Thursday, September 22, 2016

Review: Our Chemical Hearts

Our Chemical Hearts by Kyrstal Sutherland
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: October 4th, 2016
Source: Book Expo America
Date Read: 9/5/16 to 9/9/16
320 pages

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.

Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland's brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

I received this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Quotes taken from ARC may or may not be in the published edition.

In all honesty, I didn’t think I would like this one as much as I did. Sure, I love Rainbow Rowell and would read anything she’s written. But I take those little X meets Y taglines with a grain of salt. Usually they’re not very accurate, and used as a strategy for marketing.

But boy did this book prove me wrong.

Our Chemical Hearts starts off with Henry knowing he’ll never get a girlfriend (Ok Henry, nothing new here), until his English teacher pairs him off with his new co-editor, Grace (you know where this is going). How will the school newspaper function when Henry can’t even get Grace to talk to him, let alone write articles? *Cue the insertion of manic pixie dream girl*

But wait! That’s not how it goes! As much as it seems like it, Our Chemical Hearts thankfully does not go down that path. Grace used to be popular, social, well-dressed, until tragedy struck her, forcing her to transfer. Henry is obsessed, how could this have happened to her? He’s stuck on her image from before, the Grace from a past he doesn’t know of.

You know what happens instead? He gets reprimanded for it. Which is exactly what I wanted from this book and what I didn’t expect to happen. Sure, both of them share their moments, they bond, but ultimately, this is only a first love. As it should be.

Overall, I was very pleased with how this book turned out. It really wasn’t what I expected at all, plus it had a number of great references, like Bioshock Infinite. Contemporaries should seriously have more references in general, there’s no reason not to (I mean is there?). And this book delves into some serious topics, yet the humor complemented it nicely, making the story more realistic and believable. Although I do believe that fans of John Green would love this, it’s the opposite of a John Green novel. It is everything you expect it not to be.
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