Never Eighteen

First Lines: I had the dream again.  The one where I’m running.  I don’ know what from or where to, but I’m scared–terrified, really.  I wake drenched in sweat.  Jumping out of bed, I immediately head to my computer.

Apparently, I’m a complete sap when it comes to books about teenagers who know they’re gonna die.  Which is really odd, honestly, given my optimistic outlook on things.  Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to them.  I don’t know.  I just know that I keep finding them.

Austin knows he’s never going to see his eighteenth birthday.  He’s known this for a while, actually.  So Austin plans to give his friends and family the one thing he can’t have himself: a life to live.

Really, that’s like the whole summary, right there.  90% of the book is Austin trying to be Mr. Fix-It with everyone else’s relationships and lives.  He spends one weekend going from house to house, friend to friend, trying to get them out of whatever rut they may happen to be in.  Most of the time, it’s some kind of relational conflict, like a mother and daughter who never talk anymore.  He wants to make them happy before he dies.

It was an admirable try, but I think the book fell a little flat and short of its mark.  It’s only 200 pages, so everything was condensed to begin with.  On top of that, I just couldn’t sink into the story.  I couldn’t get a good feel for the characters or the setting.  There was nothing about Austin’s appearance until halfway through the book and you don’t even find out what exactly he’s sick with until the last 20 pages or so.  It was just frustrating that Austin seemed…almost better than everyone else.  Not quite “holier than thou” but close sometimes, even with all the mistakes he made.

I just didn’t really like it.  Every chapter was short and every chapter focused on a different person or conflict Austin was trying to help or get through.  It gave it a choppy feel that I wasn’t particularly fond of.

There are so many other cancer-themed books that tackle this so much better.  The Probability of Miracles, The Fault in our Stars, etc.

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