Friday, May 18, 2012

Review: All These Lives by Sarah Wylie

Title: All These Lives
Author: Sarah Wylie
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release date: June 5th 2012
Pages: 256
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: NetGalley
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Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky. She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal. And Jena is wasting away.
To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives. Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one. Someone like Jena. But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization. Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all. Maybe she really only ever had one.
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book really surprised me! I wasn't expecting much, and honestly, the cover is the main reason I read this book. (Underwater covers get me every time.) The idea sounded kind of strange to me, but I thought I'd give it a try anyways. And I'm glad I did - I really enjoyed All These Lives!

I still think the whole idea of the nine lives is kind of strange. I just don't get how you could think something like that, how that could seem like a reasonable way to help someone, and I can't imagine anyone really doing that. But even though that appears to be the main idea of the book - that's what the title refers to; it's the main focus of the description; and the novel is split into parts for each of Dani's 'life' - for me, it wasn't really about the nine lives. It was about Dani.

And Dani, I loved. Oh, Dani. I didn't like her, but I kind of loved her. I know, that doesn't make any sense, but it's true. I don't think I would like her if I knew her in real life - actually, I'm pretty sure she would completely piss me off - but I loved reading from her POV, and I really grew to love her. She's a rude, selfish bitch, but there's just something about her. She's a unique character, always speaks her mind, and says the most ridiculous things. Her sense of humor is random, weird, and quirky, in an awesome way, and she had me laughing out loud. She's not the typical MC I like reading about and relate to, but I loved her.

I also loved the romance. It's not the main storyline by a long shot - which I appreciate, since nothing's worse than forcing romance on a book that doesn't need any - but it's the one I spent the most time obsessing over. I'm pretty sure the romance was written with the sole intent of torturing me. I have two favorite types of love interests: Mysterious Loner Guy and Quiet Nerdy Guy. And this book has both. Which is awesome, but which also means that I had to choose between the two! Which is impossible. I did end up choosing Quiet Nerdy Guy, though - but that might just be because Mysterious Loner Guy mysteriously (ha!) disappears halfway through the book and just doesn't play an important role anymore. But, anyways, I loved the romance, and the chemistry is amazing. I'm not even sure why, since Jack (Quiet Nerdy Guy) is not the best, most complex character or anything like that, but I just loved him with Dani. They are so freaking adorable together! I just wanted to squeal of adorable-ness.

The writing flows nicely, and it's the perfect balance between fun and emotional. Despite the heavy subject matter, this book is pretty light - most of it is humorous and just fun to read. But in between, there are touching, emotional scenes and a few sentences that make you stop and think.

I would have liked some parts to be a little more fleshed out, and I would have liked to know more about some of the secondary characters (why does Mysterious Loner Guy have to suddenly disappear? I want to know more!). I still think the idea is kind of werid, but I also kind of loved this book. It's quirky, unique, and fun, but still touching and emotional when it needs to be. I don't know whether this book is for everyone, since I can definitely see people having a problem with Dani, but I loved her, and I loved this book.

Can you think of any MCs you probably wouldn't like in real life but LOVED reading about?


  1. The first time I saw this, I immediately thought it has something to do with fantasy elements. I don't know why. But whenever I saw underwater covers, I usually incorporate them with fantasy! I know underwater covers are really really pretty. :) Anyway, when I read the synopsis, I thought I was right. HAHA. Since it's about nine lives and all but then I remember, Before I Fall (which I absolutely loved) which is YA contemporary but has a twist. Then I realized maybe it's like that here. I guess I really have to read to know! :)

    Dani sounds a great bitchy character. Sam (Before I Fall) is kind of bitchy too. Seriously, I do not like her at first, but I grew to love her. Maybe I'll love Dani too. ;)

    WAIIIT. Why does the Mysterious Loner Guy just left off in the middle? That sounds a bit of rude. LOL! I totally agree with you. I love those kind of guys. Mysterious Guy and Nerdy Guys. :") Most of the time, I like the Mysterious Guy because of his role in the story. They are always the one who rescue the MC. But I guess the Nerdy Guy here has a better role than the Mysterious Guy.

