Monday, November 16, 2015

More Happy Than Not

by Adam Silvera

Time was, I couldn't get enough young adult fiction. As a kid, I skipped from Encyclopedia Brown right to Stephen King, so maybe I was making up for lost time. (Okay, I did sneak-read my sister's Sweet Valley High books.) But what happened? Too much dystopia, too many vampires, too many covers with pictures of white girls. Also, I got burned by a few gay teen novels that weren't very good. I'm much more selective now in my forays into YA.

This book is part of a genre that I suppose could be called "new dystopia" or "dystopia lite," in which the world, instead of being radically changed or post-apocalyptic, seems more or less the same as now — except for that one thing. (A convenient, efficient, and probably sometimes lazy way to explore a particular aspect of society and the human condition.) The reviews were good, and it has a gay theme, and points for diversity. I figured I'd give it a try.

Reviews mentioned the twist ending, which kind of ruined it for me, since it wasn't that hard to guess. Maybe it would have been more effectively twisty if I hadn't been expecting it. Overall, I give it a "meh," but I can see why it got positive reviews, and I do think teens would like it. The urban and low-income setting is convincingly rendered, and the main characters are mostly believable. Struggling to come to terms with one's sexual identity is rich territory for teen fiction. The story is somewhat sad and not completely resolved at the end.


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