Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Beginning of Everything

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
4/5 stars
Katherine Tegen Books, 2013
335 pages
YA Contemporary

Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.

I feel like I've been waiting for this book for forever as it experienced title and cover changes but it is here now! The first chapter does show very appropriately why it was originally titled Severed Heads, Broken Hearts with a rather graphic description of a decapitation with a young boy catching the head that serves as historical background for the story to come.

Ezra Faulkner was the golden boy-captain of the tennis team, involved in student government, dating the most popular girl in school. Until one night when he is hit by a car, permanently injured and walking with a cane, and abandoned by his so-called friends. The new school year sees him reuniting with Toby, the boy who caught the head so many years ago. More importantly he meets Cassidy Thorpe, refugee from a fancy boarding school, whose every thought and action fascinates Ezra. Spurred by their relationship, Ezra starts to discover himself as a completely different kind of person until tragedy splits the pair up...possibly for good.

This book is like a lot of contemporaries set in high school that don't have a defined plot. I mean, Ezra definitely takes a journey but it's not as defined as a typical fantasy or dystopia might be. What will really make or break this book for you is the writing, I suspect, at least based on reviews I've read. I love Ezra, Cassidy, Toby, and their crowd's way of speaking, filled with intellectual jokes and references to classical literature. From the reviews I've seen, some people were turned off or found it unrealistic. I don't think most people speak like that but I like imagining that we can all be as witty as characters written by skilled authors. I was also thrilled to see Cassidy introduce Ezra to the panopticon, something I studied in college and is basically the only thing I remember from one class.

As far as the plot goes, it moves pretty quickly with the brief flashbacks at the beginning and then picking up through the first day of school moving toward Thanksgiving. There is some mystery around Cassidy, all of which is revealed-it's pretty predictable to be honest but I thought the quirky writing style really shone through this book. That's what I loved, observing in my goodreads status update, and that is what I'll remember as I move forward.

Overall: I would say read an excerpt if you can-if the writing clicks with you, then give the full book a try!

Other Opinions:
Good Books and Good Wine
Once Upon a Prologue
Rather Be Reading
The Flyleaf Review
The Overflowing Library

26 comments:

  1. I'm not sure what to think about this book, but I might take a look at an excerpt somewhere to see how I like it :) Thanks for the review!

    Mel@thedailyprophecy.

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    1. I've never read any John Green but apparently a lot of people have compared the writing and story here to him so if you like JG, you'll probably like this one too.

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  2. Oooo I've been wanting to get my hands on this, and I'm glad you liked it! Tried to get an egalley... but the link wouldn't work D: Anyway, great review!

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    1. It's a fun book-hope you can get a copy soon!

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this one overall. I don't think I've seen a negative review yet.

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    1. Eh I've seen a few who found some elements implausible or who hated the writing but I liked it all.

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  4. I spent a good bit of time thinking that The Beginning of Everything and Severed Heads, Broken Hearts were different books! I think it's being published under the latter title in the UK. It's good to see you enjoyed it overall. I'm definitely curious now and look forward to giving it a try myself. Great review!

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    1. I think it is being published like that in the UK-not sure why the US has the name change as I think the original title is very apropos.

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  5. I am curious about the whole severed head thing. I will probably check it out from the library sometime in case I don't like the writing style. There are certain YA novels that do have characters who seem older than they are, typically those of John Green and David Levithan, etc. Maybe this book would appeal to their fans too.

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    1. That was so creepy but I loved how quickly it was dealt with and then they move on. I've heard from fans of JG that there are a lot of similarities-wish I could compare but haven't picked up a JG book yet.

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  6. I really agree with you there, contemporary YA really doesn't seem to have a defined plot, I feel like the point of the story is almost between the lines. It's great that you appreciated the writing style, it sounds so unique!

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    1. That's something I often love about contemp except for when I don't :)

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  7. I think for me, my enjoyment of this book will depend on the characters. If there's no plot, I need characters I'm invested in to like a story. The super clever thing isn't something I have a particular opinion on, and maybe that will change after reading this book.

    -P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

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    1. I really liked the characters-thought they were fun and interesting to read about so I hope you agree.

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  8. I loved the quirky writing style, too! I had a few small quibbles with this one looking back, but it moved me to the point of tears, and that's my test for if a book deserves my highest rating. I'm glad after all your waiting, you liked it, chica! :)

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    1. I'm glad I liked it too-if not, this review would have been very bitter.

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  9. This book sounds really good and I like the cover:) Thanks for the review!
    -Danna

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    1. Have you seen the other covers though? I thought they were pretty cool if missing the warm bright yellow.

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  10. Awesome review :) I'm glad you enjoyed the book. <3 I tried to read it, but couldn't get into it :( hoping to give it another go soon, though. Thank you for sharing :)

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    1. Do you think it was circumstances or the book? Because if you don't like the writing from the start, it's probably not going to get better.

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  11. Haven't heard of this one til now but it sounds like one I'd enjoy. Nice review :)

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    1. I'm surprised you haven't heard it-I had seen loads of WOWs for it, for example. I hope you give it a chance.

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  12. Funny that people complained about overly witty dialogue when John Green is like the reigning king of YA and that's his schtick... But you know, can't please everyone. ;P Glad you enjoyed this! We were kind of turned off by the mixed reviews, but now you've got us reconsidering.

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    1. I got the feeling that some people felt writing like that is strictly JG's territory...never mind that loads of people might write similarly! Glad I got you to reconsider and hopefully you'll pick it up and like it!

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  13. I LOVED this book. The writing being the thing that impressed me the most of all--so yeah, I agree. If you don't like the John Green-esque approach: witty, intellectual teen-speak, then this book isn't for you. Great review!

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    1. I think that was my favorite too-I found that it went down so easy.

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