June 9, 2015
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Stella Cross's heart is poisoned.I think I am one of maybe five people that Alive just did. not. work for. I liked Stella in the very, very beginning of the story - prior to her surgery - but not after.
After years on the transplant waiting list, she's running out of hope that she'll ever see her eighteenth birthday. Then, miraculously, Stella receives the transplant she needs to survive.
Determined to embrace everything she came so close to losing, Stella throws herself into her new life. But her recovery is marred by strange side effects: Nightmares. Hallucinations. A recurring pain that flares every day at the exact same moment. Then Stella meets Levi Zin, the new boy on everyone's radar at her Seattle prep school. Stella has never felt more drawn to anyone in her life, and soon she and Levi are inseparable.
Stella is convinced that Levi is her soul mate. Why else would she literally ache for him when they are apart?
After all, the heart never lies...does it?
I understood her desire to start fresh, be a new version of herself after her surgery. After being sick - nearly dying - for two months, she wanted to no longer be the 'sick girl,' to not be boring or go unnoticed. She wanted to changer herself.
But, in doing so, she alienated her friends and was a character I disliked.
Stella's heart transplant felt more like something that needed to happen for the rest of the story to happen, for her to have a personality shift than like something that had really happened to her character. She seemed to recover remarkably quickly - especially considering how long she had been ill or not in top form - and she never seems to have things you would expect effected. She can't do anything too strenuous, but she quickly gets back to school, attends parties and goes out.
She also drinks and eats crap (like Doritos, mentioned several times) and I thought heart transplant recipients had to follow a healthy diet?
Stella's relationship with Levi doesn't have the 'soon' that the summary mentions, it's all but, 'instantly.' Levi is all she can think about, the only one she seems to care about and she always, always wants him around.
With Stella's nightmares and hallucinations, it was hard to be sure if Levi and their relationship were as horribly wrong as it seemed to me, as a reader. It was one time when I wished the story had been something other than third person. I would have liked to see what someone else thought of him - and them. (We do get a small bit of that later, which I liked.)
The last third or so of the book is where there's a bit of genre shift and the action moves beyond 'Stella and Levi,' and was the part of the book I liked best, by far. Stella's character and the whole novel were more readable at that point and, with the relationship no longer the primary thing, I was more drawn into the story.
Author Chandler Baker has some similes and metaphors that were nicely done, giving a better picture of what you're reading. I also liked Brynn's character; she's honest, she knows who she is and doesn't really care if that fits in the 'expected' and she wasn't afraid to try to tell Stella the truth. I wish there had been more of her character.
If the story had not been so focused on Stella and Levi's relationship or if there had been more of an outside narrator and if Stella's life post-transplant had felt more true, I may have liked it more. This one just really wan't for me but there was enough in the writing that I know I'll check out what the author publishes next.
Other Books You Might Also Enjoy: The Forgetting by Nicole Maggi and This is How it Ends by Jen Nadol
digital galley received for review thanks to publisher