the beginning of everything by robyn schneider
Description: Stand-alone YA contemporary
Publishing Information: HarperCollins Publishers, 7/29/14
First Line: Sometimes I think that everyone has a tragedy waiting for them, that the people buying milk in their pajamas or picking their noses at stoplights could be only moments away from disaster.
THE FUNNY THING ABOUT GOLD IS HOW QUICKLY IT CAN TARNISH.
Ezra Faulkner had everything going for him. He was entering his senior year as the boyfriend of the most popular girl in school, captain of the varsity tennis team, shoe-in for homecoming king… and then everything changed. It all started when he walked in on his girlfriend cheating on him and his leg was shattered in a car accident. Suddenly, Ezra loses everything.
Then, Ezra meets Cassidy Thorpe – the new girl. Not only is she new, but she’s known: known for her amazing talent at debate competitions and known for disappearing unexpectedly, often leaving behind a broken heart or two. The old Ezra would’ve mocked her. The new one falls in love with her.
PROS & CONS
Oh, hyped books. What a wonderful love-hate relationship we have. On one hand, hype surrounding books can help you discover great new titles that will end up being new favorites. On the other, hyped books will lead you to believe that okay books are going to be amazing, which will ultimate disappoint you. Unfortunately, this book fell on the latter side for me.
A lot of people have compared Robyn Schneider’s new and super-hyped book Extraordinary Means to The Fault in Our Stars, which is weird considering how much this book reminded me of Paper Towns. I’m not going to go in to detail about all the similarities in order to avoid minor spoilers, but the bottom line is that I feel like Paper Towns did it a lot better. The comparison on the back cover saying that these characters were similar to John Green’s is not completely accurate in my opinion, which was disappointing.
The characters in this book really, really fell flat for me. The main issue is that all of them were pretty much divided into two groups: the hilarious, fun ones, and the total jerks. There was no crossing over, no exceptions, and no surprises when it came to the stars of this book. It completely lacked any real character development or much of a backstory of any sort for any of the side characters. The only characters who changed at all throughout the story were Ezra, when he realized how stupid he had been before his accident, and maybe Cassidy, although that wasn’t so much character development as it was her finally explaining what the heck was going on.
Another issue I had with this book might seem insignificant, but still really bothered me. There were a lot of Harry Potter references in this book. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love Harry Potter and I make Harry Potter references all the time on my blog. However, it seemed really weird to me that if you hadn’t read Harry Potter before, you wouldn’t get, like, ten of the jokes in this book. Why should your readers understanding your book be dependent on them also reading a different book that you didn’t write? I just don’t think Harry Potter is enough of a classic yet to make so many obvious references to it.
The last fifty pages or so of the book were really enjoyable – if a bit predictable at parts – for me. Everything started to come together and there was so much happening and so many things revealed – it was crazy. The rollercoaster on the cover of the book was definitely an accurate representation of my emotions. The ending was vague but satisfying, although I hated that for a sentence or two there Schneider pulled the whole “as I sit here writing this” cliché, as if throughout the entirety of the story we were reading it as Ezra was writing it and now we were catching up with him in the present time. Authors: please stop doing that. It was only cool the first time when Dahl did it in the BFG.
The interactions between Ezra and his friends could be really hilarious at parts, it just didn’t seem broken up enough. There were large chunks of text and then large chunks of narrative. I think this book would make an amazing movie, but at some parts the book just didn’t seem to flow very well.
I really liked that this book was very different from other similar YA novels in the way that instead of it being told by a naive girl who meets a charming boy who always has the perfect witty comments it was the complete opposite, and was instead told from a guy’s point of view who meets this awesome girl who is hilarious and so unique.
The main issue I had with Ezra’s narrative was that it wasn’t very consistent. Sometimes it just seemed like normal storytelling, and sometimes it seemed like he was talking directly to the reader. He would be making these deep and philosophical statements on one page and immature jokes on the next. It was hard to feel like we were really inside of his head because he seemed to have so many different, random personalities.
Overall, I would recommend this book if you’re just looking for something easy and quick. The ending was pretty sad, but the majority of the book was funny and simple, so it made for a good summer read. I did have a lot of issues with this book but I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the adventure it took me on.