealthy, toxic codependent relationship will eventually lead both of them to the edge of insanity in order to bring Jack back into reality.
And readers are forced to follow them into the darkness as quite literally, the pages turn from white to gray to black.
The chapters are also extremely short (mostly one page long), which, I don’t know about you but for me it makes for a fast read and are punctuated by pictorial elements such as arrest reports, snapshots, and maps.

All in all, it was a haunting read that simply gave me a sense of dread the whole way through. Seriously, I was anxious from start to finish because their struggles and intense emotions felt so real and authentic.
Profile Image for Ashley.
800 reviews441 followers
April 28, 2023
Star Rating: 4.5 Stars

Holy F. What a heart wrenching, beautiful queer love story. One of my favorite books ever, hands down! I just want more more more more Jack & August ...I’m begging for more here. Oh and did I say more?

1. More because I loved the book,
2. More because I loved August,
3. More because I loved Jack,
4. More because I loved Jack & August,
5. Also more because the ending?!?! How could she do us like that, man?!?! So short! Way too short!

I feel as if the end of this book is like one of those awkward encounters with someone you don’t know in public that go pretty much like this:
Ending: Oh, Hai!
Me: H—
Ending: Oh sorry, thought you were someone else! Bye-eeee *walks away.*
Me: *thinks wt actual f? Mmmk. How rude.*
Also Me, 2 Minutes Later:
*pines for MORE again and whines on goodreads*

That’s why it lost .5 stars. In case anyone was, um, wondering.

I’m pretty sure throughout this review my undying love for both Jack & August is quite, quite, prominently, obvious, lol- but I also loved the book’s formatting, I loved the story, I loved the writing, and I loved the fact that well... I don’t want to reveal any spoilers, but I really, really loved the ending (with the exception of the topic of my rant above).
Also; I just want to quickly say:


To any of you out there struggling with any type of mental illness (and anyone at all):

You are not flawed; you are perfect. You are beautiful. You are you, & you are lovely.
* Please don’t be afraid to seek help if you suspect you may have symptoms of ANY mental illness .*

Back to the book:

GOODNESS; I loved well, most of the characters although the character building of the supporting characters is a bit weak IMO. But I’m just in love with the main characters, Jack & August (with their “faults” that aren’t truly their fault, and 100% aren’t actual faults at all. I mean, these are kids in high school- Ignored by both their parents & teachers leaving them with no real resources to properly address the situation and surely no help to rely on. So; they are left to their own devices and a feeling of NEEDING to make things right).

Jack’s state is obviously much more serious than the two realize, and most definitely not just, as August puts it at one point, “bad,” which naturally, August does not, and could not be aware of, or even know how to handle the situation. So, Instead of seeking real help, they do the only thing that they see as an option- to go on the quest calling to Jack in his version of the world, which August, nor anyone else, can see, desperately hoping that completing said quest will “fix Jack
and all of his other problems. August helps him because he sees no other way, and he is desperate for Jack to get better, for the aforementioned reasons.

Needless to say, Jack AND August are BOTH extremely ill, in their own completely different ways, which is revealed little by little, as the book progresses. August’s issues are a little more subdued in comparison to Jack’s, but are none-the-less still there and still just as important.

With all of that said, both boys are just trying to LIVE, trying so very hard to fix the sh*tty situation(s) that they have, quite literally, found themselves in.

They deal with these problems the only way that they know how to. I mean... how could two young kids (seniors in high school) who have been neglected by every single adult in their life and have only had each other for the better part of their lifetimes- be anything BUT extremely loyal to one another, and also extremely & ridiculously ill-equipped to handle the issues at hand?

None of this changes that fact that both of them are so, so, beautiful, so incredibly beautiful, in so many ways. I’m just enamored with these two.

Additionally; The Wicker King covered two parts of the Rubik’s cube that is me, for me (though more #2 than #1 here):

1. The part of me 7 years after graduating college w/ a degree in Psychology: The journey here was both fascinating & eye-opening (I am pretty sure Jack had schizophrenia? It’s been a longgg time lol- and I would never want to misdiagnose!), especially because I’ve never been take on a magical journey through a fictional depiction of something like that, ever! What an original, heart-wrenching story (yes I still was a sap; I just don’t feel defined by my degree anymore and I’m way more in tune with my, & other people’s, emotions... I guess that kinda happens on your freakin way to turning 30 this freakin July. 😭 I’m not readyyyyy haha), that kept me wondering what was going to happen next the entire time.

