Author: Melissa Kantor
Rating: ★★ 1/2
Synopsis: Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. Still, Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her friend. Even when she isn’t sure what to say. Even when Olivia misses months of school. Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia’s crush.
The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.
In this incandescent page-turner, which follows in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars, Melissa Kantor artfully explores the idea that the worst thing to happen to you might not be something that is actually happening to you. Raw, irreverent, and honest, Zoe’s unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.
Huge thank you to the publisher for letting us read an advanced copy of this. We are writing this honest review to say thank you.
River’s Review (2.5 Stars)
I feel really bad, but I did not like a lot of this. Cancer stories can only be done so many times in so many ways. And they can only end two ways… for most of this I just kept thinking ‘this seems forced/inaccurate/The F-it List did it better’.
Last year I read ‘The F-it list’ and while that book and this book ARE different, the main stories (best friends, one with cancer, dealing with best friend with cancer) are very similar. And I couldn’t help compare the two. So that might have been my own issue.
Overall though, I kept finding myself having trouble with the writing. A lot of the sentences felt a bit unnatural and I kept having to re-read stuff and try to figure out what it was trying to actually SAY. Which drove me nuts. The writing should flow and I shouldn’t have to re-read things as much as I did.
Also, the whole first half of the book bothered me because it just all seemed inaccurate. I’m not a doctor, but I have gone through cancer with all of my grandparents and a lot of the facts didn’t seem to match what I already know about cancer and treatments. I do realize that things are different for kids with cancer, and that treatments have changed over time… but I really hated how it made me feel like I should go and do my own research to see if the information in this book was true or not. In the acknowledgments the author does admit that she chose story over facts at times so maybe that was part of the problem.
I also didn’t really buy the friendship. We’re told that they are OMGBFFLIKESISTERSCLOSERTHANSISTER but I never actually FELT it. They say ‘I love you’ and kiss each other on the cheek and sleep over at each others houses and tell each other everything, but I never really FELT the bond that they had. Which led to more disappointment. I also felt like I didn’t know ANYTHING about Zoe other than she used to be a dancer and was the bitchy one of the two. For the first half of the book I didn’t even remember her NAME and she’s the one telling the story! And this is weird, because I totally don’t have any problems with swearing in books, but every time Zoe would drop the f-bomb I wanted to just tell her to shut up. She didn’t seem the type and the way she used it just seemed unnecessary. Like it was done for shock value or something. idke. It just didn’t work for me.
The romance was blah and made me angry even when it first started to develop. Honestly, I don’t even think it was really needed.
The latter half of the book was much better. I don’t want to spoil what happens, but up until we learn Olivia’s fate, I was going to give this a 2 star rating. The end picked it up to 2.5 because I actually started to feel things. I didn’t cry, but there was a moment of tearing up… which again bothered me in this book because I felt like there were supposed to be these huge tear-jerking moments and I never actually felt choked up.
So this book isn’t bad, but it wasn’t for me, especially after having read ‘The F-it List’ and loving that story and friendship WAY more.
Sam’s Review (2.5 Stars)
This isn’t going to be a long review because I really do find myself nodding with everything my co-blogger wrote about this book. My frustration with novels that deal with cancer come from the fact that as someone who lives with a cancer patient every day of their life, there were too many aspects in this story that felt so unrealistic to me that I struggled to make the connections where the author wanted me to as a reader.
Don’t get me wrong, I have a ton of sympathy for a lot of what happens to Olivia as a character, and I actually thought she was the better of the two protagonists. Zoe, is more in the position I deal with — having to watch someone suffer and not always knowing the right ways in which to respond. Obviously, I’m not a teenage girl dealing with her best friend suffering, but there were moments where I connected with Zoe and moments where I couldn’t because my situation is so different in a way.
Really, my issue with this book is that it had tons of feelings and yet, I found myself not connecting in a lot of the situations. One of my issues with books that deal with cancer is that a lot of them focus on the negative and never on the positives. They never try to be uplifting or show a sense that people fight, and this book didn’t do much of that. I guess a part of me feels spoiled by books like The Fault in Our Stars or the The F-it List, where cancer exists, but with the right attitude it can make you stronger, a better fighter. I wanted more of that, and it’s my own fault for expecting that.
The other problem I found with this book is it went the cliche route for the subject matter, and that’s fine for most readers who want a sad, emotional read. What I wanted was a bit more on the methodical side, and about half way through I predicted the entire plot — I hate when I do that. I don’t think that is the book’s fault, I just think I may have been expecting something that ended up being far from what I was looking for.
This is not a bad book at all, but it definitely has a specific reader in mind, and clearly even after completing it, I wasn’t it. I do think there are some touching moments within the text, but for me it was too predictable and the writing just didn’t have the same strength compared to The Fault in Our Stars or the The F-it List, where you have the raw emotions up front and center. It’s kind of a pity that that was the case, and ultimately, I just wasn’t the right reader for this book.