I finished “18 Things” by Jamie Ayres a while ago, and decided to let it sit a simmer before I wrote a review. I considered not writing a review at all, because I’m not sure how to give this book, and the brilliant author, the justice she deserves. The fact is, I really didn’t like this book at all, but I’m still going to give it four stars. Let me explain.
This book grips you from the very first page and thrusts you into a nearly unending roller coaster of emotion. The story is about a girl who witnesses a tragic accident that takes her best friend and secret love’s life. (That’s not a spoiler – it happens in the first few pages.) From there on out, the book is about dealing with loss—overcoming this loss by creating a “bucket list” of 18 things to do.
Crud! Just writing that brought tears to my eyes again!
This is the thing. I read for enjoyment – to escape everyday life. This book is NOT THAT. I cried pretty much from the first page to the last page with a very brief tear-free intermission in the middle. Let me tell you – I have enough problems…I don’t need to be depressed while I’m reading, too!
Disclaimer – I sent this review to the author before I posted it… and she was surprised that I cried so much. She felt the “middle” was fun and light. I did feel the “intermission” but it was short lived for me. (Sorry)
But see, here’s the problem. I wouldn’t give a book a low rating because it was written so well it made me cry. I think it had exactly the emotional response that the author wanted. I couldn’t even deduct a star for lack of explosions, because there was one in the first few pages (well, kind of anyway)
So, why four stars instead of five?
For one thing… this is supposed to be a YA paranormal. I’d forgotten the genre while I was reading, because nothing paranormal happens. I understand why it was placed in the paranormal category (Can’t explain or I’ll spoil it), but this IS NOT a paranormal. If you only enjoy paranormal, you will probably cry through this and be frustrated – but I think that is a category error, not the author’s fault. So I’m not subtracting a star for that – I just thought I’d mention it.
All that aside — Here’s the reason for four stars…
As the novel was winding down, I started to feel safe again. Everything came together nicely. I was readying myself to give it five stars, but at the same time explaining that I didn’t enjoy reading it.
We hit the last chapter.
Did you hear that annoying sound? It was me grinding my teeth.
I’m one for a great surprise in an ending. Totally love a twist – in most cases. This one, however, kind of bothered me. To be completely honest, I felt cheated. Does that make it not brilliant?
No. It was brilliant.
It just made me a tad miffed. No… I had it right the first time. I felt cheated. I also started crying my eyes out again.
My husband kept feeding me tissues and told me to stop reading. I said “No! I need to finish this so I can stop crying!”
So I am subtracting a star for the ending, although I realize it was needed to set up the possibility for a sequel. To me though, it felt added on to make room for the next book. I’d have given 18 Things five stars without the last chapter.
So, this is the scoop: This book is a brilliant piece of contemporary fiction about dealing with death and learning to live your life again. While there is a slight paranormal edge that you might miss if you blink, this is NOT a paranormal novel.
Readers of contemporary YA will probably love this. I, unfortunately, cried myself silly though the whole thing.