    I haven't read a book with MC I hate so much. Hmm. Ohh. I remember. I loved reading about Tessa (Before I Die). But I doubt I will in real life. I don't know. But I think she will get really get on my nerves. Other than her, I can't think of any. How about you, Hannah? :)

  2. ha, I assume books are paranormal because of their covers all the time. I've probably missed loads of good books because of making wrong assumptions based on their cover. Oops :p

    I don't wanna tell you too much, but it's something Dani did. It's kind of understandable, since like I said, she's a bitch.There are loads of characters I couldn't stand in real life but loved reading about - I think it works because you get their thoughts and feelings, which means their actions make sense (if it's well done), which makes me understand them better. Some pther books where that was the case was Not That Kind of Girl (Siobhan Vivian) and Rosebush (Michelle Jaffe), and many more that I can't think of right now :p

  3. Oh, and all of Courtney Summers's books!

  4. Oh, I soooo know what you mean when talking about underwater covers. I'm pretty helpless when it comes to them, too. :D

    I haven't read a lot about this one so far, so your review definitely makes me look forward to my eARC much more. :) Huge YAY! for a unique main character.

    Thanks for sharing. Lovely review!

    Fictional Distraction

  5. This sounds like such an original premise!

    I guess the whole 9 lives concept isn't really something paranormal? From the description, it sounds like she doesn't really have so many lives, that it's just in her head. Maybe it's a way for her to cope with her guilt that her sister's ill and she can't do anything about that?

    Maybe her lives are stages of her development, to begin to accept who she is, who she wants to be and to accept that she's a person who deserves a good life. Was there something in her personal history that led her to believe she shouldn't have a good life?

    It will be interesting to see what makes her stop risking her life - although I think it's a person.

    I too totally go for either the lonely mysterious guy or the nerdy guy! If you like nerdy guys, you should try Geek Girl by Cindy Bennett. You'll love Trevor.

    I'm really interested in this book! Your review got me asking lots of questions:)

  6. I didn't really like Jen in Geek Girl in the beginning but she totally grew on me and became a wonderful person. And her bitchiness and cruelty to others was understandable because of what she went through.

  7. It's never really revealed whether she really does have nine lives or whether that's just something she made up. But I didn't even care because Dani alone makes this book worth reading :p

    I'll look up Geek Girl :)

  8. Oh that makes it really interesting!! So it's not a different twist on guilt. 

    You'll love Geek Girl:)

  9. Me too! Dang. I pretty much rely on covers most of the time. 

    Hmm. I wonder what she did. -.- Yeah. You're right about that. Of course, we can't do that in real life. How I wish I can know why bitchy girls act bitchy! 

     I'll look up those books. Thanks, Hannah!

  10. I recently finished this one and really enjoyed it. I also really liked Jack, but found it odd that other characters cropped up at random times, but we didn't always get resolution with them.

    Andrea @ Reading Lark

  11. Everytime I look at this book I keep thinking about Imaginary Girls! From your review I take it - it's not a magic surrealism kinda novel right? I like the fact that it's not heavily focused on romance but I don't really like dark contemporary. Ehhhh I'm kinda on the fence I want to read it but there is a strong chance I won't like it...

  12. Yeah, it reminds me of Imaginary Girls a little, too - but I love any underwater cover :p Umm... I wouldn't classify it as magical realism, no, but I think maybe you could. It's never really revealed whether the MC really does have nine lives or whether that's just something she made up. To me personally, that seemed like something that's just in her head, so for me it isn't magical realism. But if you interpret those nine lives to be real, I guess it would be kinda magical realism-y.

    I think you should give it a try - I wouldn't really call this one a dark contemporary. There's the serious issue of her sister having cancer, but this really isn't a serious book. It's really light and funny, and the cancer isn't the main thing, it's really just about Dani as a character. And since Dani is hilarious, this book is fun to read, and I wouldn't call it a dark book!

  13. I'd seen this cover around and thought it was pretty, but never gotten around to reading up on what it was actually about. All in all, the nine lives thing sounds really interesting. And I'm glad to hear that romance doesn't take center-stage in this novel, too, because it's not really something I look for in YA.

    Thanks for sharing your review!

    Renae @ Respiring Thoughts

  14. I keep scrolling back up to look at the cover, and I will be the first to admit I judge books by their covers.  (And I know I totally shouldn't!)  The storyline seems pretty intriguing and I'm curious as to how she tries to get rid of her extra lives... 


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