In celebration of the 18 Thoughts release two weeks ago (and the blog tour hosted by Curiosity Quills), I will be reviewing the first book in the series: 18 Things.
Almost two years ago (exactly), I talked about the release of 18 Things and I wrote down my own bucket list (which can be found here) and now after reading this book, I’m inspired to take a look at the things I want to do, not just “someday” but in the reachable future. But now, we talk about this books and fabulousness of it.
Can eighteen things save a life? Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name (after her grandmothers of course) and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten. Then Conner is killed in a freak accident and Olga feels responsible. The sarcastic, nerdy girl who never missed a day of school is suddenly lost and unable to deal with the emotional pain. When she downs an entire bottle of pain pills, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled 18 Things. Eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday.
Olga enlists the help of her friends and becomes a catalyst for healing in their own lives as they eagerly offer suggestions. All she has to do is fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record, and err . . . go on her first date. Good thing Nate, a new hottie in town, enters her life with perfect timing. He brings the fun factor to her list and helps her discover the beauty and strength inside herself, then complicates things by falling in love with her. Maybe it’s time to put into practice the lessons her list has taught her.
Cliff notes version: Olga is your typical nerdy teenager with a huge crush on her best friend. Said best friend dies and she blames herself, spiraling her towards a series of events (including a hot guy, rabid otters, and cantankerous monkeys) that help her not only move on with her life but start to really live for herself.
Seems pretty touchy feely, and normally I would role my eyes but secretly love it. This time, there’s no eye rolling. While there were some clichés befitting a YA Drama, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Our main character takes a literal roller coaster ride of emotions throughout this story and the author’s use of the first person narrative took us on that journey with her.
Meaning I had to grab for a tissue more than once but I also got stares from people on the bus when I would randomly laugh out loud.
Olga was true to her emotions, she felt deeply, and she reacted just as strongly which I really admired – though some of her language rubbed me the wrong way because (get this) I thought she was too gentle with her language. But she was true to her character – and to the world that the author created for her. This is a world where your mother makes you listen to recordings of sermons on a road trip with your friends. This is a world where guys can attack a girl at a party and he’ll get told off with a warning. But this is also a world of second chances and everyday miracles so while I didn’t always like what was going on, it was consistent and entertaining.
My favourite thing about it was that the story just kept moving forward. Olga has a lot of things going on and her inner monologue is literally enough to fill a novel but the narrative just keeps chugging along. It would have been so easy to sink into the depression that we find ourselves in so early on in the book but then magically, things start happening and we get to see firsthand how Olga moves on with her life. Yes, she remembers her loss and yes, her emotions can rise and fall quite suddenly…almost like a human being who has experienced loss. Crazy.
But speaking of crazy: Nate. I fell in love with Nate fairly quickly – almost as quickly as Olga. I kind of wanted to see more of him. Yes, we know some of his backstory and our main character can guess at his emotions but there were so many times when I wanted to just walk up to him, shake him, and say: “what are you really feeling?”
A lot of my Random Notes While Reading were more emotion-based but those are fun, too, right?
· If you’re going to start a book, start with hot guys
· Of course it’s the best friend
· Oh, ow, my heart…I wasn’t expecting that
· *slow clap* I always worry about first person character descriptions; well done
· Oh, this bitch, I hate these girls
· This is making me very emotional, I commend you
· Seriously, I feel like I’m absorbing Olga’s guilt and it’s killing me
· Who doesn’t like Zac Efron look-a-likes?
· That guess was too specific, young man
· Wow, you really are attracted to this guy
· I’m not tearing up, you are!
· I do get frustrated with stories that perpetuate the notion that tragedy is the push you need to “start living”
· STOP THAT! I had a feeling you would do that but stop!
· Justified. I would have slapped her, too
· It’s not uncommon to prematurely blow white sticky stuff everywhere but in public?
. Sorry, I couldn’t resist
· I love when books call out their own clichés
· Dude, I don’t care how hot you are, you do not hit on a girl at her best friend’s wake
· I get it, he’s like the replacement/reincarnation
· Ah yes, the angst teen blog
· Of course
· Wow, thanks mom
· *snickers* “ta-tas”? That word makes me giggle
· Whoa, dude, no
· Did you just forget about the girl with the ta-tas?
· See that’s not the series I would have gone with but I’m selfish
· I took the liberty of checking out her blog – someone has taken it!
· I don’t know what it is about Bucket Lists but even I want to take another look at mine
· Sweetie, duh
· Nate, you’re awesome; I wish I knew more about you
· Seriously, as much as I’m coming down on this story a bit, I’m totally in love; we’re not dwelling on the darkness but we’re not forgetting either, it’s really hitting home
· Please stop denying it – as adorable as it is
· If it’s not, can I date him
· I would totally do that – I have done that with a potato peeler
· How are you this awesome?
· I laughed out loud. Halloween.
· Please, you’re 18
· The author has done this a few times: A question, then the narrative digresses, then the answer comes so I have to go back and reread
· “Darn Tootin’”
· Hello, Pot
· Cheesy but sweet
· I’m not…okay I’m crying a little
· Her speech made me giggle
· I need to take a walk
· Oh, that makes her relationship with her mom so sad
· Okay…that happened…
So, boys and girls, you know what comes next. I’m excited to read the next chapter in the lives of these characters but while I’m off doing that, you can start from the beginning with 18 Things and then move on to 18 Truth and finally there’s 18 Thoughts.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a bucket list to write. What are your 18 Things?