This book wouldn't have a plot if someone had cared to get Ellery a good grief-counselor and made sure she stuck with him/her until they were certain she was alright (The fact that someone as transparent as this girl managed to fool her therapist into thinking she was "fine" is beyond me).
It's been a while since I last read a book that tried so hard it gave me second-hand embarrassment so badly that I almost gave it two stars out of pity. The writing, the characters, the plot (which although not terribly original had the potential to go places and was the sole reason I picked this up), everyyything.
I got halfway through the book and I had over 80 notes on my kindle along the lines of "wtf is this" because I just couldn't believe some of the dialogue and scenes. At that point, I just gave up. I have other books I'm still reading and this book wasn't worth putting them aside just to give it more of a chance to get me to take it seriously. I skimmed through the rest because I kind of liked Colter's character (although what he saw in Ellery is beyond me) and wanted to see where that would go but... yeah.
This book is awful. The attempts at humor are lame, the "banter" isn't funny, the writing tries too hard with metaphors that sometimes make no sense, the MC's POV is cringe worthy. It feels like all her thoughts should have Evanescence's "My immortal" (great song, but you know what I mean) playing in the background. This isn't "Dark" or deep. The subject matter isn't even handled properly.
The author focused more on trying to get the reader to believe this girl
Every touch, sound, smell, feeling is a thousand times more intense to Ellery than it should. And I get that MAYBE the author was trying to show us how her grief had affected her entire life. But God, it was sloppily done, repetitive, and sometimes even kind of ridiculous.
"I slam my locker closed, distracted. It echoes, so I cover my ears, dropping my book on the ugly, blue-tiled hallway floor." (Good god, why don't you put your hand to your forehead and faint right there)
"The laughter bubbles up in me like a scream." (huh...)
"He reaches for my hand. Needles. It feels like needles are coming out of his fingers, piercing my skin." (it's just skin contact, calm down)
"The tones continue to crescendo into a thunderous wake, the room shaking underneath me." (this is a freaking choir she's describing)
"My steps on the cement echo in my head like I'm stepping on steel drums."(ugh)
"My stomach jerks with the loud music and my head spins at the miffled voices and bass jammed together" (it's a damn HS party, chill the hell out)
Sometimes though, her thoughts are just stupid and ridiculous and way too self-involved. (This is what I'm referring to when I say even the writing tries too hard.)
"He's always been a quiet guy, surly, kind of crusty around the edges, like burnt toast." (lmao, burnt toast)
"The way everyone looks at me like I'm an elephant in the middle of a glaggle of geese" (In this scene literally nobody is paying her any special attention, but there you go anyway)
"The phone crackles with his breathing. It sounds intimate, like something I shouldn't be able to hear" (now breathing is intimate)
"The ride is smooth, like we're riding on piles of money." (wuuut? hahaha)
Ellery's character is so ridiculous it gave me hard flashbacks of 2006, when the Emo culture was at its peak and people thought it was cool to get tattoos of music lyrics (this girl, btw, almost gets an entire song tattooed on her back). She is all the stereotypes of a super emotional, special snowflake, nobody gets me, I'm a tortured soul, surely nobody's ever felt the pain I have, the world would be better without me, oh btw I'm not your regular girly-girl, teen.
"She's dragged me to the mall. I know. I know. I'm a girl. I'm supposed to love the mall."
"The three slutketeers are not going to welcome me into their party." (Not even remotely funny)
"Most girls probably want to kiss guys."
"He's not my type at all. He's not rough around the edges. He's a goody-goody."
Lmao, that last one was particularly amusing because she says it as if every girl liked good guys and she's special because she wants somebody "rough around the edges" or whatever. AHAHAHAHA. Her head is so far up her special ass she doesn't realize her 'bad boy' type is literally a trope.
Look, I'm not trying to be a jerk to her character. I get it, she lost someone important, she felt guilty, she was sad. But man, she was a selfish, super dramatic jerk who kept thinking she was special and that nobody else could possibly imagine what she was going through.
Everything in her life is bleak. Everything sucks. Everything bad is her fault.
This girl, btw, has a best friend who absolutely adores her; a mom that tries her hardest to show her how much she loves her and worries about her; a cute guy who, against-all odds, somehow has taken an interest on her; and a new friend who is trying her damnedest to figure her out.
