Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review: Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu

Title: Life by Committee
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: May 13th 2014 
Pages: 304
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: BEA 2014
Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat.
Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.
Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe.
Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.
But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I loved Corey Ann Haydu's debut, OCD Love Story, and there has been so much buzz for this one, so I had high expectations for Life by Committee. And luckily, those expectations were met completely! Life by Committee is an absorbing and thought-provoking read, and I absolutely loved it.

Tabitha is what I loved most about Life by Committee. I could see how others might object to some of her decisions, but I for one loved her. I could definitely relate to her struggles, and her honesty is what I loved most about Tabitha. She is so open about what she's going through, and... I don't even know how to explain it; there's just something about Tabitha's voice that spoke to me in a very personal way.

The whole idea of the Life by Committee site is so intriguing. I found my feelings about the site mirroring Tabitha's: I was sucked into it just as much as she was, I felt the thrill of completing the assignments, and I wanted Tabitha to keep going and going, even when the assignments get a bit too intense. I absolutely loved the plot twist about the site's members because I totally did not see that coming. (Although there's a small detail about the twist that didn't add up, in my opinion.)

Tabitha's real-life issues are just as fascinating as the website. The romance is dumb and it was obvious to the reader throughout that Joe is an idiot, but it was necessary for this to work, and it felt realistic. The family set-up is very unique, and I loved reading about it, even if I wish there had been a bit more development of that storyline at the end. My favorite part, though, was the strong theme of friendship: the drama between Tabitha and her ex-friends brought up some interesting issues, and I loved reading about her relationship with Elisa, as well as the other friendship that is hinted at towards the end. These different storylines intertwined in masterful ways to create a story that I absolutely loved.

The ending, to be honest, was a bit cheesy. Am I the only one who kept picturing the ending of Mean Girls throughout that entire scene? It totally works in Mean Girls because it's Mean Girls, but I'm not sure it works here. Even though I appreciated the message, the scene felt a bit forced and melodramatic, and I kind of wish there had been a more subtle way to resolve all of this.

Despite the slight melodrama, I absolutely loved Life by Committee. With a strong, honest voice and a story that is both entertaining and thought-provoking, Life by Committee is everything I'd hoped it would be, and more. Tabitha's character spoke to me in a very personal way, so I can't judge how well that would work for other readers, but I still definitely recommend it for the unique and intriguing story.


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