Friday, June 01, 2012

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend (by Emily Horner)

A YA novel about a girl who has to deal with grief and her own sexuality after her best friend dies. Great title, great premise, what could go wrong? In fact, the central romance of the book is handled really well, and I definitely enjoyed reading it all the way through.

I do have some criticisms, though. It feels a little John Green lite, to me. Like Horner was going for that sensibility, but didn't quite pull it off. The characters (especially the supporting characters) are a little underdeveloped. We hear that Jon is gay and "fabulous" but he doesn't do anything gay and fabulous that I can remember off the top of my head. Oliver (who was her best friend's boyfriend) never seems like anything other than a dick. (I don't think he's supposed to be an unremitting giant asshole, but he is.)

There are also some implausible plot developments and moments and conversations that kept pulling me out of the book. There are a few little ones, like a teacher inexplicably risking his career for next to no reason, but here's the big one: half of the book (the weaker half) is about the narrator, who is 16, going on a bike trip from Chicago to California. And camping by the side of the road! Are her parents crack addicts who don't care abut her? Is she an orphan? No and no--her parents are overprotective Quakers. And yet they let her do this! Right after her best friend has been killed in a car accident! There is no way these people exist. No way. Nope.

(I did enjoy the depiction of Quakerism, though. Quakers rule.)

So there you go. I enjoyed the book more than this blog post might suggest, but it doesn't really compare to John Green. Then again, what does?

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