2. The part of me that pretty much takes up (most of) my entire heart, (and let’s be honest here— the leftover parts of my heart that have nothing to do with any of this at ALL— are MOST LIKELY also just AT LEAST ever-so-slightly shrouded in this part of me, as well): EMOTION! I am legitimately emotional AF.
So, yeah— RE: the “FEELINGSSSSS” part of me:
I gotta say, a huge part of me is an empath, so this truly made my HEART HURTTT, continuously... I mean like, over and over and... I could go on saying over and over forever, lol.

I found that in a relative sense, I was more in tune with August’s emotions, and I just felt as if I could TRULY feel his pain, just from reading this story- which i’ve never experienced even close to an experience as the experiences those boys went through in this novel... but I could just... feel it. K. Ancrum’s writing is just
THAT p o w e r f u l .

As far as Jack’s part in the story is concerned... wow, I can empathize and sympathize but I can’t even come close to truly feeling what he was truly feeling; only a person with the same or a very similar illness could. The only way I can come even close to doing so is to strip the events down to their simplest meaning possible. Then, and only then can I TRY to associate how I’ve felt in certain situations with the same kind of (again... only when you peel away every single layer and are left with the smallest part of the core) feelings, well, as much as any person can imagine/ empathize with what another is feeling/ going through. A part I don’t want to spoil, however, I can completely 100% relate to.

Another feeling I can completely relate to, maybe we can all relate to, I’m sure... is that sometimes you are aware something is wrong, but cannot/ feel like you cannot do much about it. Some may feel hopelessly out of control of the situation.

So yeah. This was an amazing, both relatable, & magical story about two seniors in high school, fighting mental illness in both a real (for Jack) world AND a fictional (for August) world, a remarkable relationship, and the lengths one will go for the ones they love.

Anyway; let’s just say my heart needs some recovery time because it took a ride on quite the emotional rollercoaster these last few days where I actually had a chance time read. ‘twas a vicious cycle, my friends.

I grew to love August & Jack very quickly & so very, very, much ❤️; to say that their journey was a flawed & difficult one is an understatement to say the least! But what is flawed & difficult, can also be beautiful, and it all, very much was.
I think it was the perfect depiction of what it was set out to depict.

I highly recommend , although I’m still frustrated with the ending lol.
BUT if you strongly disliked the formatting of the illuminae books, you most likely will not like this either , since the kind of formatting is pretty much the same (albeit a lot less intense & jam packed with info, plus there are pages of “normal” text in between the pages of “unique formatting”)... photos, documents, short excerpts, that kind of thing. It is not your traditional novel.

I must commend & express my thoughts on the author :

I think that K. Ancrum is absolutely brilliant & wonderful, & so very strong to create a fictional work depicting a situation that involved subjects and emotions that I’m sure must be/ have been very sensitive for her to put out there. Athough this tale is fictional, she found herself in a very real situation that was very similar to this one at around the same age,and this book serves as a sort of warning to others to seek help for ANY psychological illness. Though far from these exact fictional occurrences, I cannot even begin to imagine how she felt/ what emotions she had to feel all over again to go through every single step in getting this out on the shelves.

I truly respect & love her for writing this novel.
I just absolutely respect her facing her past to share this original, creative, emotional, informative, different, REMARKABLE, story.
I so ridiculously BEYOND respect her for raising more mental health awareness, unabashedly, and especially targeted at a YA audience.

... I just loved it all, with all of my heart.

So clearly I 100% recommend this to any and all readers.

💕and if you need a reminder, today, or any time, I love you all, my fellow bookish friends! You Are Loved.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
838 reviews3,755 followers
February 15, 2021
Don't sleep on The Weight of the Stars, The Wicker King's companion novel! Preorder it here

Upon closing The Wicker King, I opened my eyes and I just... blinked, in that forlorn way we do when we're so affected that the real world around us has stopped making sense. It's the kind of novel that fails to be contained in any kind of genre, but honestly, it delivers just the kind of weird, dark atmosphere that never fails to enrapture me. Think Charm & Strange. Teeth.

I swear I'm going to do my best to write a real review but it's hard alright?? I just need you to know that. It's fucking eating at me. This story is like a cockroach trying to erase my all being and I'm fighting but in a good way? I'd be like aw cockroach why are you that way I love you, let me pet you - and that's when you know I lost it because I'd more likely yell die bitch!! if a cockroach ever talks to me?? I mean??

