Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author, via NetGalley, for an honest review.
Genre: YA/Fiction/Mental Health
Plot: I’m a cutter.
I cut because I find solace in it.
I cut because it helps calm my frantic mind.
I cut because the voices inside my head tell me to.
I cut because this is the only way I know how to handle life.
Look, I totally see where the author was trying to go with this.
To bring awareness to Mental Health issues, to give a voice to those who might not be able to speak about their struggles, to help the public understand what it means to have inner demons.
I can really appreciate all of that.
These are important topics that REALLY need to be talked about more.
But for me, the way this story was executed – how the characters were developed, their dialogue, reactions and problem solving – was cringe-worthy.
And not in a good way.
I’m obviously completely in the minority on this one, because this book has nothing but amazing reviews on Goodreads. If we’re talking about the message the author is trying to send to the reader, then hell yes, it’s a 5-star read. It covers several difficult topics that so many people can relate to. It gives a voice to those who are suffering from similar demons and traumatic experiences, and sheds light on situations that other people may not know a lot about. The book gets HEAVY with these topics, and it isn’t for the fainthearted.
But if we set that aside and talk about the writing, character development, dialogue, etc.
It’s just not done well.
It was SO hard to make a connection with any of the characters. Their struggles and personalities were voiced, but I didn’t have the chance to really KNOW any of them. The moments of Ivy cutting herself were the closest I could get to having a meaningful connection with her. They were detailed and really expressed the emotional terror that envelopes a person when they self-harm. In those instances, I could really feel her pain and confusion. The dark scenes translated well through the pages! But in every other aspect, Ivy’s character fell flat and seemed really all over the place in terms of her development.
Her character flips back and forth between being all-knowing and dishing out advice, to knowing nothing and not being able to practice any of the things she tells others to do.
That doesn’t make sense to me.
The dialogue felt awkward and forced, it didn’t have a nice flow, and I was cringing the entire time from how uncomfortable it kept making me. Some of the conversations run on for too long, and it causes a lot of repeated sentences and ideas. Every response is “nope” and every emotion that Ivy may feel is summed up with an “ugh” instead of being creatively described. Then when a REALLY serious moment is happening the characters can only come up with the same phrase to say over, and over, and over – “oh, man” or “It’s okay dad, tell me, I need to know dad”.
Can’t they say something else?
Tobias’s character is really frustrating to me too. He instantly latches onto Ivy with his INSTA-LOVE, and becomes REALLY controlling and possessive with her. Why do none of the other characters see an issue with this? He’s super pushy and aggressive. I KNOW HE’S WORKING THROUGH ISSUES, OKAY? But does that make it okay for his character to go around throwing punches and freaking out? AND WHY IS EVERY OTHER CHARACTER OKAY WITH HIS ATTITUDE?! They all continually make excuses for out of control behavior.
Someone gets hit in the face – “here, have a soda”.
Ivy comes clean about her demons and opens up to her friends, and their response? “Yea let’s just drop it and talk about it some other time”.
It seems to me that the author was so focused on shoving every “hot topic” into this book, that she forgot to put work into her characters and what they say. There isn’t any FEELING behind their thoughts and actions, it’s robotic, stiff and dull. It just feels like lazy writing.
I really wanted to like this, because I feel strongly about Mental Health Issues NEEDING to be talked about in society, and handled with compassion and care. As a society I think we shy away from these topics, or look down on people who think or behave differently.
I commend the author for giving Mental Health a voice.
But in terms of a great book, this isn’t it.