Friday 8 May 2015

Book Review - Life Unaware

Life Unaware
Author: Cole Gibson
Genres: Contemporary | Young Adult
Release Date: 28th April 2015
No. Pages: 320
Source: Review Copy - Entangled: Teen
Regan Flay has been talking about you.

Regan Flay is on the cusp of achieving her control-freak mother's 'plan' for high school success - cheerleading, student council, the Honor Society - until her life gets turned horribly, horribly upside down. Every bitchy text. Every bitchy email. Every lie, manipulation, and insult she's ever said have been printed out and taped to all the lockers in school.

Now Regan has gone from popular princess to total pariah.

The only person who even speaks to her is her former best friend's hot but socially miscreant brother, Nolan Letner. Nolan thinks he knows what Regan's going through, but what nobody knows is that Regan isn't really Little Miss Perfect. In fact, she's barely holding it together under her mom's pressure. But the consequences of Regan's fall from grace are only just beginning. Once the chain reaction starts, no one will remain untouched..

Especially Regan Flay.

Books are special. They're a mixture of 26 letters, jumbled up into an impossible number of variations, influencing us and our thoughts, our decisions, our emotions, changing our perspectives, our opinions, our attitudes, rearranging our point of view, how we see people and the world, but most of all, when they're good, connect and allow a reader to completely and utterly resonate with the story that's being told. When a book is that good that it takes a hold of your sensitive heart strings, those that feel, sometimes, just a little too close to home, and manages to make the world, in the time you're reading, less scary, and less intense, less, overwhelming, that's when you know you've got more than just a good book - it's perfection. Life Unaware, to me, was nothing short of perfection.

Trying to explain how and why Life Unaware was in every way, faultless for me, is difficult, it covers one of the subjects I have started to become less and less interested in - the 'teenage drama queen who has big personal secrets and likes the best friends hot brother' - I understand completely, this book does sound like a lot of other books you've probably read before, but I can solidly assure you it isn't. Life Unaware is about so much more than just a girl who goes from top to flop; it's about the growing up and finding your place in this world, being branded by labels, being judged by other people because of other people, forgetting what you want out of life because other people, family, friends, powerful, in control elders say you should aim for something, or someone else. If you consider a problem you might have had growing up, finding yourself, then Life Unaware has it. You name it, Gibson tackles LGBT themes with sensitivity and honesty, she delves into anxiety and panic attacks in an honest and true to life light, she takes on bullying, take it's head on, and rips it apart at all angles, how one word doesn't just affect one person in one way, but many people, in many different ways, and touches upon suicide in a really heartbreaking way. There are books I've loved and books that I've connected with, but very few have made me feel less freak-like and more - well, beautiful - Life Unaware is one of them.

Gibsons characters and their voices are definitely shining features of this book too. Regan's voice was really down to earth and honest - we can all admit to being a little like Regan at some point in our lives, feeling pressured, feeling alone, feeling as though the simplest of tasks could go wrong, feeling a though the world is watching for a mistake, and hiding it behind actions that aren't very like us, but end up defining us. I've been branded many of the same labels Regan was in this novel - I've also branded and labelled other people with them too, without a care in the world, and Life Unaware doesn't just include this, but Gibson explores it, and not only highlights how very wrong it is, but made me consider how very wrong I myself has been, and how my real life actions, although different and more personal, were not all that different to Regan's. As far as development goes, Regan's journey is a powerful one, with emotion and depth, with honesty and a raw heartbreaking feel that tugged at my feelings in ways they haven't been tugged in months, and her relationships with people were also really wonderful. Her relationship with her mother, although a little overused, was executed perfectly, I could understand her stress, her fear of letting her mother down, and all the time, Gibson remained consistent on how Regan's personal battles were never over. Mental illness' require time, commitment and dedication in order to control, and you never really overcome them entirely, subduing them in order to live life better is always the aim, and Gibson, at every angle, at every turn, made sure this points was highlighted, and that made Regan's journey all the more beautiful.

"Whenever someone says something about us, it gets written inside us, permanently. The good words, the ugly words, it’s all right here.” I placed a palm against my chest. “Sure, you can scribble out the words or try to paint over them, but beneath the layers of paint and ink, they're still there, branded to our cores like initials carved in a tree."

Even how Gibson explored the romance aspect in Life Unaware was done superbly. Let me tell you, asking for consent is attractive, it's damn well one of the most sexy and respectable things a guy can do, and at all times, Gibson highlighted issues such as consent, approval and permission within Regan and Nolan's relationship. Their hate-to-like (which is always beautiful, because it's very rarely love after a few weeks) romance was beautiful, it was explored and executed brilliantly, from Nolan's protective, yet not overwhelming or douche-like possessiveness, to Regan's nerves, uncertainty and eventual strength and confidence she gained, not only from the experience, but also from Nolan, it was amazing. Even seeing the reveal coming, I fell head over heals for their feelings for one another, and can I mention how much I appreciate the none-certain happy ending? The unlining features of trust, honesty, appreciation and respect that Gibson wove into the romance aspect was astounding, and the best part is, Gibson proves just how easy it is to have an appealing, strapping love interest that isn't a dickweed, that doesn't feel the need to 'own' the main character, and that can, quite easily, be frustrating, adorable and quirky, all at the same time.

Life Unaware, as you may have guessed already, was an absolutely wonderful read for me. I had few expectations and those I did weren't insanely rave-tastic, but Life Unaware reminded me of hard truths, touched on sensitive issues that really resonate with me personally, delved into messages and features that young adult readers around are crying out for, and had a really beautiful, adorable and tense, hot romance that it was hard for me not to find this novel perfect. There are a lot of mental disorder, young adult novels out there, but if I could recommend you read just one, make it this one - Gibson's debut is just too good to miss.


  1. This is exciting! I am a sucker for wonderful character development. It is the single most important thing to me in a book. I had not seen this book until now, so thank you for your informative review.

    1. You're welcome Suzi, best of luck if and when you read it yourself!<3

  2. I love this review! Your review is far more eloquent than mine was (and I've been waiting for yours to go up for days after you mentioned having read it on my review). It was so worth the wait, and I love your review as much as I loved this book. It really was perfect in every way, wasn't it? I really, really want a sequel though! Nolan <33333

    1. Oh I wouldn't say eloquent, I think I wrote it as soon as I finished it, I was just so in it, you know? NOLAN!<3

  3. I really enjoyed this book, but it wasn't a full five for me because I've read a lot of these kinds of books. Your first paragraph is absolutely gorgeous and I totally agree. Feeling something sets a book at five full stars, even if it does have a few faults and I'm so glad you found absolutely none with this.

    I LOVED the way the bathroom stall thing was handled. It just seems like something my school needs to do. no one in our school has a stall like that but it seems like a project that would be so cool!!!

    1. Thanks Nova, I think if I were ever to write a book, I want to use that first paragraph, it means so much to me. I do think the bathroom stall thing was beautiful, it was done so well and it was different and real wasn't it? Such love<3


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