“You’re crazy, but I like crazy. There’s a quote–I can’t remember who said it–‘The only people for me are the mad ones.'”
So I actually randomly stumbled upon this book while I was perusing Amazon one day for some new books to add to my wishlist. I had decided to allow myself to get the newer paperback cover of The City of Bones, the first book in The Mortal Instruments series, because I want the whole set and so as a gift to myself I bought the first book. I then decided to buy another book, because, you know, I didn’t want that book to be lonely on it’s way to me, so I was looking at other books and although I found many I want, nothing was really striking me at the time, until I saw this one. I tried looking it up and couldn’t find hardly any reviews on it, still really can’t, but the concept sounded interesting enough so I decided to get it, and I’m really glad I did.
I’ve seen several reviews where this book is compared to the movie The Breakfast Club, and although I can kind of see it, each character belongs to their own social group, and none of them really get along at first until being together kind of forces them to become friends, plus the name of the novel itself, but other then those similarities, I definitely wouldn’t say it’s anything like The Breakfast Club.
Rebel Bully Geek Pariah, each of these words a label to describe one of the characters; rebel being Andi, the once pretty, popular girl who seemingly overnight became the dread-locked “bad girl” who steals; bully being York, the once star athlete who after an accident gives up sports and instead becomes the class funny guy, using cruel means to illicit laughter from his friends; Boston, the geek, York’s younger and much smarter brother, who, despite his age, will be graduating with York’s class and plans to attend an Ivy League school; and then there’s Sam, the pariah, a girl with a hard past, who’s had to deal with her mother’s drug addiction problems all her life, getting to know her mother between her trips in and out of prison, and who has tried to be invisible for most of her time in school. The four end up all attending a party in the woods, when the police break up the party. The four run off, trying to escape getting busted, when they stumble onto a car in the middle of the woods, that may or may not belong to undercover police officers. They end up stealing the car, which ends up being the first decision in a long series of pretty bad decisions that could change each of their futures beyond what they thought possible.
The reviews I have seen of this book have been very mixed, some people really like it and others really don’t and that kind of surprises me. I thought this was a wonderfully written novel about four very different adolescents getting to know each other, while simultaneously trying to figure out how to fix the major situation they’ve found themselves in. When I first read a brief summary of the book, I thought we would maybe get to see the story from all four of their perspectives, but the book is actually entirely written from Sam’s perspective. I think that is one area where it might have been neat to change perspectives but I still really love the story as it is written. The story follows Sam’s perspective from before the incident happens, when she thinks back to times when she has seen the other three characters around school and her impressions of them then, to after the incident, as Sam sits in prison (not a spoiler, this is said in the first chapter), recalling the events of the incident to her mother, to the incident itself, which takes up most of the chapters of the book. The book jumps around seamlessly connecting these different perspectives in a way that I thought really worked. As you get to know each of the characters, you get to understand the struggles that they’ve faced and I think each of them are relatable in their own ways. The book is fairly fast paced, and I would definitely call the novel a thriller because nothing is quite as it seems and you’re never really sure with what might come their way next. I was really satisfied with the ending, though you don’t entirely find out what happens to each of them, I feel like Erin Lange did a great job of ending it in a way where you don’t need to know exactly what happens to each character, you’re almost left to interpret it as you will, and I like that. I think this book also does a great job of showing addiction, loss, and overbearing family from a child/teen’s perspective as each character has had to deal with one or two of these struggles. Sam for instance has had to live with her mother being an addict most of her life, Andi has had to deal with losing a parent at a young age, and dealing with another parent who’s been too afraid to face the world since; and the two boys who have had to deal with different ends of their parents’ overwhelming treatment of them. Overall, I really thoroughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it to anyone who’s interested in a YA thriller with a little dash of themes from The Breakfast Club mixed in.