Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Book Review - We Are All Made of Molecules

We Are All Made of Molecules
Author: Susan Nielsen
Genres: Mystery, Contemporary | Young Adult
Release Date: 7th May 2015
Publishers: Anderson
No. Pages: 336
Source: Review Copy - Anderson
Meet Stewart. He's geeky, gifted and sees things a bit differently to most people. His mum has died and he misses her all the more now he and Dad have moved in with Ashley and her mum.

Meet Ashley. She’s popular, cool and sees things very differently to her new family. Her dad has come out and moved out – but not far enough. And now she has to live with a freakazoid step-brother.

Stewart can't quite fit in at his new school, and Ashley can't quite get used to her totally awkward home, which is now filled with some rather questionable decor. And things are about to get a whole lot more mixed up when these two very different people attract the attention of school hunk Jared..

You may or may not recall that some books I've read have been books I've been able to look at, just look at, and know I would enjoy reading it, and you may recall that when I mentioned this phenomenon, I said that around 9 out of 10 times, it works. We Are All Made of Molecules is the one that got away. The 1 out of 10. The really disappointing read that makes me question my trust, taste and expectation in novels. This book could have been absolutely beautiful, but just.. wasn't.

Before I more than likely end up ranting and raging a little later, I do want to point out that there were some wonderful moments in this book, in fact, there were some general, overall, wonderful features and important messages in WAAMOM that, given how diverse the young adult sector is trying to be, you don't see all that often. The issue with these features is that they weren't as delved into and developed as they could have been, and that made something that was good, not quite as good. I cant fault Nielsen's range of characters though and they're own personal struggles. You had:

- The kid who's Mum had died of character
- The kid who's Dad turned out to be gay
- The kid that is super duper intelligent but socially awkward and loves cats
- The kid that is super duper clueless but is a social butterfly and big bitch.

Honestly, the list could go on, and while the list itself did irritate me after a short while, I either stooped caring or shut off to it entirely after a while. However, there were shining moments throughout the novel, Stewart's character being one of them. I felt like his character went through the most development and was the most realistic of them all; his grief and personal struggle of losing his Mum was honest and truthful, his relationship with his Father was also explored and nicely written about, as was his friendship with Phil, and the school friends he made. He was a really sweet, really oblivious character who I think learn a lot throughout the novel, about people, about life, about his and other people's actions and the consequences that follow them. He was an easily relatable character, even when his science side overruled him, or when his clever ideas where a little too clever, and he was my favourite part of WAAMOM. Oh, and did I mention that he likes cats, because he does, and there was one quote concerning Stewart and his cat that just spoke volumes to me:

He needs me, and I need him. He needs me to feed him and cuddle him and scoop his poops. I need him to talk, even though he never talks back. And I need him to sleep by my head at night, because then I don't feel alone.

Alas, other than other small moments such as how the LGBT's character was handled, how the father and son relationship was natured, how the family aspect was created and developed and show to be actively positive, and how the books ending came about, the rest is and was disappointing. In fact, the rest made me want to not finish this book whatsoever. Why?

- Ashley's POV was so irritating and infuriating, I wanted to murder her.
- In fact, I'm all for imperfect dislikeable characters, but she was something else.
- Secondary characters were washed out and left feeling unimportant. *sadface*
- Obvious plot developments were so obvious the obviousness was obvious.
- The love interest was a total and utter douchebag that needed decapitating.
- Douchebag is a too nice of a name for him, he was a total d******d!
- Rape or rape-like features were used as plot developments and learning curves.
- Because we all need to be physically assaulted to get over teenage years. /sarcasm
- Unrealistic consequences, or lack thereof after serious actions was diabolical.
- Really awkward, messy POV's alongside weird unnecessary punctuation.
- Lack of any real storyline that wasn't about dating a k*** or being ignored.

In fact, my biggest issues were Ashley, the love interest and the rape-like features involved. I get it okay, I get that the big, bad, pressuring love interest can be used as a way for a character to development, or realise that she's worth more, or create a tension or great bonding between characters, but it is not the universal answer. Unless you're going to genuinely make the reader aware that these actions are wrong, immoral and illegal, then you shouldn't really use them. This same feature resulted in my taking an entire star off another book read this year, Love Bomb, and in this case, the severity of the scene was much worse, and personally, handled a lot less too. Ashley was hugely taken advantage of in WAAMOM, she was put in a situation she had no control over, she was used, she was disrespected and could have been seriously harmed, or worse, raped, and this is never handled with the delicateness is deserves. Nobody is punished, and nobody is held responsible, which send the wrong message out to many, many teenage girls. If this was the only issue I had with WAAMOM, I still wouldn't have dreamt of giving it a hugely positive rating.

For a book that wanted to focus on family, on growing to love people and learning to life with different people in your life, or learning to adapt to people changing, it does well. It also does highlight how some people struggle in life, for one reason or another, and how society is still unreasonable with some aspects in life, but for me, even without it's glaring issue, it was uninteresting, lacked any real storyline and just bored me. I only ever really felt anything towards Stewart, and even then, his voice felt drowned out by the nothingness that was the rest of this novel. It saddens me that this wasn't the novel I was hoping it would be, and it's disappointing that I didn't like this novel more. I feel really quite sad, and that's the worst part.

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