My Rating: 3 stars
|This book has always been in my peripheral vision. I knew it was there but it never captured my attention long enough for me to pick it up and read it. Now that I have I can't decide if it was worth it or not. Part of me absolutely adored it, the characters, the concept, the plot, everything. But another part of me was put off by some of the content. The narrator though an interesting choice didn't really fit the story. I felt that Zhang dipped her little toe into the topic of mental illness but didn't really showcase it within the story.|
Lets talk Liz. The centre of this entire story, the glue holding it together, and yet, I don't even know who Liz is. Her character as a whole seemed slightly ridiculous. Zhang used Liz as a pathway into mental illness. But this limited how far she could take this because Liz was a weak character. I was sure there was more too her, but all we ever got were the broken edges of a girl who hid herself under a personality that wasn't her at all. We see the Liz who is haunted by her mistakes. But I think there could have been so much more to her character that really would have added to the story.
Then we go from Liz to Liam. This random boy who is in love with this charade of a girl who just ran her car off the edge of the road. I kind of liked Liam, he seemed like a nice kid and the contrast Zhang created between his character and Liz's was intriguing but I wanted more. I don't think the relationship between Liz and Liam was explored enough, the whole concept of it felt superficial and unreal.
Zhang introduced all these characters and their secret little worlds with all these things that tear them apart. But it felt like too much. You couldn't engage in the relationship between Liz, Kennie and Julia because there wasn't enough of it. You couldn't believe Liam was really hopelessly in-love with Liz because you barely get to see that infatuation. You couldn't connect to the sadness within Liz because of the weakness of her character her emotions were hard to connect to. Any of these things alone could have made a brilliant story. But none of them really got a chance to shine in this book.
I would have loved to read this story from Kennies point of view. I was drawn to her as a character, she had so much voice and passion just begging to be let out. The same issues could have been adressed but for me in a much more engaging way. The connection Liam and Kennie have could be played with, Kennie's inner pain could contrast with Liz and Julia. Kennie and Julia's hurt over what happens to Liz would be magnified.
Much like the rest of the story the choice of narrator didn't make sense to me. I mean it's beautiful, a childhood imaginary friend being left behind as Liz grows up. But that in itself is a story. You never really get to engage with the narrator or appreciate that concept when its only in the outskirts of the story. With this story the narrator took away from the quality of the book. The book and the narrator are two separate things that were forced together in an unnatural way. AT some points the narrator made the story confusing and hard to follow.
I was aching for more from this book but it just wasn't there. Oh the loss of so much potential. This book just went too many ways, there was far too much crammed into one short novel. Its not the best thing I've ever read, but its also not that bad. If I could go back I probably wouldn't bother with it, there are far too many books to read to waste time on mediocrity.
Shania Rose x