Monday, June 27, 2016

Review: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone by Adele Griffin

Title: The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone
Author: Adele Griffin
Publisher: Soho Teen
Release date: August 12th 2014
Pages: 256
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source:  I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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National Book Award-finalist Adele Griffin tells the fully illustrated story of a brilliant young artist, her mysterious death, and the fandom that won't let her go.
From the moment she stepped foot in NYC, Addison Stone’s subversive street art made her someone to watch, and her violent drowning left her fans and critics craving to know more. I conducted interviews with those who knew her best—including close friends, family, teachers, mentors, art dealers, boyfriends, and critics—and retraced the tumultuous path of Addison's life. I hope I can shed new light on what really happened the night of July 28.
—Adele Griffin
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

To be honest, I didn't realize this book was fiction after I had finished it and looked it up. While reading, I was convinced Addison Stone was a real person, and even when something seemed far-fetched, I didn't mind because I thought it was all true. I don't know if that means I'm gullible or that the book is just really well-done, or maybe some of both. 

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone is written entirely in interviews with people who knew Addison. This sounds like something I wouldn't enjoy at all; sounds too formal and like it wouldn't have enough of a narrative for my tastes. But it works surprisingly well. Even though they sound like real interviews (albeit edited by a better writer), they are organized in such a way that they actually tell a story. The writing is what makes it work; it's gripping and reads quickly, and I didn't want to put the book down.

The characters are fascinating. Even though she's never actually present in the novel, Addison has an energy that jumps off the page and made me want to know everything about her. At times, I thought her perfection and instant fame were overdone, but it makes sense within the framework of the book. I also loved Lulu, Addison's best friend from home, and all the characters she meets on the NYC art scene.

Finding out none of this is actually really afterwards kind of changed my perspective. On the one hand, it makes me more critical of things like Addison being too unrealistically brilliant and instantly famous. But on the other hand, it adds another dimension to the story. Adele Griffin is writing about a fictional Adele Griffin who did all of this research on Addison Stone. And since fictional Adele Griffin says she briefly met Addison on one of the classes she taught and became obsessed with finding out everything about her after her death, of course all the interviews are influenced by her own obsession, so this could work as a reason for why Addison so idealized in the story. The real Adele Griffin commenting on fictional Adele Griffin's one-sided perspective on Addison adds a whole new layer of complexity to the novel.

I've read a lot of negative reviews for this one explaining how they couldn't get past how much of a cliche Addison is, being so exaggeratedly beautiful and talented. And she definitely is, but I didn't really mind because she is so mesmerizing, and the unique format makes sure this book is far from cliched. Strange, fascinating, and unique, I really enjoyed The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone, and I recommend it to anyone who's looking for something new and different.


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