Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his)'s Reviews > All the Ugly and Wonderful Things

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood
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really liked it
bookshelves: from-publisher-or-author, arc

First off, shout out to my fellow Kansan! Bryn Greenwood, you live in my neighborhood. (Not really, just that I live really close to Lawrence.) There needs to be more Kansan writers, because... damn, you can write.

I have no clue what to say about this book. Hell, I don't even know what to rate it. Because, there were some parts that I loved. There were some parts that I could have cared less about. But, the whole book, I had a weird knot around my sternum, just a bundle full of emotions that is still unresolved and I know this book is going to stick with me for a long time. In a good way. This is one of the times where I am so glad that I got an ARC, just because I don't have to wait like everyone else. Especially when everyone is giving it rave reviews that really are deserved.

A lot of people are going to compare this to Lolita. The whole "ambiguity" there, but it's not ambiguous what happens in that book. Here, it is. I would say this is more like Forbidden. I read it ages ago, but it changed my opinions on a certain controversial topic. And, not to turn myself against it. But to become in favor of it, which is definitely against the popular opinion most have.

Subjectively, I want to give this book five stars. I felt for the characters, I got drawn into the little drama that felt so real, I rooted for Wavy and Kellen. I called characters bitches, which I rarely do while I'm reading. This little book sucked me in and held me, something that more authors need to take a note how to do because it's pretty rare that I get that way even if I rate a book four or five stars. Things take my attention away. I literally shut down everything and just read this afternoon.

Objectively, though, it's not perfect. More like a three star book than a five star one. There were way too many POV in this book, which for about half the book made it hard for me to get into it. I couldn't even tell you the relationship Wavy had to all these people, but they were in there and giving their opinions. I wouldn't have minded it if it was a few, but it was an ever expanding list of people looking in on Wavy and Kellen's relationship. Then, it was so slow for half of the book. There was so much time setting the scene of the major drama, which happens (if I remember correctly) somewhere between 50-60% through the book. That's a lot of scene setting, and I remember wondering to myself if it was ever going to pick up. It did, of course, and that's when it gripped me tightly and raised me from possible boredom.

So, I'm going to compromise. Four stars. It wasn't perfect, but boy does it make you think and feel when you get really into the gritty, controversial stuff. I'm -- for once in my damned life -- not going to put in my opinion on this. But, I will say this: It will make you think about consent and the age of consent. It will make you uncomfortable. It will make you wonder what's wrong with you and what's wrong with the characters in the book.
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Reading Progress

May 9, 2016 – Shelved
May 9, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
July 16, 2016 – Started Reading
July 16, 2016 – Shelved as: from-publisher-or-author
July 17, 2016 –
13.0% "I'm going to like this book."
July 23, 2016 –
49.0% "This is really slow."
July 23, 2016 –
58.0% "I'm getting to the real controversial parts now."
July 23, 2016 –
69.0% "There are too many POVs in this book. It keeps me distant from the story."
July 23, 2016 –
74.0% "God also didn't want you to "pollute yourself." Touching yourself for pleasure wasn't what God designed your temple for, according to Charlotte. Either God was stupid or Charlotte was confused, because my temple was clearly designed for that.\n \n That's the first time I laughed during this whole book."
July 23, 2016 – Finished Reading
July 19, 2018 – Shelved as: arc

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Thomas Great review, Caidyn! So excited to read this one after all the attention it's been getting. I loved Forbidden and felt that it was such a necessary book; I am so grateful when books challenge us to think more deeply about societally-ingrained conventions that may be more arbitrary than we realize. I've thought a lot about the age of consent, why it is the age it is, the logical fallacies that are so common when discussing consent, etc. so I am pumped to get to this one. Glad you enjoyed it (and that the author is close by to you!)


Caidyn (SEMI-HIATUS; BW Reviews; he/him/his) Thank you, Thomas!

Yes, Forbidden was a great book from what I remember of it. I have it pretty high on my mental re-read list, because it was one of those books where I got it just to piss of a parent and wound up really deeply thinking.

Oh, I think about the age of consent a lot as well because of my interest in Tudor history. 12 for girls, 14 for boys. (I'm pretty sure I remembered that correctly.) And, all I can say about the age of consent, is that it really depends on the maturity of the person, not their age. While I do admit that I got a bit creeped out while reading this in certain areas, I also had to take a step back and consider why that was. Some of the best books do that.


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