Posted by Jaime G. at 8:00 PM
Release Date: August 21st, 2012
Format: ARC Copy
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I just could not get into this book. I had pretty high expectations and expected to at least enjoy Oates's writing style, if nothing else. However, that was not the case. The writing was choppy and all over the place, the characters were melodramatic and frankly just unlikable, and the plot line was ridiculously unrealistic.
The book was split into three parts, each revolving around a different character. The first section is about Merissa, a young girl who is deemed "The Perfect One", but does not feel quite so perfect. After the suicide of her friend Tink, a punk rocker type of girl who was inevitably the ring leader of the friend group, Merissa decides to start cutting herself because she finds that more unique than developing an eating disorder. However, at the end of her section she miraculously stops cutting herself with no warning or explanation whatsoever. The second section is told from a 3rd person point of view - I had originally thought it was from Merissa's point of view, but now I am not so certain - about Tink's life before her suicide. The third section is about Nadia, another friend of Tink's whom the entire school calls a slut; she also thinks she is fat at 119 pounds and she develops an unhealthy crush on her teacher that gets her into a whole load of trouble.
To me, these characters were completely unrealistic. I understand that Merissa is upset about everyone thinking that she is so perfect, but is that really a reason to cut herself? And if it is, cutting is a serious problem. How would she just suddenly just wake up one morning and decide not to do it anymore? Nadia, on the other hand, falls in love with her teacher after he comforts her in a completely normal, teacher-like way with a sort of remote compassion. It just seemed completely unreasonable for her to think her teacher loved her because of that, but I suppose Oates was pointing out how Nadia's unrealistic actions were a coping mechanism for Tink's death. Both girls contemplate suicide, but each see and speak with their dead friend Tink, who convinces them that suicide is not the answer. It is unclear whether Oates was saying that the girls were merely imagining their friend in their times of need, or if Tink was actually there talking to them.
Overall, this book was not for me. I don't think YA is a great genre for Oates, who seemed unable to make realistic high school characters. It was a relatively quick read, however, and if you still think you want to give this book a shot, the best thing I can say is that, while somewhat ridiculous, the plot still had moments of high drama that some people might find exciting.