Saturday 12 November 2016

Book Club Picks #5 Our Chemical Hearts

When Grace Town walks into class a couple of weeks into senior year, Henry Page is immediately intrigued. However, it is not her beauty that interests him, but the fact that she wears boys clothes and walks with a cane. Henry is determined to find out this girls story. However, he soon discovers his idea of Grace Town is not who she truly is.

 As this book has been compared to John Green and Rainbow Rowell, I was really hoping I was going to enjoy it! It is told from the point of view of Henry Page, a high school senior who is hoping to become the editor of the school newspaper. However, everything changes when the new girl, Grace Town is appointed as co-editor, but refuses the position. Grace Town is a huge mystery, and Henry is determined to solve her.

I found this book to be quite cliché and similar to other contemporary YA novels that I have read. Although the blurb does compare the book to John Green's work, I did not expect that to mean that a large part of the book is almost identical to Paper Towns. I found the ending to be almost exactly the same as John Green's novel, and it gave the same message that it is often dangerous to fall in love with the idea of a person, rather than with the person themselves. Although it is a good message to send out, it is by no means original, and my overall thought on this book was was that it was a slightly worse version of Paper Towns.

As far as plot is concerned, it felt as if the author had a checklist of things she wanted to include to make the book relatable to a teenage audience, and proceeded to add them in a haphazard way. Although I usually enjoy pop culture references, some of the them seemed a little forced in this book, almost as If the author had spent ten minutes on Tumblr and declared herself the “Meme Queen”

Although I was initially amused at Henry's quirky parents, I found them to be extremely over the top and unrealistic when they decided to randomly dress up as Star Trek characters. I did however love how well his parents got along with each other, so I was disappointed when it was revealed that was not the case. Although it is true that a lot of romantic relationships don't work out, I was disappointed that literally all of the characters relationships didn't work out, as I would have loved for the book to have shown that not all relationships end in heartbreak.

I didn't really become emotionally attached to any of the characters with the slight exception of Grace. I felt as if Grace seemed like the only realistic character, and her grief towards the end of the book seemed raw and real, with real emotion behind it. I hated how Henry ruined this, as although Grace had a genuine reason to show grief, Henry locks himself in his room and listens to Taylor Swift songs, which I felt lessened the impact of the previous scene. I found Henry to be quite selfish, as he seemed to care more about the fact that Grace wasn't in love with him than he cared about what Grace was going through.

I loved the diversity that came in the form of Lola, but I did feel that making her both a person of colour and a lesbian made it seem like all the diversity was packed into one character. I also felt as if making her a lesbian was an excuse for her to be able to hang out with the boys without entering a romantic relationship with them, as for some reason it often seems the case that authors feel as if heterosexual males and females can't possibly have a platonic relationship.

Although Murray was there to be the classic “funny friend” I found him to be a little over the top and occasionally annoying. I didn't really see much of a purpose to him, as all he seemed to do was over exaggerate being Australian, get drunk and cry over his ex girlfriend. Although I do usually like funny characters, I just couldn't get myself to like Murray.

I did think that the book redeemed itself a little towards the end, but unfortunately it was not enough to make me enjoy the book overall. It wasn't original enough for me, and the characters seemed like recycled versions of John Green characters. However, as we often do, the book club members had mixed opinions on this one, and we were split almost evenly between who enjoyed it and who didn't. Although this book was unfortunately not for me, I would still recommend it if you love John Green and contemporary YA is your favourite genre.

I don't usually give half ratings but I would probably rate this one a 2.5

Our Chemical Hearts is now available to purchase!

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