review

Review: Every Day by David Levithan

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Oooh this was a cracking read! An all-around engulfing read that I couldn’t put down and am actually kicking myself for not reading sooner.

Every Day is the story of A, an entity that wakes up every day in someone else’s body, someone else’s life, but always in love with the same girl. In essence, the story is a tragic romance, thoroughly character-driven and focusing on lots of topics that are good to have in a YA novel. But what really sets this book apart for me is that I had a multitude of problems with this book, yet I am still giving it a four-star rating. I think that just goes to show how much I adored the good bits.

This book had me hooked from the start. It’s written so simplistically yet so effectively, and I’ve always been a sucker for that kind of literary talent. I always marvel how a few select authors seem to write with such ease, using so few words yet expressing themselves so clearly and meaningfully. They knock the socks off the Pretentious Purple Prose Posse who get all of the literay merit, I’ll tell you that for free. Yes, David Levithan is one of those authors who can do that. What’s more, he applies his skill to some very important subjects that I feel are always good to adress in the YA genre. That’s what really hits home for me: David Levithan’s ability to take such complicated and often painful subjects and just summarize my feelings about them in a mere handful of words.

“‘I definitely need to talk to a doctor. I have been living this for so long.’
‘But why didn’t you tell me?’
Why didn’t you see?

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I think that’s what I loved most about Every Day, the portrayal of these issues and how fantastically David Levithan could express his thoughts on them.  I also enjoyed the romance, I liked finding out where A would wake up each morning, I loved how it was such a tragic story yet I ended the book knowing that it was truly a feel-good book and it had really made me think about my own life as a result.  I geninely thought it was brilliant, so good in fact that it almost made me overlook all its flaws.

Almost.

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Here’s the thing: considering just how many problems I have with this book, I should not have given it such a high rating.  It’s not as if they’re minute problems; some are quite significant, and they mostly come from my difficulties with the old suspension of belief.  Now, I’m usually damn good at suspending my belief for a book, which I am glad of as I would not be able to enjoy some of my favourite books.  However my ONE RULE is that the fantasy you are creating has to make logical sense within itself.  I think a lot of people would agree that if an author sets up a new premice, like an entity that wakes up in a new body every day for example, not everyone is going to be immediately okay with that concept.  For me, if a author offers up a cruddy explanation for why this is happening, or worse no explanation at all, this really affects my enjoyment of the book.

Q: Why does A wake up in a new body each morning?
A: We don’t know. We’re not supposed to know. It’s not the point.

Q: Why does A only wake up in 16-year-olds’ bodies?
A: See above.

Q: Why does A only inhabit bodies within a certain radius?
A: Again, see above.

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It just really, really starts to grate your cheese.

In the end it became more and more apparent how oddly convenient these plot points were.  Let’s face it, the plot would not centre around A’s love for one sixteen-year-old American if A could inhabit the body of anyone in the entire world.  Forgive me if it sounds petty, but if you’re going to be so bloody obvious about the convenience of your story arc, can you at least make up some bullshit to attempt to explain it?  I don’t care if your explanation is lame, if it doesn’t have a plothole then I’m sold.  Whether I like it or not, I’d give you points for effort…

What also annoyed me was the utter Mary Sueism of A.  I mean really.  It got to a point where I was questioning A’s humanity.  Then I started questioning whether or not I should be questioning A’s humanity.  Is A human?  Is that even the point?  Ugh!  A is just so fucking good, as in I-am-more-convinced-that-A-is-actually-an-angel kind of good.  It’s utterly ridiculous, we’re talking about a supposedly human identity who is definitely only sixteen; with A’s very unusual upbringing, A is obviously going to be wiser beyond their years and this much is clearly reflected, but that doesn’t bloody well mean A has to be perfect!  Not going to lie: it made the story a bit more boring.

David Levithan did a good job of presenting us with some good old psychological and philosophical questions, don’t get me wrong.  But he could have done so much more.  I would love to read about A learning lessons the hard way, showing us a glimpse of humanity, making the wrong choices, being fucking selfish and crying out at the injustice of existence before drinking heavily into a pit of despair.  Let’s be honest here, with the human condition as it is, if the plot of this book was a tad more realistic it would be so much darker.  And I did find myself wishing A would turn to the dark side, because of all the thought-provoking messages David Levithan has provided us with, each one pales in comparison to the hard hitting questions we’d ask ourselves if A was a bad guy…or at least just not such a fucking angel.  Can you imagine the potential of this exact premise, yet flipped upside down?

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I can. And I would read it. Good grief, it sounds so fun I may even write it.

But I had to keep reminding myself that Every Day is not that kind of book, and I do appreciate it for what it is.  David Levithan still crams in some good, solid issues and I agreed with all of his views (except for his one on fat-shaming, but I shall not even go there).  It is supposed to be a lighter kind of book, one that can break your heart and make you think, but somehow still manage to lift you up. And that’s probably because A’s plight can really make you appreciate so much in your own life that you take for granted.

So no, Every Day hasn’t got a brilliant protagonist…or any really amazing characters for that matter.  And yes, it can get a bit preachy, you may not agree with all of A’s views, and bloody hell do you have to suspend your belief in order to get through this one without grinding your teeth to a fine sand.

But the good parts are so good, it’s still one of my favourite reads of 2013 and I’ve read some corkers recently.  Despite all its flaws I loved this book, and I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of John Green or Patrick Ness.  And in a way the book reminded me of Groundhog Day a little bit, so if you’re a fan of the film that’s a nice little bonus for you.  Or you may just think I’m completely bonkers and Every Day in no way ressembles Groundhog Day.  Except that…

…every day is Groundhog day…

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