Anyway, you're probably wondering why I'm even starting this """review""" by inflicting such creepiness on you but really, it makes sense. I swear it does. The Wicker King is like this adorable puppy who really is a cannibalistic zombie, who lures you into a fake sense of security, breaking your heart at your feet before slowly trying to make it whole again. I loved it so, so much.

So. What does The Wicker King  do?


The Wicker King  makes you care about characters who're so neglected and lonely that you want to wrap them into a blanket and protect them but you CAN'T. These two glorious boys who deserve the world and who are just trying to do the best they can, damn it, and you, useless witness you cannot help but be affected and your heart is just squeezing randomly? Like a fucking entity that will not slow the fuck down and you're struggling to breathe? If only they stopped being so fucking precious perhaps you could stop falling in love with them and avoid the heartache?

me : i just want to feel good
book : okay but have you tried smashing your heart on the floor

Trust me, I've read my fair share of unhealthy relationships, but never before was co-dependency addressed in text in such a raw and honest way.
"They were breathing in tandem now."

Never before did I feel so strongly that it wasn't my role to judge the characters but rather, to let them figure it out on their own and did I say that they were just trying to cope? Yeah? It's important to me to point this out because that's something I've been guilty of in the past, that is to say, judging teens characters through my adult eyes when really, I should know better.

I should remember how it feels when you're 17 and none of your actions seem to break through the fog draped around the adults around you.

I should remember the intense sentiment of exhilaration one might feel around this someone who sees you.
"It started small, but it bubbled bigger every minute. Rising black and ugly through the veins in his feet, up and up, bursting through his cells and filling his lungs, encasing itself around his bones and finally spilling from his eyes, tacky like tar. It tumbled from his mouth in a howl of rage so deep it shook his teeth. The hairs rose on the back of his neck.
It was a shout of pain so pure and hot, he could have sworn it was burning out his eyes."

Granted, I've often ranted about teen characters who try to handle things they clearly aren't equipped to, screaming in the void, where are the adults?

But you know, these neglected kids exist. They're all around us, and it's so, so easy to close our eyes and fail to see them. So fucking easy. One of the hardest lesson I've learned as a teacher is that sometimes, the system doesn't allow you enough place to... not make a difference, because we can, and I wouldn't be a teacher if I didn't believe it, but sometimes, even if you know in your core that something isn't right, the system won't help you - it will fight you, because stability is more important to the system than the lives of children. And trust me, I know how that sounds, and I'm not saying that the system is full of selfish individuals. But rather, that for individuals to get things done, a fight is needed and that yes, some adults are not willing to jump into it. And that breaks my heart. Paperwork will be filled, jobs considered done, and meanwhile, kids will be hurt. Then people will whisper, wide-eyed, how could that have happened? and I'll want to punch them in the face because they refuse to see when it matters. Adults, please don't be strangers. Please.
"Even as the sky falls and the only thing I can hear besides your voice is the screams of the dying and the thundering of horses?"

Told through short chapters that suit the story perfectly, one of most impressive quality of The Wicker King lies in its ability to make us connect so thoroughly with the characters that we evolve along with August, more and more trapped in Jack's hallucinations, until the dark atmosphere envelops us completely. Kayla Ancrum's gorgeous and compelling writing allows us to take part in their whimsical quest and when the end comes, we're shocked by the prickling awareness that we might as well have built our golden prison ourselves. We're there, with them, for better and for worst. If my heartbeat is some kind of judge, mostly, for the best.
"August didn't realize he was crying until his sobs began to choke him. "Is it over? Is it over? Is it over?"

Now, I've seen questions about a possible queerbaiting and I wanted to address it : I understand that readers who read the arc were put off by the open ending regarding August and Jack's relationship, especially because queerbaiting is real and still so prevalent in young adult fiction. However, 1) August and Jack's romance is canon in the finished version (Jack is bisexual, August is still questioning) and 2) I strongly believe that portraying questioning youths (and adults) is important, because they exist and hence deserve representation.

Finally, what are you waiting for? 398 ratings on Goodreads in a world in which All the Bright Places gets hundreds of thousands? I think the fuck not. I'd rather quit this site than see this ok not really because Goodreads is more or less my diary but that sucks? See what i mean?

The Wicker King is The Glorious Thing I Will Never Forget. Period.

Now I need the paperback because the color gradient looks gorgeous.

