Pub Date: March 11, 2014 from Random House Children's (Delacorte Press)
ARC received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Dannie says: *We* really, really liked it.
We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.
Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.
So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.
WHAT I LIKED
The premise. I think it's current (with all the vaccine paranoia on the news etc) and a unique twist on the "I can hear what people think" trope. I love magical realism in general, and this is a nice twist. It's a like not a love for me though because I do feel like there is a lot of paranoia about vaccines and I felt like this might feed into that since it's never really confronted as a story element.
The characters--it's really hard to pin point one in particular that stood out from the bunch, though, making them a like rather than a love. Because we are getting so many different characters' perspectives, there wasn't really enough time to invest in any of them completely. The possible exception to that might be Cooper, who I really wanted to love, and who kept surprising me. But I didn't get to spend enough time with him to fall completely in love.
WHAT I LOVED
The narrative voice. It took me a while to get used to first person plural POV, but once I did, it was less of a distraction from the story than I expected it to be. Because that was a pleasant surprise and because it was so, so well done, it was a definite love for me. Probably my favorite part of the read.
The story structure and pace. I had some other competing projects during this read, so it isn't one I finished in under a day, but I did feel that the pace was strong and that the story for the most part moved forward at a good clip. I also felt that the story itself had enough twists and turns to keep the reader guessing and engaged, and I felt the overall story arc was well structured.
The character of "we". This is something I hadn't seen done before in contemporary YA and I felt like it was done exceptionally well. I was completely bought in, which isn't always the case with magical realism for me. With this novel I was able to completely suspend my disbelief and dive into the story. Such a fun read.
WHAT I WANTED MORE OF
Trivial point first: The cover--meh. If I saw this in B&N it would not have grabbed my attention. But more than that, after reading, I'm not exactly sure who these girls are. They don't seem to coincide with the girls I felt stood out the most in the story, and they ignore the character who did, Cooper (a guy.) I felt underwhelmed by the cover. Trivial, I know, but it irked me.
Denouement. I felt like the story wrapped up too quickly post climactic arc. It felt as if it was left open for a sequel, but in this case I didn't feel like there was enough story to justify part two. What she has here is great, I just wanted more resolution.
More realistic and multifaceted adult characters. Some of the funniest moments for me were when "we" were overhearing the thoughts of the adults in the story. However, I was disappointed how superficial that aspect remained. I wanted there to be at least one adult character who surprised the teens in a good way--whether that be through their caring for the teen characters, their insightfulness, etc. And I felt like we never really got that. Granted, this is me reading the book as an adult reader, so the intended audience might not feel the same way. But I felt like there was a missed opportunity for a teachable moment there.
Short story long, while this isn't one I'd pick up and re-read over and over again, it was a fun read the first time around. If you're looking for a twisty YA Contemp with quirky voice and interesting resolution, check this one out. Buy links are below!