Here is my spoilery review! I say the same things in this review, but I go into a lot more detail.
So that happened. I have a lot of weird feelings about this book, but I can’t find a name for any of them. I kind of feel similar to how I felt after reading Rooms by Lauren Oliver. But there was no gore in that one, and there was in this one, so there might be a little more general discomfort after reading this.
I’ve had this book ever since it came out. Every couple months for the past two years I’ve looked at it sitting on my shelf, sad and unread, and I’ll say that I’ll read it soon. And I did try to pick it up a few times. Probably every six months or so, I would try to read it again, but it never really grabbed me. Every time I’ve tried to read it, I haven’t gotten more than fifty pages into it. Sometimes not even that. The last time I tried to read it I got four pages in before I stopped. I’m not even exaggerating. The bookmark was still there.
This year I’ve been trying to read more, so I thought that maybe this would be the year I finally read it. It’s been two years. The time has come to actually finish it. So I did.
This book has none of the qualities of a page turner. Whenever I would put it down, I wouldn’t really feel any need to pick it up again. Generally, I don’t like when there are cliffhangers at the end of chapters that are there just to make you keep reading, but honestly maybe that would have been a good thing in this book. The last line of each chapter seemed almost final, which didn’t help the fact that I already didn’t feel much motivation to finish this. I was curious, but I could have easily put the book down for a long period of time and not really missed it. Obviously not every book is going to be a page turner that you want to read in one sitting, but I want whatever I read to make me want to read more. This didn’t do that.
At the end of the first part of the book, I started wondering if the people in the detention center were actually dead and stuck in some kind of time loop, but they just didn’t realize it yet. But then I thought that that was too predictable, and it obviously couldn’t be that. Even when I read Violet’s part, and she said that Orianna was dead I thought that it meant figuratively dead. Like Orianna is dead to Violet, but not literally dead. It could just mean that Violet wants to pretend that Orianna is dead or something. You know what I mean. It turns out that they do mean literally dead.
Even though people not realizing they’re dead is kind of overdone in my opinion (this was even the theme for one of my short stories when I was much younger), I understand where it came into the plot here, and I see why it had to be the way it was. That said, I would have been much happier with it if I hadn’t realized they were dead before it was said. Why not make it seem like Violet means dead figuratively instead of literally so that it’s a surprise when half-way through the book you realize it is literal? I would have prefered that. I don’t want to be able to see the plot twists before they happen. They aren’t plot twists if you can see them coming. Even in the end, before Violet died, I was pretty sure she was going to die. But, again, I thought that I was probably wrong. And again I ended up being right.
There are some books in which trying to figure out what happened and who did what before it’s said in the book is part of what makes the book enjoyable. I don’t think this is one of those books. Maybe it was supposed to be and I entirely missed it? Or maybe the author went a little overboard on the foreshadowing? I don’t know. Plot twists are great and all, but they are best handled by masters who can lead you down a merry path and then completely blindside you with an unexpected plot twist.
I didn’t feel particularly connected to any of the main characters. I was upset in the end when Orianna died-I actually almost cried at that point-but that was the only character I connected to. I don’t even know if it was a connection. It could have just been more like I don’t want her to die. She didn’t deserve that. I didn’t relate to any of the characters, and they were not written in a way that I could still connect to them even when I didn’t relate.
This book was very sad. I guess I should have expected it from the beginning, but I didn’t. I was surprised by how sad it ended up being. The fact that everyone in the detention center dies at the end is no secret, but I didn’t expect it to be the way it was. It was kind of vague and weird. There was a lot about stirring the peas (which were obviously poisoned but that’s peas for you), and then suddenly everyone was dead. Like I said before, I wasn’t incredibly attached to any of the characters, but the way it was written was disturbing. One of the girls fell off her chair and hit her head. It describes exactly how her skull is cracked open and how she’s bleeding. When Violet dies, it describes the gash on the back of her head as “soft” and “gooey” which, in my opinion, just seems like too much.
I think I said before in a review that I’m indifferent to gore. Normally, if it’s just small amounts of gore, and there’s no violence towards animals, I can handle it, no problem. But this book was different. The descriptions in this book weren’t too terribly graphic, but I was still uncomfortable. This book was disturbing. The way the gore was written made my skin crawl. There was more gore than just what I mentioned, and it was just as horrible as the rest, but I’ve tried to forget that.
This book also made me feel anxious. I read about a hundred pages of it in a sitting, and then I had to put it down. It’s possible that this was something else, but, since I felt really stressed right after reading it, I think at least part of it was the book. I do want my books to make me feel things, but not these things. If you have anxiety, I would not recommend this book.
It’s possible that I would have liked this book more if I didn’t read it right after reading Paper Valentine. I loved Paper Valentine, and this just can’t compare to it. I wanted to make sure that I didn’t get into a reading slump, which I do sometimes after reading something I really loved, so I picked this book up the same night I finished Paper Valentine. That might have been a mistake. I, at least, should have waited a day before picking this up. I just really didn’t want to get into a reading slump because, the last time I did, I barely read for six months.
There are a few things I did like about the book.
In the chapters from Amber’s perspective, the title of the chapter would be the first couple words in the chapter. In Violet’s chapters, the title of the chapter would be the last couple words from the chapter. I don’t know why, but I thought that was cool.
I also really like the cover. I know I shouldn’t judge it by the cover, but come on-just look at it, it’s beautiful. If you haven’t seen it, look it up. Do it.
My final rating is two and a half out of five stars. I wanted to like it, but I just found it lacking. However, if you liked Rooms, you’ll probably like this.