TW - abuse, neglect, mental-illness (Jack has a degenerative hallucinatory disorder), codependency, anxiety, panic attacks, violence, use of ableist words like cr*zy.

The Author's Note was everything. Read it.

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,009 reviews1,327 followers
January 5, 2019
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“If you drop the weight you are carrying, it is okay. You can build yourself back up out of the pieces.”

🌟 I have been thinking how to review and rate this since I have finished it and I decided that writing my thoughts might help me in the final say about this book.

🌟 I also should say that I added this as a recommendation and then kind of lost interest in it but then was in the mood to read it again which I did!

🌟 I am always complaining in my reviews about books with slow pacing. This did not have slow-pacing, on the contrary the pacing is fast which should have been great for me but my problem is that this fast pacing along with the format of the story did not just work for me!

🌟 The chapters are very short and are like snapshots in the 2 MC life and that made it hard for me to relate to any of the characters. I think my problem is the characters, I did not know what they were doing half of the time, I didn’t know what was their relation to each other and then everything felt scattered to me after that. When I finished I was like “OK?!” and the whole thing didn’t click for me.

🌟 Summary: I don’t know where things went wrong or If it is a case of “me not the book” problem. I was disappointed although the book had some snapshots that I liked. I see many positive reviews which is cool and I am happy other can relate and like this book. I just didn’t like the characters, their relation and the outcome! I wish I could say that I liked this more… I am giving it 2.5 out of 5 stars!
Profile Image for Sara ➽ Ink Is My Sword.
560 reviews417 followers
April 12, 2018

This was just. Oh mY god. I am, no words, I. FUCK. I relate so much to this story like I never expected.

I started disliking this book for at least 60%. then I start relating so bad. then my heart broke into tiny pieces. and finally, I was shedding tears by the Author's note.

I now that if I were to rate this right now by the last 20% I would give it 5 stars. But then what about the first 80%. I really wanna re-read this, knowing how the story will unfold and what to expect. I would pay more attention to detail that I lost while being confused.

I AM SO TRIGGERED as someone who underwent a codependent toxic friendship. But like I am not complaining. I am just hurting immensely now. FUCK.


Buddy reading this with THE BEST, i love her.

This book has gotten a lot of positive reviews, and I am excited. Hopefully, I enjoy this. <3
Profile Image for may ➹.
480 reviews1,937 followers
January 1, 2020
I’m quite shook by how good this was, it’s very rare that books ACTUALLY live up to my expectations!!

and tbh if you don’t add this to your TBR for its fabulous premise, at least add it for that cover

4.5 stars

// buddy read with a sweetoe rat
Profile Image for Shile (Hazard's Version) on-hiatus.
1,090 reviews794 followers
January 16, 2020
4.5 stars

So many amazing reviews have been written about this book. I have got nothing more to add.

-I freaking Loved it.

-This is so fresh.

-Beautifully written.

-Amazing characters.

-Amazing friendship.

-Codependency. I love that shit, i know it is unhealthy but i freaking love it.

That's all!! highly recommended

My only problem is that it is short.
Profile Image for Tina Haigler.
293 reviews99 followers
January 11, 2020
First off, I have to say that this book is gorgeous! The pages start off normal, but progress slowly darker and darker, until the pages are black and the text is white. It added an extra layer of enjoyment. I honestly wish more novels had pretty pages like this. I also thought including each main characters mix tape was an especially creative touch, that when listened to, gives you a glimpse deeper into their personalities, which mere words simply cannot do.

As for the story itself, I was pretty hooked. The characters were interesting, unique, and were written with depth. The writing style was quite easy to read. The very short chapters gave us glimpses into the life of the main characters, without pretentiously going on and on, which I was very appreciative of. It was such a fast pace, I could've read this in two days if I would've had the time.

This is a m/m slow burn romance, focusing on friendship, mental illness and codependency, and consequences for one's actions. I will say I didn't care for the unhealthy relationship between the main characters, but then again, most teenagers don't actually know what a healthy relationship is. I was also very put off with the amount of parental neglect. However I did love their devotion to each other, which is equally rare. I would recommend this to anyone who likes any of the things mentioned above, however there are quite a few, if not too graphic sex scenes, so even though it is YA, I would put the reading age at 18+.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,792 followers
March 25, 2018

this book just made me really sad and idk how i feel
my heart hurts

3.5 stars!


