Today I'm reviewing a very interesting book which has left me VERY conflicted!
This is the pretty blurb.
"On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.
Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher."
This book has been discussed by Mara and myself briefly, but it went very serious. With all these conflicting feelings, I feel like it would be best to finally review it :)
*Be warned; this review will contain spoilers...although there aren't TOO many crazy plot-twisted spoilers to spoil, but unless you don't want to read the book first then proceed ahead at full speed!*
Now, I never have before experienced what I have with this book. At first, after finishing this book, I experienced extreme desire to set fire to this book, or the complete opposite of disposing it into a salvos bag and giving it to a charity store (But I can't do that because it's Mara's and the things she lends me are precious and I would never do any damage to it ever *love you mara*) If you ask Mara, she would not even be able to describe even 5% of the pure, extremely violent, and manic desire I had to review this book to the garbage disposal company. I did not like, I despised it even, and then at times I felt complete apathy for it. I didn't even care to give it a review, or to give what stars I thought out of 10 it was, or what my favourite quote was in there. I just did not like it at all... and even told Mara that it might be a 2 or 3 out of 10 for me. This led to me telling Mara everything I thought about it, her giving her opinion on it, and us having a discussion on it where I was just a dog frothing at the mouth with a chew-toy in my mouth, because darn it...I can't be tamed!
But then I started to think about the book more throughout the day, then the week...then it hit me how well written it was. Then it hit me...I was being a giant tool-bag. Yes. A tool-bag.
This book is about a group of girls, quite like the girls you'd imagine in Mean Girls *Gah I love that movie so!*
There's Liz Emerson, the Queen Bee of the group whose sheer influence causes others to make bad choices, and inevitably ruin their lives dramatically. Then there's Julia, the friend who (I was pretty sure) was close to being in lesbians with Liz Emerson. And Kennie, poor poor Kennie. She is like the scape goat of the trio, the one who is following behind the other two and follows their every action (If you can sort of imagine the Peter Pettigrew towards Sirius Black, James Potter, and Remus Lupin type of thing)
The story follows these three girls, and let's face it, these are three girls we've all known in our life. The top-dogs, the one that everyone thinks is beautiful, rich, and that they have it all.
It's a genre that goes along with Thirteen Reasons Why and If I Stay, where it focuses on the so called, 'Teen Life' that everyone goes through and mainly focuses on suicide, but contains more tragic topics like abortion, teen pregnancy, rape, bullying, substance abuse, and everything else that somehow teens face every day. Now, maybe it's just me and the fact that I was homeschooled and managed to avoid a large quantity of this sort of drama, but it didn't hit me with that same impact that it may have hit others who have read it and have gone to a public school. I only got snippets of this sort of stuff through friends that I had growing up, but I never participated in it. I saw friends choose to abuse different substances, I saw them pretty much hand their virtue to everyone around them like it was a tasting buffet, and I saw bullying to extremes...but I never partook or participated.
Maybe that's why I have a hard time sympathising or having empathy for Liz Emerson. Maybe that's why initially I was so aggressive and wished bad upon Liz Emerson. I'm not trying to toot my own horn or anything like that, but from a young age I've always had a conscience too high for its own good. When I saw people being bullied, I'd go and sit with them and spend time with them, because I knew what it was like to be bullied and outcasted. This is why I felt a very strong connection to Liam's character in Falling Into Place. He was bullied, tried to be nice to others, and just generally tried to stay out of all that teenage angst and drama. He was my favourite character in the whole book, and all I wanted to do was hug him and smoosh his face with cuddles.
And then that's when I realised that Amy Zhang was an amazing writer. Like a little puppet, I was dragged along into a story so realistic that it probably brought something carnal and dark inside of me that has crept into the dark recesses of my mind. It's easy to hate and have no sympathy for these three girls because we've all met them at some point in our life. We've all hated them, wished ill on them, and wonder how they live with themselves.
But this book is about humanity. It's about the fact that humans are humans, and that we make mistakes. This life is one massive trial and error way of learning, and unfortunately, you get those people who just continue to make bad decisions and let that become them. What I personally got away from this book was that the labels we put on other people, and even ourselves, don't mean a thing. Emos, Gays, Populars, Preppy, whatever the tag is...they don't mean anything about a person. A living human being.
That's when Liz Emerson became more human to me, once I saw how Liam saw her. It was like taking off the mask of all the people who have bullied me in my life, or who I did not like because of a label on them that they seemed eager enough to fulfil, and seeing that they are in fact just like me. Fears, deep resentments, uncertainty, doubts. They wake up the same way that I do, and then go to sleep the same way that I do.
While I did not specifically get FEELS from this book, it did make me take a second glance at the way that I'm living and perceiving other people as. It's like that moment of clarity that just kind of makes you realise how much of a big fat jerk you are.
On the other hand, this book is not a master piece in my eyes. It's one of those novels that affect you, but not for the way that the Author intended to. I thought that only Liam was very well-written, and that the way that Amy Zhang writes is a lot like poetry, or at least has this melody with it that makes it run fluidly.
I quite liked the fact that the Narrator was her imaginary friend, even though I guessed it pretty much before I reached halfway through the book. It was very different, and I haven't personally seen that in any other novels I've read.
I was also not very impressed by the complete melodramatic tone of the book. Granted, these topics are very serious and something to BE melodramatic about...but I think I've read enough books that have that, 'Oh life is so poetical and hard and being truly sad is the real beautiful pain of life' I'm over it. K? Over it. Life is hard, everyone's life is hard.
I like the book because I connected to Liz Emerson in her desire to a simple end...but then again, I don't like the book because of the sheer angst.
I just don't know anymore.
This book is bad and good at the same time, and I'm finding it very difficult to review it. While I want to tear out the pages with my bare teeth...I also want to coddle it and stroke it and say, 'My precciiooouuus' to it...
*Sigh* life is hard. If only I had a mercedes..
In conclusion, I'd rate this book an exact 5...because while I don't hate it, I don't love it either. I'm completely neutral to it...
AGGH BOOKS AND MY EMOOOTIONS.
“She wished to be happy, and fell asleep with an entire sky above her.”
― Amy Zhang, Falling into Place