Thursday, August 13, 2015

Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy Than Not
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
Hardcover, 304 pages, Soho Teen
Genres: YA, LGBT, Contemporary

In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.

In the months after his father's suicide, it's been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again--but he's still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he's slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron's crew notices, and they're not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can't deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can't stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute's revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

My Review

Before I thoroughly dive into my review I have to explain that there will be two parts to this review. The first part will briefly go over the book itself and the second will go over my feelings. If you keep reading, you’ll understand more about why I’m trying to give you this clarification.

Aaron Soto is a normal kid living in a less-than-fantastic area. He’s got semi-decent friends and a messed up family, and recently he’s been feeling some feelings for Thomas, a new boy (notice the space) friend, despite having a girlfriend (notice the lack of space). That’s when he contemplates getting the Leteo procedure to erase all of his memories of dude-liking.

This book was a solid 3-star book at first. It had a decent plot, some interesting characters and a message that I loved. However, some of the writing was a little dry and the book was rather short for how complex it was. But, as a said, the message that LGBTQ people cannot just forget or dampen who they are is a great message that everyone needs to read about, because trying to make someone into something they’re not just hurts the person in the end.

Despite me believing this book is a 3-star book in regards to its story and writing, I only actually gave this book a 1-star rating. Why? Well, it’s kind of personal, so you may not truly understand why, but I’ll try my hardest to explain.

I haven’t been having the greatest of days lately. My best friend has been gone for the entire month of July and my roommates are getting on my last nerves. I’ve also managed to obtain an injury to my hip so I can’t even go running like I used to. Now I just walk to the gym and I’m in pain. (I’m doing stretches and stuff to work the pain out, but it’s a slow process.) I haven’t had a day off in a month and my job just kind of sucks sometimes. Some other minor things have happened to add to that crappy pile as well. Basically, I’ve just been kind of blah.

So, as I finished More Happy Than Not, I began to feel very strangely. Because Aaron was so depressed about who he was and his entire life, I too began questioning every aspect of my life and honestly, it made me feel miserable. I felt so down and terrible. I have never in my life felt depressed, but after reading this book, I can honestly say I never want to feel like that again. Thankfully, I got out of my funk by the next day, so all was well, but I go to books to read a happy story, or at least one that has some sort of silver lining, and to me, this book didn’t.

Writing this down makes me feel like I’m overreacting, especially since I can’t accurately convey how I felt now that it’s been a couple of days since I finished the book—I had to give myself some space—but I wanted others to be aware that this book is a sever downer for those who aren’t happy with their lives at the moment. If I can save one person from feeling as terrible as I did, then this review/spiel will have served its purpose.

Now, I don’t want to take away from Silvera’s book. It’s true that he’s got a fantastic message and a great cast of characters. This book just wasn’t what my emotional stability was looking for. Perhaps if I would have read it at a more happy time in my life I wouldn’t have had such a bad reaction to it? I guess I’ll never know…

All in all, if you are mentally prepared to read about a boy with deep secrets who has lived a life of pain and hardship, then I would encourage you to dive in and soak in the truth of Silvera’s words. Just take caution.

**Note: I borrowed a copy of this book from the library.

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