Buddy read with a mango

apparently this book is amazing and ruins your life at the same time and well, that sounds good to me
Profile Image for Julie Zantopoulos.
Author 4 books2,239 followers
January 5, 2019
"It's not weird. It's just...unusual And even then, just because it's unusual doesn't automatically make it bad."

I don't know how to put into words how I feel about this book, all I know is that it spoke to me, connected with the darkest and most painful parts of me, and made me feel so damn much. It's not secret that I deal with depression and anxiety, that mental illness is a part of my reality. It's also not a secret that I have a degree in psychology and love anything that explores mental illness, the psychology of relationships (both healthy and unhealthy). As a writer, I adore authors who take unique approaches at crafting their stories (House of Leaves anyone?) so the way this story is told spoke to my creative side in a HUGE way. It certainly is well known that I love any book that makes me feel and this book had ALL of that.

"Where we are, it is light. ... From where I'm standing...it's warm enough."

This story follows August and Jack, lifelong friends from different social circles who depend on one another in a way that most friends do not, cannot comprehend. Both have been abandoned by their parents, Jack's to their careers and August's to her mental illness (The Great Sad). They are alone, not taught how to cope, how to love, or how to be kids. They're forced into roles that feel the most "safe" the most comfortable, and to fight to survive. They want to belong, they want to be loved, and the only people who provide that for them is one another and oh man...it's tragic and deep and raw, so raw.

The adults in this story, everyone who should show up for these boys let them down over and over again. They're left treading water, exhausted and uncared for, and nobody sees their heads slipping under the water as they gasp and scream for help. It's hard to read, it hurts to read, and for some like me, it feels too familiar. My family loves me, they're present, but depression can feel like that sometimes...like I'm in it alone. Anyway-it's not about me. These boys are doing their best while the world crumbles around them.

"My mom once told me that being alone makes you feel weaker every day, even if you're not. But it's not as bad if you're with other people who are alone, too. We can hold each other up like a card tower."

August and Jack aren't alone, not really. They have friends, they have girlfriends and partners, and there are people who care about them. Unfortunately, all those people are peers, unable to exact the kind of change and help that the two need. However, we are gifted with some great characters (can I get a novel about Peter and Roger, please!?). They're a pretty mature group of kids, they do what they can to help August as he declines in the wake of Jack's own decline...but in the end it's just not within their power to put an end to the trauma the two are facing.

"I think you're doing your best, but your best is not good enough sometimes. Sometimes...you have to stop trying and just let someone else try their best. In order to survive."

This is a story that gets dark, is dark, but it's also a story about friendship, and love, and hope. It's about different stages and kinds of mental illness and the people we push away and pull closer in our darkest moments. It's about the relationships we have and those we crave. It's about how we cope when we aren't taught how to deal with the cards we are dealt. This is a story about making the fucking most of things, about doing the best we can day in and day out and how sometimes that's just not good enough. This is a heartbreaking look at how things can snowball so quickly out of hand. The rabbit in a warming pot unaware it's being cooked until it's boiling even though it's been getting gradually hotter. It's amazing what you can ignore, what you'll accept and allow, if it means keeping those you care about close.

"Is anything 'just' anything? After all these months? Even dressed in my colors? Even with your favor at my feet? Even as the sky falls and the only thing I can hear besides your voice is the screams of the dying and the thundering of horses? You remembered to keep it when you couldn't even remember to eat. It's a lighter, yeah. But it's also everything..."

What is everything for me about this novel is the way it is presented to us. As a writer, I respect writers who take a bold approach to storytelling and this one was Michael Jackson crotch grab ballsy. I mean, it's unapologetically fierce and raw, it's meant to make you feel so freaking much and at the same time to keep you turning pages, anxious to know what comes next. The mixed media, the short chapters, the way the writing is to the point but poignant, each word a gift keeps you unwrapping them, devouring the story. It was delicious, it was dark, it was painful, it was beautiful, and all of it, the hurt and the joy was breathtaking. Her ability to weave this story so intricately in a way that engaged me the way it did it amazing. I can only hope to have someone tab one of my books the way I tabbed hers; reverently, tear-stained, and awe-filled.

"You're the most precious thing in the world to me. They're trying to make you forget that. Don't let them make you forget it."

