Thursday, July 3, 2014

Review: Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

Don't Even Think About It
Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
March 11, 2014
Delacorte Press
336 pages
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
(Contains: mild language and sexual reference)
Source: eARC from publisher for Honest review
Book Synopsis:
We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper.

Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same.

So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.
My Review:

The premise for this story is very interesting - side effects of a contaminated flu vaccine giving the recipients ESP - sounds like the makings of a fascinating story. One might think it would be great to know the thoughts of those around you, cut out the middle man and all that, and avoid people lying to you, etc. But your thoughts would also be know to the others with this same ability. This part doesn't sound so great. But with the good comes the bad, with the benefits come the downfalls, and all of these are explored in this book.

My feelings on the actual story are mixed. At first it was hard to get into, mostly due to a redundant beginning. When you take on a book with numerous characters, many of which take on important roles, you are also presented with certain redundancies. When they would go through similar situations (for example, discovering their new ability), and then we would have to experience it with a number of them, the process became repetitive, slowing down the pace of the story. Fortunately, after a while the characters' individual traits were fairly easy to pick up and though there were so many characters, it wasn't confusing to discern them.

However, once we're in the heart of the story, the pace picks up and the characters are working together well, so the repetition is cut down significantly. Then we are able to get into the pros and cons of their new group ability, which I think was well imagined and realistically conveyed. Though the internal and external dialogue was a bit much at times, I did feel like I was in the heads of multiple high school students. Their thoughts, struggles, worries, hopes, etc. felt legitimate. I could discern the multiple character voices, which is quite a feat considering the number of characters.

There were some funny, silly moments. No one wants to hear their parents thoughts when they are having or thinking about to have sex. No one. But I found there to be more often sadder, heavier moments. There's a reason we don't want to know everything everyone around us is thinking. One issue, of course, is discovering people are lying to you. And the lying comes in so many forms, from blatant lying and cheating, to downplaying or avoiding the truth, to justifying your action, etc. Then there's the fact that you can't hide anything. All your insecurities, your secrets, your fears and doubts, your desires, your likes and dislikes, are out there for all to see. Even your strengths are at the forefront, to be manipulated by anyone with access. This book explores all that, and much more.

My favorite character was Cooper. In the beginning he is the quintessential happy, easy-going, optimistic, slightly oblivious person you want to have in your life. Everyone likes him. But with much knowledge comes a new perspective, and watching what he goes through is heart-breaking. And by the end, the decisions he makes were well thought out and I am very curious what will happen with him next.

When the say "next," I am referring to what has the potential to be a series. This doesn't necessarily end on a cliffhanger, but the ending is open for "more." While it took longer than I'd hoped for me to get into this book, it did grow on me and improve as time progressed. I would read a second book, as I imagine some of my complaints with this one will not be as pertinent as the story and group ESP has already been set up. This entire concept has challenges in how to write it, and I think the author did a good job overall.

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