Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Author: Adam Silvera
Publisher: Soho Teen
Publication Date: June 2, 2015
In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.
In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard? (Cover and synopsis from Goodreads.)
I was all over the place with my feelings for More Happy Than Not. I was excited that it was kind of a book version of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (although it is different) and super happy that it was a book with a queer person of color as its protagonist, and had several other people of color throughout the book. I loved that Aaron loved comic books, and I loved his girlfriend, Genevieve, and her artwork. And I loved that this book was set in the Bronx.
But then there were some other things that I didn’t love. Some of them were reconciled at the end, but some of them weren’t. For example, I know WHY the phrase “no homo” was used, but I don’t think it was ever admonished by any of the characters in this book. And the phrase was used SO MUCH that I started counting every time it was said. (My count: it was said at least 13 times.) I just really, really hate that phrase and like I said, I understand why it was used. I get that sometimes offensive things need to be said in books to show how wrong they are, but I never saw anyone say, “Hey, that phrase is really very offensive and you should stop saying it,” or anything remotely close to condemning that phrase, and I really think that should have happened.
But then there was just so much to love about this book. The characters, the beautiful phrases throughout, the added twist at the end, etc. It all added up to a story that I really enjoyed, even though I had some issues within the story itself.
Silvera gets some of my Bonus Points for the following reasons:
- Aaron saying that Chemistry (as a school subject) “can go in a corner and melt in hydrochloric acid forever.” = 50,000 points
- Star Wars references = 50,000 points
- Transformers reference (I’m going to assume he means the comic books and/or awesome cartoons and NOT the horrible live-action movies.) = 50,000 points
- The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference = 50,000 points
- The Hobbit reference = 25,000 points
- Game of Thrones references = 25,000 points
Disclaimer: I borrowed a copy of this book from my library. I was in no way compensated for this review.
LisaOctober 25, 2015 at 8:40 pm
I had the same take on the book as you…..there were a couple downsides, but there was so much to love. I recently had the chance to meet Silvera in person, and he is an absolutely wonderful and delightful person if you ever get the chance yourself. He shared so much of his own story, and it helps to understand his writing a little better.