3 stars

Book Review: The Chaos of Standing Still

Book Review: The Chaos of Standing Still

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I started this book at the very end of last year (2017). I had been patiently waiting for my library to have it ready for me. This is a story of two teens stranded in the Denver airport on New Years Eve, each with their own secrets, and sharing an inexplicable connection. The description gave me major The Sun is Also a Star vibes and couldn’t wait to read it. And, the fact that I was reading it over new years weekend seemed so perfectly serendipitous.

But…(could you feel that but coming?) this book was just okay. I felt completely mislead by the blurbs and descriptions I had read. So let me tell you what this story is actually about and hopefully then you can decide if it’s for you or not.

This story is told from the perspective of Ryn, in part on January 31st, and part in flashback as Ryn reflects on her relationship with Lottie, her best friend who was killed months before. Despite the story being told by Ryn and supposedly being about her meeting Xander, Lottie is by far the most interesting and prominent character in the story. She lives in Ryn’s memory and constant thoughts, inserting her opinions and perspective into every situation. I think to sell this as a meet cute between two stranded teens in an airport is highly misleading. The Chaos of Standing Still is about female friendship, grief, mental illness (anxiety), and the power of suppressed emotions.

Sure, it is always frustrating to read a book and see that your expectations were completely wrong, but this book was additionally frustrating because I wasn’t connected to any of the characters. I found Lottie to be entitled, bossy, and infuriating. Ryn was pretty forgettable and Xavier’s pushy-push over personality was not gripping. The minor characters were equally annoying, unnecessary, or forgettable.

I have no doubt that many people will love this book. And I think that they should. There is much to love and enjoy here, it just wasn’t for me. If you’re looking for a lighthearted, warm winter romance or simply curious about the Denver Airport conspiracy theories, maybe pass this one up.

At least then it implies transcendence. Weather always changes. It eventually morphs into something else. It never stays for long. It sure as hell beats the term supplied by the therapist my mother has been making me see for the past 10 months. “Survivors guilt.” There’s nothing short term about that.
— The Chaos of Standing Still, page

Rating: 2.5/5

Mood: deciding to go through a maze “for fun” and eventually realizing it’s actually going to take some effort to find your way out of there.

For fans of: Tell Me Three Things and What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum, To All the Boys I loved Before series by Jenny Han

Book Review: We Were Liars

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I was about 100 pages into this book, sitting in a pie shop in Brooklyn when I told my friend “this book feels like a lucid dream and I am not sure if I love or hate it.”

Months later I still can’t think of any better way to describe this story. The writing is deeply poetic and full of choppy fragmented sentences with haphazard line breaks. The dreamy feeling quickly became disengaging.

This story is about privilege, juvenile arrogance, and tragedy all told from an incredibly unreliable first person narrator. It is made obvious early in the story that due to a head trauma Cady’s memory and mental facilities are deeply compromised. As the reader it was hard for me to be fully immersed in the story when I was reading each line with trepidation. This story was interesting and intriguing and would be ideal for anyone who enjoys unlikable characters.

A wave surges up, dark blue, leaping from the sea like a whale. It arches over me. The muscles of my neck smasm, my throat catches. I fold beneath the weight of it. The blood rushes to my head. I am drowning.
It all seems so sad, so unbearably sad for a second, to think of the lovely old maple with the swing. We never told the tree how much we loved it. We never gave it a name, never did anything for it. It could have lived so much longer.
— We Were Liars; page 63-64

Rating: 3/5

Mood: I watched Across the Universe heavily drugged, just hours after getting my wisdom teeth removed, this book was deja vu of that experience.

For fans of: Our Chemical Hearts, The Nest, Terrible characters who do terrible things.