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Monday, May 16, 2016

ARC review: Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

"The days are strange and the nights feel like some hyper realistic dream I can't wake up from." p. 275

This is exactly how I feel about the book, in a nutshell.

Title: Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff
Release Date: May 17th 2016
Published by: Delacorte Press
Source: From the publisher (Thanks Julia!)

Buy online: Book Depository


Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.

Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.

But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

I have never read any of Brenna Yovanoff's novels, so I didn't know what to expect. What drew me in to this book was the summary, and the "magical realism" theme underlying in the whole story.

The first one hundred pages, I can truthfully say that I only stayed because of the romance, which, when thrown into the mix of messy adolescent thoughts and emotions end up being so confusing I wasn't sure what I was reading. There was just so much to take in. And it took me a while to digest the whole dream side of the story, mainly because I have to go through both of Marshall and Waverly's thoughts first, and boy were they tough to get out of. I had to stop a couple of times because I felt like the heaviness of their feelings are bleeding out of the pages and into me.

One question kept on floating in my mind while I was reading this book. Was high school that complicated? In some level, I understand Waverly. The need to present a version of yourself that everyone approves of, to be perfect. It was hard being her, and at some point in her life she and Maribeth had developed a destructive give and take type of relationship that you can barely call "friendship" while making up versions of themselves which will help them achieve what they thought was something that will make them have a successful high school life. They were, of course, wrong. Waverly denies herself a lot of things, and never acts carelessly because she always thinks of the consequences, and what was best at the time even though that wasn't what she feels. And she feels, despite being called a 'robot'.

Marshall, on the other hand, is a very different person altogether. So much hurt, so much pain. Angst. Drama. The level of 'darkness' he was in is in some ways similar to Waverly, and I think that is what draws him to her. Like with Waverley, who was calculated and careful with her every move, Marshall is someone else entirely underneath the underachieving, bad boy persona. To find that he's actually a kind, sensitive soul was a surprise, though I was still a little bit apprehensive with the way his character was built. To feel nothing and be numb, escape reality by hiding behind the haze of drugs and alcohol. What a sad boy.

And speaking of characters, the one I like the most is Autumn. If the things happening in this book are weird (for me), then she's even weirder. But as I get to know Autumn, that's when she makes sense. Everyone thinks she's weird because she was being true to herself, and does what she wants without caring what people might think. She's frank, she pisses people off, but she's also caring. She's the complete opposite of Waverly in daylight, and I like how Waverly described her: "a friend she needs when she didn't even know she needed to have a friend". Her relationship with Marshall perfectly describes friends growing up: sometimes they just drift away and grow apart. She was also the perfect contrast to Maribeth, who lives to undermine people secretly, slowly and deliberately, to be on top. When in all honesty, she really is just lonely, just like Waverly once was, before she met Autumn and Marshall.

Despite the heaviness, I still find myself smiling at times during heated scenes, because it can get very intense, in that quiet, rushed, secretive kind of way that gives it an entirely different feel. Brenna Yovanoff did an awesome job diving into the characters of both leads that sometimes it's impossible not to get affected by what they think, what they feel. I love that with the alternating point of views, we see what's behind the many layers that define them, not just in high school or their social standing, but in their individual lives as well. Each character added in the story widens the reader's understanding not just of it's like to be Waverly and Marshall, but what it's like to be students at that point of their lives and what they go through as teens.

Spill walls with secrets, crying for help anonymously, it makes one look back and reminisce their own lives as teenagers. Striving to be polished and perfect and realizing that sometimes being perfect just doesn't work, and having the strength to speak up, to be strong and say what's on their minds, what's bothering them, and then work to be better. The lessons this book imparts to readers are powerful. The whole dream part was very tricky and shaky, but it kept me thinking if it was deliberately done as a part of the book's overall appeal. Magical realism always tend to confuse me, but I like how it leads to so much development in the story, in the case of this book.

Places No One Knows is such a loaded read. Different, but worth all the befuddling, puzzling moments. Sometimes, people can only find solace in that very narrow gap between reality and dream, and that certainly is the case for Waverly and Marshall, who can only be their true selves and connect when they're toeing that line. I still can't quite put this story into one form or place, but that's what made this an appealing read for me.

Content (plot, story flow, character):
It took me a while to get used to the whole dream concept, for a while everything seems so vague and outrageous, and the story is so heavy at times I had difficulty in continuing.

Shining: Worthy of a Goddess' Love!

Book Cover:
I love how the cover completely defies the expectation it sets when one reads the book.

1 comment:

  1. I just recently read this book as well! I agree, it took me a while to get used to the whole dream concept and I was definitely pretty confused at the beginning. Over all I enjoyed it and I would probably also give it four out of five stars too! I am going to write a review on my own blog in a couple of days and I would love it if you checked it out!
    -Lily (from Lark and Lily)


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