Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Every Day

I bought this Friday, and had it finished on Sunday. I rarely ever do that, but it's always nice when I do. This is a quick little story that has a simple plot but will leave you thinking, mostly about gender identity and societal constraints. Those are big ideas for such a little book. I've never read David Levithan before, but he has a lot of books, including the coauthored Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green. I picked it up pretty much solely because of my love for John Green. (I wonder how sick Levithan is of being compared to JG. Those are big shoes to fill.) You can follow Levithan on his Twitter (which appears to be devoted to another of his books, The Lover's Dictionary) and his website. There is also some crazy pen-name action going on.... info from his website: "David Van Etten is actually three writers: Chris Van Etten is a full-time writer for ABC’s One Life to Live; David Ozanich is a freelance writer and playwright; and David Levithan."

A summary, from BN:
       A has no friends. No parents. No family. No possessions. No home, even. Because every day, A wakes up in the body of a different person. Every morning, a different bed. A different room. A different house. A different life. A is able to access each person's memory, enough to be able to get through the day without parents, friends, and teachers realizing this is not their child, not their friend, not their student. Because it isn't. It's A. Inhabiting each person's body. Seeing the world through their eyes. Thinking with their brain. Speaking with their voice.
       It's a lonely existence—until, one day, it isn't. A meets a girl named Rhiannon. And, in an instant, A falls for her, after a perfect day together. But when night falls, it's over. Because A can never be the same person twice. But yet, A can't stop thinking about her. She becomes A's reason for existing. So each day, in different bodies—of all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, walks of life—A tries to get back to her. And convince her of their love. But can their love transcend such an obstacle?

The first thing I had to realize about this book is that it was not, in fact, written by John Green. Seems obvious, I know, but they are two different people with two different writing styles, and it's not fair to compare them. That being said, I don't know if I would have picked this up if not for Will Grayson, so comparisons are inevitable.

This was a quick book and I read it in 2½ sittings. The plot was simple. He wakes up in a different body, and he can't stop thinking about Rhiannon. The science fiction part of the book was cool. The romance was tried and true. But I would have just liked.... more.

Since A does not identify as a male or a female, the book raised some really great questions and unique problems to their relationship. I loved all the gender identity stuff. This book had a very strong love-who-you-love and anti-label approach, which I completely agree with. It's a great book for teenagers to read, especially those who are having a hard time figuring themselves out, but like I said before, it shied away from some of the big problems. Such as: the religious nuts who demonize him when his story leaks. The free will issues. Levithan touched on the problems around a relationship with a person who changes physical form every day (and I absolutely loved that Rhiannon was not perfect and had her qualms, no matter how open minded she tried to be). Everything seemed like it was scratching the surface.

Maybe it's because I normally gravitate toward thick books that have plenty of time for all the explanation in the world that I feel this way. I certainly understand if Levithan only wanted to focus on the romance, but lets be serious, no one in real life can only focus on the romance. Everyone has to deal with other issues, it would have been great for the characters to deal with other issues as well. Gender identity is a sensitive topic among teens, and this could have been a really great, emotional book for all that. But my emotions were never pulled while reading this, and I guess that's the biggest point I'm trying to make.

Also, the ending. *SOME NON-SPECIFIC SPOILERS* I mean, was this supposed to be a happy ending? It read that way, and it felt like it, but I don't think so. How is that honestly supposed to work for Rhiannon? She would be basing everything on physicality, which was the opposite of what this book was trying to say, that it's the inside that counts. It all felt rushed, and Levithan used that pesky first-person narrator is suddenly censoring their thoughts to the reader trick, which I noticed right away.

With the way everyone raved about this book on Twitter, I expected more. More depth, more story, more ending, more everything. After the first chapter I knew it wasn't going to be JG-awesome (there I go again, but I can't help myself), but even looking at it critically after reading it I'm just not that impressed. It was a great idea, though.

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