Sunday, November 7, 2010

Review: You by Charles Benoit

Author: Charles Benoit
Publisher: Harper Collins
Series: N/A
Pages: 223
Genre: Fiction
Release Date: August 24, 2010
How Received: ARC tours

This wasn’t the way it was supposed to go.

You’re a typical fifteen-year-old sophomore, an average guy named Kyle Chase. This can’t be happening to you. But then, how do you explain all the blood? How do you explain how you got here in the first place?

There had to have been signs, had to have been some clues it was coming. Did you miss them, or ignore them?

Maybe if you can figure out where it all went wrong, you can still make it right. Or is it already too late?

Think fast, Kyle. Time’s running out. How did this happen?

My Thoughts:
Devastating. That’s how I can sum this book up. I just finished the book and all I feel is empty inside. I’m not quite sure how I even want to rate it right now.

At first it was hard to get into because of the use of second-person narrative. This was my first book that used second-person point of view, so it was difficult for me to get into it. After a while, though, the narrative grew on me. The second-person narrative was refreshing and unique, and the prose was absolutely wonderful. I loved the way Charles would play on the words when addressing you.

What made me feel so strongly about this book is the connection I made with Kyle. I was able to relate to his character most of the time, because I know what it’s like going from straight A’s/good grades to basically flunking every class; I know how it is to lose friends because you no longer fit into their status quo; I know what it’s like having everything I held in esteem stripped away from me. And essentially, this is what happens with Kyle: he had a great life, he had friends, he had motivation. This book explores where he “went wrong” and when the change in which he went from “that Kyle” to “this Kyle” occurred. It goes through all of the events that could have prevented his death (which isn’t a spoiler, as it’s stated on the front page/back of the book) had he chose different decisions.

The sad part about this book, however, is that he chose to act too late. He realized all the mistakes he could have corrected, all the things he could have done, and his true potential too late. Suddenly things mattered for him and he wanted to make a permanent change to his life and become active again, and yet that was all stripped away in the blink of an eye.

This book came across as existential to me – not so much on the absurdity, depending on how you interpret it, but rather on Kyle’s inability to give his own life meaning and the alienation and boredom he suffered. It read similarly to J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (although I loved Salinger’s work a lot more) in regards to tone and personality. Kyle’s imminent death is revealed straight off the bat, which sets off the mood as very melancholy, and his voice always seemed separate and disengaged from the world around him.

Cover Musings: Like many covers lately, I didn’t interpret it too closely. I thought the big red “U” was only a “U” – it’s not. It’s shattered, it’s red, and it’s glass for a reason. I could get technical and interpret the cover closely, but I’ll just leave my newbie rating on aesthetics. I personally like the cover and what it represents.

Memorable Quotes:
“It’s important to keep in mind that you have control over your year,” Ms. Ortman is saying. “If you don’t like the direction your life is going”—and now you’re positive she’s looking at you—“then you have the power to change it. If you’re not happy where you’re at, figure out where you want to be and make it happen.” (pg. 12)
Every day you get up, go to school, fake your way through your classes, come home, get hounded about your homework, go online, fake your way through your homework, go to bed—and the next day you get to do it all over again. (pg. 13)
There’s always a but.
It’s a magical word. You can say anything you want, go on for as long as you want, and then all you have to do is add the magic word and instantly everything you said is erased, turned meaningless, just like that. (pg. 29)
There’s something about the way she moves, the way she keeps her eyes on the doughnut, that tells you she’s as uncomfortable with this as you are.
When did that start? One day you were sitting on her lap playing Candy Land, the next you were a couple of strangers living in the same house, a reality show that’s stumbling along until it’s canceled. It’s not that you don’t love her anymore, it’s just that everything’s changed. But you’re not sure how yet, and neither is she. That’s why it’s so strange. (pg. 103-104)

Overall Thoughts/Final Comments: You is devastating, powerful, intense, and apathetic. This book has a number of meaningful messages, most notably that the choices you make essentially make up you. I was able to enjoy this book a lot more because I could connect and empathize with Kyle on most levels. It was disheartening to watch his life spiral out of his control and further and further down the path of destruction. This book is admittedly not for everybody, especially if you haven’t been exposed to the consequential actions and decisions Kyle makes, but it was a very good read. Try it out, you might like it!

Rating: 4/5

**I received this ARC from Good Golly Miss Holly’s ARC tours! (Thank you Holly!)
***This review was submitted in the 2010 Debut Author Challenge!


Kate @Midnight Book Girl said...

Great review! I'd seen some buzz about this book before, but your post made me add the book to my wish list. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Wow, this was a very powerful review. The cover alone I find very intriguing and your thoughts have me wondering if I'd love this book or not, so that means it has to be on my TBR list!

Midnyte Reader said...

That was a great review and the book sounds interesting...but it seems you have to be really prepared before you read it.

Unknown said...

I've been wanting to read You for a while now. I don't think I've read any books in the second pov... Great review Kristina :D

Oh yeah, definitely check out Nomansland by Lesley Hauge ;)

Hafsah @ IceyBooks

Kristina Barnes♥ said...

@Kate: I'm glad my review made you put this on your wish list! That makes me really happy, actually! I hope you get to check it out. :)

@Jen: I honestly thought the cover didn't mean much the first time I saw it. My inital thought was "big red U? Honestly?" So I felt compelled to mention on my cover section that it's much more than a big red U. I hope you pick it up. :)

@Midnyte Reader: Yeah, probably. This is not a happy book. At. All. There was comic relief in the form of Zach, but aside from that, the book made me feel very apathetic.

@Hafsah: I've never read any books in the second pov before this, either. It was bizarre - takes a while to get used to. xP I hope you get a chance to read this. <3

bibliophile brouhaha said...

This sounds amazing - I am going to get it right after I get through my current list.


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