I am fully aware that I'm going to catch so much shit for loving this book for one specific reason-the comparison to The Foxhole Court books. Hell, I made the same assessment/comparison the first day I read. Allow me to explain myself a bit. Jack and August have a very unhealthy codependent Dom/sub relationship that is dangerous at times and fucking precious at others. It mirrors, in some ways, the relationship that Neil and Andrew have in the All For the Game series. I want to clarify that I hated a whole hecking lot about that series and only some of it was the relationship they had. I didn't like the writing, the plot in general, the way mental health was addressed (or not), the way the characters responded to their trauma (yes, I know I don't get to dictate that but Nora could and I didn't like the way she managed the topic), and so many other aspects. So, outside of both books having two boys who had a codependent and Dom/sub relationship in it...there are no similarities for me. I adored Jack and August, K. Ancrum flat out did a better job than Nora Sacavik at making me feel for her characters and want them happy. So, my view of All For the Game Stands as does my love for The Wicker King. K? K.

"Jack had been waiting. He'd been trying. He was scared. There were tears in his eyes and it took August's breath away."

Trigger warnings in this book for abandonment, hunger and restrictive eating (or not eating), near-death experiences, arson, injury in a fire, mental illness and mental illness decline, and severe codependency.

"Do your best to be brave, but it's okay not to be. If you drop the weight you are carrying, it is okay. You can build yourself back up out of the pieces." - K. Ancrum

Lastly, I have to thank K. Ancrum for joining our buddy read group on facebook and answering all reader questions in staggering and well thought out detail. She added such richness to the reading experience even though I didn't let myself read any of her answers until I was done the story. If you want to know more about the story and her writing process, join Dragons and Tea Book Club and check it out. You will NOT be sorry you did.
Profile Image for Judith.
724 reviews2,615 followers
May 11, 2019

"How long have you been waiting for me?"

You know the prospect of starting a new book that you have absolutely no real clue what to expect?

This is one of those.Late last night I thought I'd just take a quick look .....and that was it.This book has never left my side all day.I just devoured it.

-it's memorizing,

-the writing,
-the way it's written,
-the characters....August especially.Beautiful August who completely stole my heart.

I simply adored it.
Profile Image for Nazanin.
1,072 reviews610 followers
May 24, 2019
4 Stars

Your best is not good enough sometimes…
Sometimes… you have to stop trying and just let someone else try their best. In order to survive.

Told in single POV, 3 rd person, it’s the first installment in "The Wicker King" series. It’s not really cliffy but it’s not HEA either! Maybe HFN?! That was one of my issues because, in the end, I wanted so so much more. That ending wasn’t enough for me. My other problem was I wanted Jack’s POV! I wanted to experience what he went through, I wanted to see what he was seeing through his own eyes! August's POV wasn’t enough for me, at some point, I doubted even Nonetheless, it was quite a unique read. It was my first read by this author and won’t be my last, it was so well-written with well-developed characters, contains very short chapters and an angsty read. Overall, loved it and hope you enjoy it as well!

Thanks, dear Lola for recommending this beauty!
Profile Image for Karima chermiti.
812 reviews154 followers
January 4, 2019
Dragons & Tea Book Club book of the month

Warning: This review contains spoilers, so if you haven't read the book but want to, you're better of not reading this review but I really think it's important to read the trigger warning just to know what you're getting yourself into

Trigger warning :

This book hurt me and I’m not saying that because it was so good and I loved it, No, It’s because this book revolves around something that I went through in my life and this book managed to rip open wounds that were healed. I wish I have never read it. This is the first time I’m putting such a request in my review, I guess this book has made me feel vulnerable, please don’t come at me telling me that I’m wrong and that I didn’t get it, what follows is my personal opinion and interpretation of the book and it’s as valid as yours or anyone else’s

As someone who lived through an extremely co-dependent relationship, Let me tell you a truth, it’s not romantic: it’s destructive, it’s damaging, it’s toxic and it’s unhealthy. It’s even pretty clear that the dynamic between Jack and August ( the book’s protagonists ) had really negative influence on both of them and I don’t hate them for what they went through, because as the author explains in her note, they’re both victims of their circumstances but at the same time, I wish that the author made some time to let us witness how they will change the unhealthy nature of their relationship into a healthy one. I mean Augusts’ doctor even tell him that she really believes he is worse now than he was when he started his therapy sessions.

I think what pains me is that August didn’t really get better through the book, he become worse and when I say worse I mean his co-dependency, possessiveness and his tendencies of self-harm has grown worse through the book and there is no evidence that he has become better, on the contrary, he is living in a relationship that’s affecting every aspect of his life in the worst way possible and yet he doesn’t want anything to change even though deep down he knows that it has to. His possessiveness of this relationship doesn’t only put him in danger but Jack too, his unwillingness to help his friend the right way cause he’s afraid he won’t be needed anymore could’ve led to his friend being seriously hurt or even worse.

