Tuesday, February 05, 2013

A book review! Possession-Stalking in YA Literature.

I've never actually sat down and done a novel review before. I don't even know how I became aware of this novel. I was aware of the author vaguely for having done some queer YA novels but Every Day (By David Levithan) seemed more interesting from the premise alone. Essentially, you have a person named A who wakes every day in a new body. And then A falls in love with a girl.

A has rules about not disrupting the life of A's host: A breaks them. Badly in some cases, but it's not a surprise since the novel can only end badly. Which in this case wasn't bad at all: I liked the fact that True Love(TM, Patent Pending) did not magically fix things, and I liked the questions the novel ended with regarding others like A and A running away from possible answers since the method involved might be the mind death of A's 'host' to remain in their body. I didn't mind the lack of answers in this respect: it was obvious A had no clue about their own nature and had not experimented greatly to discover anything. (Ethically, of course, how one can do such experiments is never openly pointed out but definitely a factor.)

Now the parts I disliked: A was a flat-out jerk of the highest order. A stalker/possessor who damaged lives in a quest to be with a girl because they had a 'special connection'. A damaged the lives of his hosts, and arguably the girl herself in a love of utter hopelessness. The other major gripe was the bodies A went through in the course of the novel seemed to be a YA checklist of Issues. The Too-Pretty Person. The Fat Person. The Depressed Person. The Junkie. And so on. And most get presented in after-school special fashion, as though in 16 years of body-jumping they hadn't happened before.

Add this to the fact that the people A was in recalled A to whatever extent the plot demanded and things become problematic. Then 'Oh, I don't get foreign languages when I'm in Illegal Immigrant body'. Uh, what? Why not? Wouldn't you have spent enough time in the bodies of people of many, many ethnic groups and learned basic languages in 16 years? Evidently, not. Has A broken rules, delved too deep into minds, ever tried to stay in a host for more than a day? Sort of, kind of, in a wishy-washy sense. You can't make someone the protagonist of a YA novel, expect the reader to root for them, and make them both a stalker and a flat-out villain. The downside is that A comes across as plodding and boring in a lot of ways.

All told, however, it wasn't a bad novel. I like the author's style and will likely try at least one other book by him, and I'd probably pick up a sequel to this one just to see if it addresses any issues I had with it but it is hard to recommend to others as it feels as though the novel fell sort of the idea that inspired it. Which I suppose is a good and bad flaw in a novel. It's also hard to recommend since A is the Nice Guy/Stalker archetype and that seems both trite and done to death ....


  1. Heh, I've had like 20 people recommend that book to me :)

    I suppose I'll still read it, but based on this, I won't rush to get it ASAP...

    1. You can have my copy if you like; I doubt I will reread it again.