I expected BIG THINGS from this book because it’s written in lists. I love lists! I ADORE LISTS. I write lists all the time and blog nearly completely in lists. So I was kind of disappointed when, apart from the list-thing, this book was devoid of plot and mildly boring.
But I shall bestow upon you a full review — IN LIST FORM OBVIOUSLY — so I can explain all the things.
(I also need to take a moment to point your face at the above photo. I took that outside. HOW DID I GET THE BACKGROUND SO BLACK?! Wizardry. I’d congratulate myself on my epic skills except I don’t know what I did. [I mean, it had a bit of editing, but that’s pretty much how it turned out.] So yes. #epicmoment)
2. There are two kinds of lists: useful lists that move the plot along, and completely pointless lists. There is a list of the members of Darren’s high-school band, yippee, who we don’t know and don’t meet and pretty much don’t care about. WHY IS THIS SO?
3. Because of #2, the book was seriously long and dragged. It’s like 630-pages! But it’s also a super fast and easy to read because if there’s a tiny list, it still gets a whole page. But still…too. much. needless. information.
4. Darren? What can I say about Darren. He was like Mister Plain and Average. He reminded me of Greg from Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. Like, A LOT. They’re both boring, plain, not good with words, describes themselves as chubby, not good with girls, have dull names, and 98% awkward and 2% relatable.
5. So basically I didn’t CARE about Darren. I guess he was an “average teenage boy”? But I’m allergic to those. Books depict the “average teenage boy” as a) chauvanistic, b) a jerk, c) having no goals or aims in life, d) and no hobbies/interests, and e) seriously all these creatures do is think abasing thoughts about girls and sleep/eats/school.
6. How can you not have a hobby/interests?! I mean, like, really. What does one do with their grey matter without hobbies or interests?!
7. Also, we can’t forget that Darren has a HUGE HANG UP over his dad. His parents divorced and his dad has a secret. It’s technically a spoiler, so I won’t say (or put spoiler tags so KEEP CALM you don’t have to resist temptation). But I do think, despite the dad’s secret/lies, that he was a really nice dad and tried his best to love his son and show how supportive he was. Darren basically slapped all kindess back in his dad’s face for 600+ pages. Reason #53902 I don’t like Darren.
8. Darren was really rude. To his parents…to his friends… everyone. Not in an aggressive way — it’s passive rudeness. They talk and he grunts and gets out of there. (He’s super immature. But then, he is only 15.) But his dad was SO NICE and Darren was SO RUDE and his mum was SUCH A JERK and his brother Nate was SUCH A LOSER that I…can’t. It’s hard when I can’t root for even one character in the book.
9. Also the romance was odd. Darren meets Zoey. Darren loves Zoey. Even though Zoey barley says 10 words to him. Zoe disappears. So Darren meets another girl. Gets invested in other girl’s life. Does everything with other girl. Delves into boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. But is not emotionally attached because: ZOEY (whom, remember, he doesn’t know at all, actually). Basically he uses the other girl just for pleasure and it. is. so. wrong. HE LEADS HER ON.
10. Gee I’m being negative, so positives?! I really liked the format of lists, (OBVIOUSLY) and was surprised it was in 3rd person. I feel like it’d be more personal in 1st? But I still enjoy 3rd person a lot and did like the writing. You peoples must read this book for the highly unique list-factor. It’s done SO WELL.
11. The writing is really very good. Trust me, good writing is a HUGE WIN.
12. Which makes up for the complete lack of plot.
13. Like nothing happens most of the book. Except for conversations and emotional turmoil. It’s very very focused on the fact that his parents have divorced and how he’s dealing with it (by not dealing with it). And maybe the reason I couldn’t connect or care for Darren at all is that I have experienced nothing that he has. Usually I can connect on some level to a character. (Sure I’ve never fought to death in an arena like Katniss Everdeen, but I have a little sister. And I’m not dying of cancer like Hazel and Gus, but I’m a bookworm.) There was nothing between Darren and I. Sorry, but we’re breaking up.
14. I also wished there’d been more explanation. Sure we know the members of the high school band that never ever get mentioned EVER AGAIN…buuuut…I don’t know why Darren’s vegetarian? I don’t know who/what/why his friend is? (Occasionally referred to as “Bugs” but who and why and what? HUH?) It’s just never explained. And I don’t know why Darren is a loner, apart from being bad at communication. Is he bullied? Has he had a bad experience? I wish I knew more of Darren’s backstory.
15. So basically I loved the execution of the story but not the plot.
16. But it’s happily fraught with teenage angst and tension! SO THAT’S GOOD. If you’re a contemporary junkie and like lists then this is definitely a need-read.
Thanks to Simon & Schuster AU for the review-copy! Me Being Me Which Is Exactly Insane As You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy hit shelves in April, 2015.
Darren hasn’t had an easy year.
There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.
Then one Thursday morning Darren’s dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.
Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy’s debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.
so do i have unrealistic expectations when reading books via teenage boys?! let me know your thoughts! i was in love Finch from All The Bright Places and Gus from TFIOS…but not Darren?! also what do you think of lists? love ’em? ADMIT IT, YOU LOVE ‘EM. are you going to read this book? (i say: yes! do it!)