My disease is as rare as it is famous. Basically, I’m allergic to the world. I don’t leave my house, have not left my house in seventeen years. The only people I ever see are my mom and my nurse, Carla.
But then one day, a moving truck arrives next door. I look out my window, and I see him. He’s tall, lean and wearing all black—black T-shirt, black jeans, black sneakers, and a black knit cap that covers his hair completely. He catches me looking and stares at me. I stare right back. His name is Olly.
Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.
Oh dear, this is such a frustrating book to talk about .. and review. It is the sort of book where there is a big surprise towards the end that explains quite a few things which happened throughout the book(so it is hard to write a nice non-spoilery take on the book).
This book was strangely addictive to read despite some of the issues I had with it. I totally dug the adorable Olly and Madeline moments. But, it gets kind of weird and silly in the second half when huge and reckless decisions are made.. which doesn’t even make any kind of realistic sense for teens who are still in high-school and don’t have any jobs or source of income (where do they get all the money?!!!). Btw, that’s another thing I didn’t understand – why are both are still in school? Shouldn’t they be in college? Madeline is 18, Olly is 18 or older , and both are described as conscientious with their school work. So, it isn’t like they flunked a year or anything of that sort.
I think one big reason I was underwhelmed is because I guessed the big twist pretty early. Take that away, and there feels like nothing spectacular about the rest of this book. There is a lot of cute touches – Madeline’s spoilery book blog reviews, her drawings, IM chats with Olly, e-mails.. But no amount of embellishments can cover up some of the book’s basic weaknesses. Just like no amount of pretty icing can salvage a badly baked cake. The plot twist, though it explains a few things, also made me wonder about a lot of other things (so, basically opening up more plot holes). The ending was just weird and unreal, and unbelievably “easy” for Madeline who has lived her entire life in a bubble, with her nurse and mom being the only other human contacts.
Despite my low ratings, I would still recommend you give it a try, because it is just one of those books that evoke mixed reactions. There are a lot of good things about it too, so maybe it will strike a chord with you… Check out Trang’s positive take on the book here
Note : I received an ARC of this book via Michele’s blog giveaway. Do check out her lovely blog here.
Ever since the Titans first appeared in her Detroit neighborhood, Astrid Sullivan’s world has revolved around the mechanical horses. She and her best friend have spent countless hours watching them and their jockeys practice on the track. It’s not just the thrill of the race. It’s the engineering of the horses and the way they’re programmed to seem so lifelike. The Titans are everything that fascinates Astrid, and nothing she’ll ever touch.
She hates them a little, too. Her dad lost everything betting on the Titans. And the races are a reminder of the gap between the rich jockeys who can afford the expensive machines to ride, and the working class friends and neighbors of Astrid’s who wager on them.
But when Astrid’s offered a chance to enter an early model Titan in this year’s derby, well, she decides to risk it all. Because for a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, it’s more than a chance at fame or money. Betting on herself is the only way she can see to hang on to everyone in the world she cares about.
I really liked the idea – a futuristic sports drama involving mechanical horses – but that’s just about it. This packed in pretty much every cliché you can expect – an underdog (and of course, it is a teenage girl), a grumpy mentor, a best friend with a fashion sense that the protagonist doesn’t have, sneering elite competitors and officials who hate you. There is even a Hunger Games inspired (?) drama revolving sponsors and playing to the media by selling romance. Sadly, even that felt like a pale imitation and you are wondering why that was even included. It was just so random – a fellow competitor just suddenly indulging in PDA with Astrid, catching her unaware, just for the photographers and journalists to capture and write about. It felt like some half-hearted idea or sub-plot that was ditched half-way through the book – and that wasn’t the only one.
I love sports drama and rooting for the underdog. I understand that there is a “basic template” and you know what to expect and what the end result will be. But, I just wanted a few surprises thrown in. I wanted something more to happen on the sidelines of the actual races. Because, as thrilling as these racing might be in the form of a movie or a television show, it is just hard to visualize them and feel the same excitement by reading through pages and pages of description of each race. It is even harder if you are someone like me – who is pretty bad in understanding and appreciating the physics and mechanics of vehicles.
I am not exactly complaining about the details included – in fact I appreciate the author’s focused attempt to tell a story about racing and the families set to ruin if they aren’t careful about being swept in the adrenaline of placing bets. But I just wish there was more to the secondary characters and plots than the very in-your-face poor v/s rich stereotypical posturing. Then, there is also a feeble attempt at building up a mystery over what happened to Astrid’s grandfather and why she feels guilty about her part in it.
I could go on and on and list everything about the characters and plots that felt incomplete and superficial. Right from being hammered over our heads with the fact that Astrid’s family is falling apart and only she can save it; to all the people who are given some sort of “mysterious” background information to make them interesting (but they just feel like missed opportunities to have fleshed them out better)
It was a fast read and I think as a movie it would make a really good visual spectacle. But, as a book, there is nothing much that held my attention in terms of the larger cast of characters.