I can’t tell you how excited I was when this book was announced. At last, John Green was coming out with another book, and like so many other people I could not wait to get my hands on it and read it for myself. That said, I was also incredibly nervous about this book. Not only is it a new John Green novel, but I was also terrified of not enjoying it, something that probably explains why I didn’t pick it up the moment it came out.
What if I had grown out of his books? What if I no longer liked his writing style? What if I didn’t like this book? Even after hearing amazing reviews from so many different people, I was still so nervous about reading this one for myself. But thankfully, my need to read this novel soon overcame my fear for it, as I was too desperate to dive into it to leave it sitting on my shelf unread for too long.
Just fifty pages into this book, I knew I was going to love it.
Before starting this book, I purposely did not read the synopsis for it, because I wanted to go into this book as blind as I could, save for the glowing reviews I had already heard from a few people. So I really did not know what to expect when I entered into this story, other than that it dealt with mental health.
Nonetheless, it didn’t take me long to fall completely into the plot and various storylines of this book. I really enjoyed the mystery element of this book, as well as the developing the relationship between her and Davis, but most of all I loved simply reading about Aza herself, and her struggle with mental illness. I loved how effortlessly the different storylines are woven together, with them fitting together so naturally that I almost didn’t realise when one become so much more prominent because it felt as though it also should have.
Mental health representation is something I really enjoy seeing in books when it is done well, and so I can’t tell you how happy I was when I started this book because of how well it does this. It was shown in such a realistic way, and wasn’t romanticised in the slightest. Nothing was shied away from or represented in a more positive light than it should have been, with every single aspect of it demonstrated in an honest and real way.
But this representation could not have been written as well as it was if Aza herself was not such a realistic and amazing character. I adored reading from her perspective because she just felt so real and so relatable in her struggles and just as a person. She was a complex character and someone whose thoughts demonstrated her life with mental illness in such a brutally honest way.
I can no more choose my thoughts than choose my name.
Another character who I just feel in love with was Davis, who again was just so realistic and such a complex character. I loved his relationship with Aza because of how well written it was, as it wasn’t some big, epic love story, but rather just a real portrayal of two teenagers trying to figure out their feelings. Davis also wasn’t introduced to simply ‘cure’ Aza of her mental illness, or to help her get better in any way, but was instead another character facing his own difficulties who simply wanted to know Aza and who enjoyed being with her.
Onto Daisy, who may have been my only problem with this book, and even then her character didn’t change my opinion on this book at all really. At the start, I really enjoyed her character, and was excited to see what would happen to her, and her friendship with Aza, as the book progressed. Then, as we got further into the book, and the focus began to move more towards Aza and her mental illness, I began to have a few problems with her and how she treated Aza. And although this was addressed, something which I was happy to see, I still ended this book not as in love with her character as I was with several of the others.
Any fear that I had about the writing style was completely dismissed the moment I started reading this. I adored everything about the way this book was written, especially because of how complex and detailed it was. John Green manages to create such gorgeous metaphors and sum things up that no one else would be able to put into words as perfectly as he does. He didn’t dumb it down, or phrase anything in a slightly easier way because it is a YA novel, but rather filled this book with ideas and points that don’t instantly make sense or that everybody knows about, such as the various artists that were so easily mentioned without explanation or clarification.
You’re both the fire and the water that extinguishes it. You’re the narrator, the protagonist, and the sidekick. You’re the storyteller and the story told. You are somebody’s something, but you are also your you.
Similarly to that, this book felt like a very modern YA novel in the way that it represented what it is to be a teenager in today’s world. It interwove technology so easily into the story, and so well demonstrated how large a part it plays in teenager’s everyday lives. The use of text messages and mention of fanfiction fitted so naturally into this story, and didn’t make anything feel disjointed, but rather added to an otherwise amazing book already.
Finally, the ending of this book fitted so well with the rest of it in its brutal honesty that didn’t sugarcoat anything, but rather ended this book in exactly the way it should have ended in my opinion. As with so many of John Green’s novels, we didn’t get a fairy-tale happy ending, but instead got a heartbreaking yet realistic last few pages that continued to represent mental illness so well.
In conclusion, this book was everything I wanted it to be and more. This book has absolutely amazing mental health representation and realistic, flawed characters who I couldn’t help but love with all my heart. As you can probably already tell, I loved everything about this book, and would recommend for absolutely everyone to pick up this beautiful book for themselves.