I have no words to describe how angry I am with the bookstagram community for hyping up this book. I don’t even know where to start with this review. Do I begin with the writing pandering? Do I begin with the fact that I hated one of the main characters and didn’t care about his storyline, at all? Do I begin with how much of this story was fluffy backstory for Addie LaRue to make us sympathize with her situation but I felt nothing for her struggle? Why don’t we just dive right into how much I hate this damn book.
There are no direct spoilers in this review but there are comments on certain plot aspects, so if you plan to read this (I don’t recommend wasting your time), just be cautious of this fact.
As a queer person, let’s begin with the pandering. First, everyone is gay. Or is everyone bisexual? I’m not really sure, but the fact of the matter is, everyone wants to have sex with everyone. Oh, so that’s what bisexuality looks like to you? That’s not feeding the sex-hungry stigma of bisexuality at ALL. Exhausting. If you’re going to make a gay character, make them dynamic, make their queerness not just about sex.
And then there’s the Black character, written in so she can clearly call herself a ‘diverse’ writer, but this ‘Black lesbian best friend’ is just a comma in the story. She doesn’t add much, she doesn’t have much of a spotlight, she’s just there – and her Blackness and Lesbianism amplified without reason – to shine a “diversity” light on the author. Pandering to the many leftist youthful readers with much success, I’m sure. I see through this exhausting display.
Let’s talk about Addie, the main character who, for some reason, seeks freedom in the early 1700s despite being born a woman. Where she learned this, I’m not sure, but we are supposed to believe it and we are supposed to feel bad for her. So bad for her that we get pages upon pages upon pages upon pages of her backstory as she traverses timelessly through the years and we get to see numerous ways she’s ignored and forgotten and instead of making me feel worse and worse for her, I just get tired of the repetition and bored stiff with the fluff. Sorry, not sorry.
Oh, and then we get Henry. Henry is when bookstagram started to swoon. WHY?! I just don’t get it. Here we have the character with mental health problems so the author can get another diversity check done off her checklist. But he’s such a bore and he’s so pathetic and self-loathing that I feel nothing for his struggles. He has his own one-bedroom apartment in New York, comes from what is likely a wealthy family as they have a cottage in Jersey, and he works in a bookstore (a dream). I don’t feel sorry for him. So your girlfriend declined your proposal and you reflect on breakups from your youth and you turn into this, “I am not loved!” victim. Pa. The. Tic.
And there is more that angered me about Henry. Desperate to get another diversity check off her list, the author made him Jewish – and a self-loathing Jew at that! With a doctor older brother! WOW! Not a trope at ALL! Thanks for feeding the stigma of this one, too, Schwarb! And then you add to the myth that all Jewish parents want their son to be a Rabbi. They’re not Orthodox. This is such a stupid comment. I have never known a Jewish mother to want their son to be a Rabbi. And if they’re as religious as you make it sound, they wouldn’t say. “Happy New Year” to each other, they’d say, “Shana Tova,” like every other Jew at Rosh Hashanah. And no one would skip a Seder – HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO A DELICIOUS SEDER?!
Henry’s entire storyline is one gian teenage boy’s diary (he’s 28…) and I hate. I wanted to skip all of it. I felt nothing for him. And none of his “twists” which were central to the cliffhanger and the storyline were shocking or exciting. Despite predicting them – and the ending by page 470 (out of 540) – I just didn’t care. At all. Not even a little bit. People said they cried at these parts and I just rolled my eyes.
And why am I spending so much time on Henry? Because this is supposed to be about Addie LaRue, you ask? Because that’s what the book becomes. It becomes Henry’s story. We spent 200 pages looking into Addie’s story and then suddenly it becomes Henry’s story. And his story sucks. And if I have to hear about him or Luc’s black curls one more time…
Speaking of Luc… I don’t care about Luc. Another central character, the antagonist, that I don’t care about. I don’t hate him, I don’t like him, I don’t fear him, I anticipated all his twists. Garbage.
Here are a few more comments that I want to address:
- Notre Dame didn’t have the two bell towers in 1714
- Since when is photography and film not art? Since when are books and writing not art? Nonsense
- I think this author hates love, or at least doesn’t understand what it is
- The breakdown in the pub at around page 400 was ridiculous… Addie is 300 years old but still has an emotional breakdown like a 12-year-old girl? Yeah, okay, believable.
- I didn’t think you could make theatre kids any more exhausting than they already are, and then I read this book
- All the “big name” drops (Joan of Arc, Hemingway, etc) got a giant eyeroll
- How did Addie always have books in the late 1700s… even the people she “stole them” from were dirt poor, and books didn’t become affordable for the public until the 19th century… nonsense!
I think all the people who said this book was amazing, changed their lives, ruined them emotionally, was the best book of 2020, read it and liked it due to the Hive Mind of bookstagram and not with a conscious and critical eye. I genuinely am not sure what there is to like about this book. Even the ending was stupid. It should have ended without the last chapter. If you read this review and still decide to read this book, at least be honest with yourself, honest with how the author is playing you like a leftist puppet, and honest about how much you hate Henry.
No one could honestly love Henry. Why are (supposed) strong women endlessly loving the wounded immature man-child? What about this appeals? You want to know why millennials are endlessly dating duds, it’s because they read books like this and romanticize getting themselves a Henry. Reach for the skies, man! Get yourself that broken, selfish, pathetic 29-year-old who still seeks approval from his parents and has a drug and alcohol problem! What a gem! But at least he has black curls!
I hate this book. I wanted to give it two stars for the writing but after careful reflection, it doesn’t even deserve that. Be honest with yourself about this book and stop feeding into the Hive Mind, please.
1 out of 5 stars
I don’t know how long I wasted reading this crap, but it took a week.