Title: Don’t Even Think About It
Author: Sarah Mlynowski
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Random House Children’s/Delacorte Press
Publication Date: March 11, 2014
Format: Egalley from Netgalley.com
Find this review and much more at Read, Run, Ramble
Thank you Random House Children’s/Delacorte Press via Netgalley for providing me with an early copy of this book!
If you’ve read the synopsis, you know what this book is about. I was initially intrigued by the sci-fi/fantasy twist of a group of teens “contracting” ESP through a flu vaccination. Good premise – so much an author can do with that!
I was initially disappointed and thought that getting through the novel would be a tough task and I probably wouldn’t rate it very high or have much to say for a review. The author did turn things around a bit – let me walk you through a few of my thoughts…
First, the narrator is a collective “we”. A group of students, those who are affected, narrate the story together. In the beginning, this POV really threw me for a loop and I didn’t like it. It felt like, as a reader, I was being given the chance to connect with the characters. As I kept reading, I did adapt to the POV and it did get better with time; however, I’m wondering how much the story would have benefited had the author chosen a core group of students to tell the story and having minor characters share through the telepathy that was so prevalent anyway. The other part I found distracting about this narration is that sometimes the author used italic text to indicate thoughts vs. actual dialogue, but then later in the novel it seemed like some thoughts weren’t being tagged that way so I started having a hard time distinguishing what the characters were thinking vs. what they were saying out loud. Since I was reading an ARC, this may be corrected in the final, published version of the novel.
Second, while this is YA (and I am a devout YA and Children’s Lit lover), this one felt very juvenile and immature. I can see a teenager losing interest because some of the characters are just so stereotypical, as are some of the issues they deal with. Because I feel like this book is more about the humor than it is about serious teenage situations, I didn’t wallow on that too much, but I could see it turning off teen readers who wish to be considered with a little more depth and by adult readers who, while they can still relate to, gain insight from, and enjoy a teen novel, get irritated and bored with the trivial nature of some of the “big deals”.
Third, while this is very character driven, none of the characters really ever took up space in my brain. There was never a feeling of connectedness or really caring what happened one way or the other…to any of them. I’m sure the narration in part caused that, but also because they were all very one-dimensional and shallow, and there wasn’t really very much character development. The crux of the story was on this new ability and what they could, did, and would do with it, but not much in the way of developing each character and planting them in the reader’s head. Even some of the substantial problems weren’t important to me as the reader.
Now for the redeeming aspects of the novel (aka what took me from a 1 or 2 star review to a 3).
I mentioned humor above and that really is one of the major redemptive qualities of the book. Teens and adults alike will be able to see the humor in some of the more trivial aspects of the novel and how the teens interact with themselves, with each other, and with the adults around them. There’s lots of opportunity for humor when a group of teens can read each other’s thoughts and the author definitely captured that aspect.
While I didn’t feel a large connection with any one of the characters, there was a couple that did start to take up root in my heart and mind. Olivia and Cooper both get a little bit more substance than some of the other characters, and they do have non-trivial issues they work through in the novel. They keep the novel rooted somewhat and actually made the other characters’ more trivial issues a fun balance.
In final summary, this ended up being a fun, quick read and I actually needed it as a break between more intense reads. I rolled my eyes a time or two, but I did find myself really wanting to see how the story ended, how the kids resolved their issue, and what they did with their ESP in the meantime. Just don’t take yourself or the characters too seriously and you’ll be just fine!
I was provided with an ARC of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I am not compensated for any of my reviews.