(Original review posted on my livejournal account: http://intoyourlungs.livejournal.com/36644.html)Why I Read It:
Now that I think about it, I'm really not sure why this book caught my eye. I remember coming across it at work back when it first came out and thinking "Whoa, that sounds kind of intense" but never got around to buying it. Then we got some new Bargain books in and this was going for $5.99 for the hardcover (not counting my 30% off employee discount) so I impulsively bought it.
I seriously wish I had reigned in my impulsiveness when I bought this book. It ultimately ended up feeling like a waste of time and I wish I had just put it down and marked it as a DNF (something I really need to learn to do). Thankfully it wasn't a very long book.
I think what bugged me the most was that I never felt ANYTHING for these characters. I never got the sense that they were depressed and suicidal: they just felt like teens who were suffering from normal teenage angst and were kind of mad at the world (which is FINE but that does not equate to suicidal for me). It also didn't help that we got little to no insight into the characters' minds; we don't get to see how they deal with the horrible feelings of being suicidal. I wouldn't have minded if they didn't have reasons for feeling depressed/suicidal (depression is not always circumstantial) but we get so little from them.
Actually, all the characters seemed to be defined by one dominant trait: the asian girl was a lesbian, the driver guy was an alcoholic wannabe athlete, Alice was a compulsive liar and the narrator just cried a lot. I never cared about any of them and I honestly wasn't invested in whether they actually offed themselves in the end or not (though it's pretty obvious that they WON'T -- what kind of message would that send?)
Oh yeah, and there's "romance" in this book (I use that term very lightly) between the narrator and one of the girls on the trip (the one who isn't a lesbian). The problem is that the girl was a very unlikable character, and not just because she was a liar -- she was just annoying as all get out. Yeah, she may act like a typical angry teenager, but unfortunately, most angry teenagers are irritating and aren't fun to read about it. She had NO redeeming qualities, and while she obviously has very real and serious problems (she's obviously neglected which is why she feels the need to lie and be an all around annoying brat) it's just skimmed over and never really addressed, which made it impossible for me to feel an ounce of sympathy for her.
Big spoilery-bit ahead concerning the ending here: And then we actually get to the ending of the book. What a freakin' cop-out. So the narrator starts freaking out and pulls out a gun that one of the other people brought and shoots it at a grave, has a bullet ricochet and then graze his head. This near-brush with death has made him realize that he wants to LIVE. How does that even make sense? It's been stated that the kid has tried to kill himself before and he's never had this epiphany. I suppose this time was supposed to be different because he's made some friends along the way, but his change of heart still felt incredibly abrupt. And then BAM the book ends. That's it. I'm sorry, but depression and feeling suicidal DO NOT go away that easily. It's a long healing process and the flippant attitude (whether intentional or not) grated on me immensely.Final Verdict:
I did not like this book. At all. This could have been a heart-wrenching, potentially edge-of-your-seat read (will they do it or not?) if the characters had actually been developed or been people I could actually bring myself to care about. Unfortunately though, we're stuck in the POV of a character who was boring, and thus we're given very little insight into the other characters' minds (who could have potentially been interesting, maybe). There's a little bit of romance in the novel that's laughable, and the ending made me angry at how abrupt it was, and I'd argue flippant as well. I never got the sense that these characters were actually SUICIDAL -- it almost felt like it was tacked on to the characters as an after-thought even though it's supposed to be a huge part of their predicament. It's the driving force of the story!! Anyway, I'm going to end this rant here. I obviously don't recommend this, but if you're looking for something "edgy", or are interested in reading about this kind of thing, maybe you'll enjoy it more than I did.