I’m going to try to be spoiler free, but I don’t know how I’m going to do, and there will probably be vague spoilery things scattered throughout.  Read at your own risk.  The entire review is very vaguely spoilery with some more spoilery bits.  There is one very specific spoiler, but I marked it.  It’s probably best to go into this book not knowing too much, so even though there is more I could talk about, I’m not going to.  I don’t want to possibly ruin the reading experience for you.  

 

I’m sure you can tell from reading my other reviews that I don’t frequently give out five star ratings.  Many books are given two or three stars.  Four if I enjoyed them.  But not this book.  This book was so good.  I don’t want to say that I didn’t expect to like it, because I did expect to like it, but I definitely didn’t expect to like it as much as I did.  I’ve come pretty close to crying at some books this year, but this was the first book I’ve read all year that actually made me cry.  I didn’t cry a lot, but I cried a bit, and that counts.  

This book was weird, because there are some aspects of it that I’ve hated when they were in other books but loved here.  Like how, at the end of almost every chapter, it would end in a cliffhanger or literally just stop mid sentence.  I think there are some reviews on this blog where I complain about cliff hangers,  but here they worked.  I don’t even know how.  I was surprised that I wasn’t irritated.  I completely expected to find the cliffhangers and unfinished sentences irritating at some point, but I didn’t.  They worked for the entire story.  Somehow.  Honestly, I don’t even know how the author did that.  

This book did take awhile to read.  Obviously, since it’s a five-hundred-fifty-one page book, it’s not going to be something I can read in three hours.  But I figured that since it’s a young adult book, and I can normally read about fifty or sixty pages of a young adult book per hour, that I would be able to read this fairly quickly.  

That wasn’t the case.  

I didn’t keep track of how long it took to read this book, but it was probably about twice the amount of time I thought it would be.  It’s not a bad thing that it took so long to read, but it did throw off my reading/reviewing schedule a bit because I thought it would take a week to read, and it ended up taking much longer than that.  Like I said, this isn’t a bad thing, and this isn’t a complaint.  I’m used to being able to read books fairly quickly, and this one was not something that could be finished quickly, and, even though I don’t mind now, it was kind of irritating while reading.  

It could have just been me, but it felt like the second half of the book went faster than the first half.  It’s totally possible that it was all in my head because, for the first half of the book, I felt like I was going to be reading this book until I died, and it just felt better to know that I was half done with it.  I also started to dislike Emma at some point, but I stopped disliking her after I got more than halfway through the book.  I’m pretty sure that I only felt the way I did because I was feeling unproductive and like I wasn’t reading enough, and for some reason I took out that frustration by randomly disliking her.  

While I’m on the topic of Emma, around the middle of the book the chapters from her perspective got longer and, since I was in the middle of my Emma-hate, this irritated me.  I understand now that all of those chapters were setting stuff up for the end.  After having finished the book, I’m glad that there was so much detail put into all of the stuff in the middle; however, while I was reading it, I didn’t realize that this was all worldbuilding.  I thought that it was just random side-plot.  Even though I’m very happy with how it was done, at the time, it just made me moody.  

I think this might be a book that you have to completely finish before you decide if you like it or not.  My opinions of it went back and forth A LOT while reading this.  During the beginning I loved it, during the middle I got a little irritated, and then I started loving it again towards the end.  After I finished it, the bits in the middle that I didn’t like before started to make sense, and I stopped disliking them.  

The characters were interesting because all of the characters I expected to love, I didn’t, and all the characters I didn’t expect to love, I did.  I expected to really like Eric and like Casey slightly less (for whatever reason), but I actually really liked Casey.  Maybe I liked Casey more because Eric is more like me?  And it is so easy to pick apart the flaws of a character who is too much like me.    I don’t know.  I also prefered Tony and Rima over Emma, which ended in a lot of sadness for me, but I’m not going to go into detail about why because spoilers.  

Pretty much any expectation you have for this book will be wrong.  In a good way.  

One thing I didn’t like was that some characters would show up and then die very quickly after they came into the story.  I know that a lot of these characters were meant to be side characters, but still.  {Spoiler} Mainly this is me complaining about Tony.  He should have been a main character.  He deserved better.  I’m still bitter about this.  {End spoiler}

On a side note, kind of about that spoiler, I really liked the scenes from that part with all the gasoline on the ground when Tony, Rima, and Casey were all in the van together.  It was really well written, and, in my opinion, one of the creepiest parts of the book.  

The other complaint that I have is that I didn’t love the dialog.  For the most part, the dialog was fine.  Better than fine.  It was great.  I loved this book.  But I didn’t like how much stuttering the characters did.  I get that they’re scared, and stuttering is a way to show that they’re scared, but use it sparingly.  After a while it just got kind of awkward to read and it kind of took away from how serious the book was.  

I really liked the part with the black goo.  It reminded me of a thing I watched on TV when I was way too young to be watching that kind of horror.  In the show I watched,  there was some kind of black goo that would melt people, or, if I’m remembering correctly, make them murder people or themselves in horrible ways.  If I’m remembering correctly, the black goo wasn’t the main thing.  The bigger part of the plot was that people in a small town were killing themselves or other people in bizarre, disturbing ways, but it’s been a lot time since I’ve watched this, so I don’t remember everything perfectly.  The black goo is what I remember most, and it haunts my dreams to this day, so that part was much creepier than it would have been if I hadn’t watched this thing.  

The ending seemed to go by a little quickly.  Not in a bad way, and it was written well, but it just seemed to move kind of quickly.  I honestly don’t think that there could have been any other way to write it, and there couldn’t have been random bits of backstory while all of the stuff was happening at the end.  I did still like it, it’s just that there was so much more happening and it suddenly got kind of sad (this is where I cried).  

Even though I do have some complaints, I would still rate this book five out of five stars.  

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