First Lines: On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s Laws of Motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road.
This was an impulse-grab at the library. It was on my to-read list, yes, but I just needed one more book and I decided to try this. (Having the author’s name start with a Z may also have impacted this decision. Why? Because I’m weird.)
Liz Emerson had most things going for her in life. She was one of the most popular girls in school. But inside, Liz feels like she’s falling apart. She begins to realize how she’s impacted the lives of those around her…and so many times, she’s hurt them. How do we impact others? How do we change their lives? What does it mean to be loved?
I want to begin by saying that this is a YA book for mature readers. I’m 24, and there were times where I didn’t feel mature enough to be reading this. There are so many heavy topics in this book. Sex, drugs (the really bad ones), hard-core partying, and obviously suicide. (There’s also a lot of language in this book. Be prepared for that.) I had the misfortune of reading this during a particularly rough week at my job as well as during the Virginia reporter shooting. I spent two days on the verge of tears at all times.
The blurb on Goodreads says this is good for fans of Jay Asher (Thirteen Reasons Why) and Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall). It’s been a while since I’ve read either one of those books, but this was far darker than Oliver’s book. I’d admit that it’s very similar in tone to Asher’s, but I still thought this was darker.
Actually, Liz is a dark character. She’s troubled to the core. She becomes popular because she’s mean to other kids. She’s mean because there’s nobody at home to tell her not to be, so she acts out and makes others as miserable as she is. Then she feels miserable and the cycle continues. Liz is nobody’s role model.
I don’t even think we’re supposed to like Liz by the end of the story. I certainly didn’t. But I think we’re supposed to understand her. It’s certainly hard to like someone who knows that their actions are actually ruining lives. She has evidence to back up that she has destroyed people. It’s awful. And I can’t like a person who knowingly does that. But I can understand them.
I will say that the narration of this story was unexpected. (I’m not going to spoil who the narrator is, but it’s not Liz.) It was interesting, though. The narrator does bounce around to other characters so we can understand what everyone who was affected by Liz’s drive off the highway is doing and going through, but it always returns to the narrator. It really hammered home the consequences of suicide.
Overall, I thought the writing style was interesting and engaging, but the story itself was too dark for me.