I really don’t understand. Am I supposed to root for Jack and August romantically? Because I can’t in good conscience do that. I mean, I understand that both characters has a lot of hardship in their lives when it comes to family and being loved and taken care off but at the same time, Jack is sometimes abusive towards August, there were a lot of incidents when he grabs him or he yanks him and August says that it actually hurts him. Not to mention that August nearly died twice just to make it better for Jack. I really would’ve preferred them going on this journey of recovery on their own when they both realize how much help they need and how they both need healthy relationship for them to flourish. I would’ve been happy if they went through that in ways that are clear and deep and then learned how to be together after they discovered all that.

Bottom line is, the book ended without making me feeling that both characters are headed into healthy territory. The only development about their relationship is that August finally worked through his non-platonic feelings towards jack and they opened up to each other about that and they become together. But other than that, I feel that they’re still co-dependent, they’re still relying on each other to feel worthy of just living.

I’m really torn, on one hand; we have great representation of someone slowly discovering his sexuality and opening up about it. On the other hand, we have an unhealthy relationship that veers towards abuse and harm at times. Romanticizing unhealthy toxic relationship is a big NOPE for me.

I don’t know, maybe I’m missing something, maybe I read a different book. I just really didn’t realize how much this book hurt me, triggered me and made me stuck in pain until I finished it. This book made me feel miserable and I just need to forget about it which I will do, hopefully.

But you know what, I can ignore my personal feelings and I can look at the book from an objective point view and yet it is still not that good. The extremely short chapters make it impossible for me to get invested into the story. The writing style is more about telling than showing and the side characters are as flat as a piece of paper. The female characters only exist to be just a holding place for the male characters till they figure out what they really want and that bothered me a lot. So yeah, which way I look at it, I don’t really find anything outstanding about it.

Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,478 reviews19.2k followers
August 12, 2018
Stayed up until 1:30am to finish this last night and I think that was a mistake. What even happened????????? This book was very strange and I KNOW that this could very easily be a favorite for someone else, but I just could not wrap my head around the writing style. What an odd read.
Profile Image for Optimist ♰King's Wench♰.
1,765 reviews3,847 followers
April 2, 2019
I loved this so much. I read the whole thing in one day!

How the page colors slowly changed from white to gray to black along with the incorporation of the playlists and little trinkets from their story added to the tension. I don't know if that really comes through in the kindle edition but it has an impact and adds a layer of foreboding that I reveled in.

This is a coming of age story told from August's perspective of him and his best friend Jack who, because of the deficiencies of their parents, have forged a bond over the years that's unlike anything I can remember reading before. The neglect of their parents is not new in the YA or the romance genre but the connection that they have is what I found so moving.

August had wanted to roll over for him. Wanted to bare his neck. Wanted to give himself up, so ferocious was his gratitude. As Jack’s fingers trailed through his hair and as he wrapped his Pokémon sweatshirt around August’s shoulders, something in August broke. Or changed. He wasn’t sure. But he’d known then that he was important. He was valuable. He was Jack’s.

Is it healthy? Probably not. But it's theirs and I can appreciate the realism of that for two teens who for all intents and purposes have no one else they can rely on or trust implicitly.

The intensity of their connection, how unwaveringly loyal they are to one another and how the power differential shifts back and forth between them, depending on the needs of the other is what I found so spellbinding. They are both hot-headed at times and reckless at others but it reads authentic, just part of their dynamic that they accept about the other.

As the narrative evolves it becomes increasingly evident that something is amiss and as the chaos intensifies and surrounds them, they become an island unto themselves, clinging to the other, sometimes to their own detriment.

It was riveting reading, I tell ya.

The love is there all along but August doesn't know how to define it or maybe recognize it for what it is? He's fiercely protective of his best friend but he's also in the deep end and doesn't know what the best course of action is, so he does what he's always done. He only knows that he has to be there for Jack no matter what.

I wish it had been longer. I wanted more time with them but the ending is a happy one so I shouldn't complain but it could've been longer, so much longer. I'll definitely read something else by this author and I think I'll go ahead and buy a copy since I'm pretty sure the library would frown upon me keeping this one indefinitely.
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