Everybody raves about Patrick Ness, but this is my first experience with his books. He seems like a talented writer. His prose was well-executed. He knows his way around story and character arcs. And he seems very imaginative and inventive. I even read this book pretty fast, and while reading, I wasn’t ever wishing I was reading something else. But . . . I just didn’t click with it. And the parts I did click with were sort of undercut by the ending. It was fine!
The premise here is that our main characters live in a world where weird supernatural or fantastic things happen, but the center of those happenings are people the main character (whose name I have forgotten) and his friends call “indie kids,” which I thought was a weird name. (I just looked up the guy’s name, and it’s Mikey.) Each chapter starts with an italicized and overdramatic account of what’s happening in “the main story” with the indie kids. Only, it’s not the main story of this book, which is about Mikey and his family and friends.
Mikey has issues with mental health, and arc about openness and honesty with his friends, and issues with his politician mom that are the real center of the book. My favorite character was his best friend Jared, who has god-blood in his parentage, and who is worshiped by cats. SPOILER Which is why I was so upset when it turned out that Jared decided to become a god and he only has one year left on earth. This development makes sense in terms of the story, but I still hated it END SPOILERS.
I think my main issue with this book is that it just felt like a normal YA contemporary book, with weird shit going on in the background, and I don’t normally like reading contemporary YA all that much. I realize this was the entire point, but I think I wanted more direct satire and commentary on how fantasy story arcs affect common people than was going on here. Also, this is satire specifically directed at YA fantasy and paranormal/sf, and I that wasn’t super satisfying for me. I wish it had more of a traditional sf/fantasy bent. It turns out I don’t enjoy YA fantasy and paranormal tropes even enough to like when they’re being made fun of.
And that was another thing. I thought the opening bits where the “main story” was being told didn’t work at all. I thought he focused too much on the obvious things to poke fun at, like twee names (there are five Satchels, for instance), and it seemed like the satire took more of a mean edge than a loving one, to me anyway. I know other people have really liked it.
All that to say, this just didn’t vibrate on my exact frequency, and YMMV. I may try further Patrick Ness books, but the rest of them sound super intense and that is also not something that is up my alley. I don’t know, maybe.