Like, she has people, she's not alone. But I get it, grief and guilt are bitches. And just because you have people who care doesn't mean your problems disappear and everything's good.
That still doesn't justify why she has to complain about everything and be a bitch to those closest to her. At one point she says she's sure her mom would rather have her dead than her sister. When her mom has done her utmost to show her love. That really pissed me off. She just tries to find ways to play the martyr.
"When my heart's mission is to stop beating, I can't let anything get in the way, not even Mom and her big words I never thought she'd use."
It also didn't help that the book was choke-full of all the hated tropes in YA that give this genre a bad rep and some more.
Girly girl shaming.
Good guy shaming.
Cute guy is always leaning against something, making him look extra cute. (rolls eyes)
Cute guy is somehow attracted to this girl who has been nothing but an ass to him. (because we're all masochists.. wait... this is kinda true. Huh.)
Cute guy has a relatable tragic past.
Still, don't try to understand the main character. Nobody can.
I'm too speshul and much of a tortured soul to be with anyone.
"I'm trying to figure you out but I can't."
Everything in the world is my fault.
I hurt myself because it's the only way I can feel. (Literally says this)
Cuts her head SOMEHOW on a headstone, curls up on the ground and sleeps next to a grave, so someone can find her and she can be all "Leave me alone, I'm fine."
I have a crush. These feelings are somehow unfamiliar to me. Could it be true love?
"Don't you fucking say her name!" (Don't-say-dead-loved-one's-name-out-loud trope)
Dad walked out on her family.
Can't get over daddy issues.
Googles dad so she can feel even more sad and cry herself to sleep.
"I'm not a fucking charity case."
"I can't lose you too."
Nothing anyone ever does for me is good enough.
The main character was ridiculously emotional, everything was a hyperbole, everything was sooo freaking extra it made me think back to le old days of Myspace. That's right. Myspace. Where people would take pics of themselves crying, mascara running down their cheeks, next to posts of "relatable & deep" lyrics or cringe worthy poems about how hard life is, how they're broken and nothing could fix them.
Ellery gets a a tatto with these lyrics.
"Now my bitter hands cradle broken glass of what was everything"
"All the love gone bad turned my world to black."
But no, seriously, the book tries so hard to be deep and dramatic and angsty, it's hard to take it seriously. And this is a serious subject.
It's not that she CONSTANTLY says/thinks stuff like:
"I try to ignore the empty feeling that descends on me."
"I want it to hurt. I want to feel the pain."
"The chill feels good. I deserve to be cold."
"The more pain the better."
"It's all my fault."
"I'm selfish and I deserve to die."
"The bridge loomed in the distance. Mocking me with its height" (*snorts* now bridges mock you)
But she also thinks of another classmate/friend who is struggling with the same issues as a kindred soul, a case study, maybe he can help her figure out a way to do this, at least somebody understands her, gasps, maybe they can go together, but oh, if he dares go before her. No. No.
Also, it doesn't tell you straight away what happens. It tiptoes around the subject with flashbacks. The MC keeps telling you it's all her fault, there was an accident, somebody died. Oh, where have I seen this before? We learn pretty fast who is dead, of course, but the actual accident is this thing that keeps coming to her in flashbacks so half-assed they didn't cause any sympathy from me. It was also, of course, not really her fault but yet she acts as if she had actually taken a knife to her sister.
I've read YA books that deal with suicide, bullying, rape and other hard subjects in a way that makes you actually feel for the character without the need of repetitive and overly dramatic scenes.
Want some personal recs off the top of my head?
[b:I Swear|10798394|I Swear|Lane Davis|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1346677164s/10798394.jpg|15711097] by Lane Davis
[b:Thirteen Reasons Why|29844228|Thirteen Reasons Why|Jay Asher|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1462990678s/29844228.jpg|2588213] by Jay Asher
[b:Some Girls Are|6624871|Some Girls Are|Courtney Summers|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1317791700s/6624871.jpg|6819111] or any other book by Courtney Summers (she's an amazing YA author, her books deal with hard topics and she's actually able to pull off humor quite easily)
[b:By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead|6609549|By the Time You Read This, I'll Be Dead|Julie Anne Peters|https://images.gr-assets.com/books/1433120290s/6609549.jpg|6803515] by Julie Anne Peters (Basically the MOSTLY THE SAME plot... but you know, better executed.)
Just... Honestly, don't waste your time unless you love a good trope fest and a super annoying main character.