Friday, March 23, 2012

Review: Never Eighteen by Megan Bostic

Title: Never Eighteen
Author: Megan Bostic
Publisher: HMH Children's Books
Release date: January 17th 2012
Pages: 204
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: Bought
Find out more: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads description:
I had the dream again. The one where I’m running. I don’t know what from or where to, but I’m scared, terrified really.
Austin Parker is never going to see his eighteenth birthday. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t even see the end of the year. But in the short time he has left there’s one thing he can do: He can try to help the people he loves live—even though he never will. It’s probably hopeless. But he has to try.
First sentence:
I had the dream again.

My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I made a mistake reading Never Eighteen so shortly after reading John Green's The Fault in Our Stars. Both have MCs with cancer, and with just a week in between reading the two books, I couldn't help but compare. And while Never Eighteen is an okay book, it just can't live up to how amazing The Fault in Our Stars is.

I couldn't really connect to Austin. We jump right into the action, and immediately go on Austin's journey with him. I think I would have preferred a longer introduction, to first read about Austin's life in general before starting the actual story. The way it is, I never felt like I really got to know Austin. There's a lot of dialogue and not all that much description, and I would have liked to know more about Austin's thoughts and emotions. Even though we have a first-person narrative, I don't feel the reader really got to be inside his head, to understand him as a person. I just didn't get him - his personality, his emotions, or his motivations. And since I couldn't connect with Austin, I couldn't really get into the story - I didn't cry once, and it's usually guaranteed I'll cry like a baby while reading a book dealing with a topic like this.

I also found it kind of strange how strong, how heroic the portrayal of Austin is towards the end. This may just be because The Fault in Our Stars - I don't want to get into it to much, but there's a scene in that book addressing critically how cancer kids are portrayed as heroes - but it doesn't seem realistic how strong Austin is. He doesn't break down or cry once, and he doesn't seem scared of dying at all. I know I can't really judge that because, well, if he can handle dying so well, that's good, but I just don't know how realistic it is that he's always only thinking of how this will affect the poeple close to him and never once worries about what will happen to him when he dies.

I really liked the idea of Austin going around talking to people about their issues, trying to make them see they've only got one life and should make the best of it. But the whole thing just isn't fleshed-out enough for me. We get to see each of the people Austin tries to help once, some of them twice, and there's just a few pages for each character. I just wanted there to be more. All of those characters are interesting, have interesting issues I would have liked known more about, but we don't stay long enough with any of them to really find out about their lives and issues.

One thing I liked is the family's story. I liked reading about his parents and what Austin does to help them. Their story is interesting and I like how it fits together in the end.

The romance aspect is okay. I liked the way Kaylee and Austin interact, for the most part, but that whole storyline is too predictable and overused. If I had know more about the characters, their past and their relationship, I might have liked it better, but the way it is, that storyline isn't fleshed-out enough for me, either.

I really like the idea of Never Eighteen, but I found the execution lacking. I just wanted more - more depth to Austin's character, more time spent getting to know each of the secondary characters, more feeling, more everything. Like I said, though, my disappointment might have something to do with just having read The Fault in Our Stars, since Never Eighteen pales in comparison.

If you've read this book, what did you think?


  1. I've heard mixed reactions about this one. It never really called to me to read it so I'm not sure I ever will it seems like it should be a super deep, profound read but it's just not. Lovely review!!

    Xpresso Reads

  2. Most of the people that I know loved this book,but I certainly appreciate your take on it.  I haven;t read it, yet, but I probably will eventually.

  3. Melissa Torres-VasquezMarch 24, 2012 at 3:04 AM

    It seems this one that you will either love or hate. I am looking forward to reading this, hopefully I fare better with it.  

  4. I think reading TFIOS affected you with this book, like you said. But it's not your fault- it's like eating your favorite food from your favorite restaurant and then ordering the same in another place; it won't taste the same.

    When you can't connect with a character, it just makes the book that much harder to enjoy and add to that TFIOS.

    Have you heard/watched The Buried Life? (MTV)? It's about these guys that made a list of things they wanted to do before they died (they aren't sick though) and you see them in the "quest" to cross-off that thing on their list and they help someone else along the way.

  5. Yeah, I just feel bad for the book, since it might have gotten a better review if I'd read it at a different time. Oh well...

    No, haven't heard of that! Maybe I'll check it out :)


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