Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Review: Crazy by Amy Reed

Title: Crazy
Author: Amy Reed
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release date: June 12th 2012
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: GalleyGrab
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Connor knows that Izzy will never fall in love with him the way he’s fallen for her. But somehow he’s been let into her crazy, exhilarating world and become her closest confidante. But the closer they get, the more Connor realizes that Izzy’s highs are too high and her lows are too low. And the frenetic energy that makes her shine is starting to push her into a much darker place. As Izzy’s behavior gets increasingly erratic and self-destructive, Connor gets increasingly desperate to stop her from plummeting. He knows he can’t save her from her pain… but what if no one else can?
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Crazy is written almost entirely in emails and IM messages, which I didn't know before starting this book. And I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's an original idea, and it gives us a unique insight into Connor and Izzy's relationship. I was worried this format would mean we wouldn't get to know the characters enough in how they really think, since we don't know whether they're being honest or whether they're telling the other person everything. But that part works pretty well - Connor and Izzy are very honest with each other and let the other one what they're thinking. I do think we got to know the characters well, considering the format, which means the author must have done something right.

But... I'm still not sure whether I like the format. Parts of it felt a little contrived to me - the reasons for writing as much in their emails weren't always clear to me. A lot of the book feels too much like normal narrative - writing an email, I'd assume you wouldn't be as descriptive as you'd be writing a novel, and I found how much these emails sounded like normal narrative to be a little unrealistic. The fact that towards the end, there is normal narrative and a few other formats in between the emails also felt contrived to me.

Then there are the characters. Like I said, we do get to know them pretty well, despite the format. Each of them has a distinct and realistic voice. But I still didn't love them. Connor is a pretty average character - he's a nice guy, but not all that special. His wimpy-ness got on my nerves a few times, but I didn't mind him too much. Izzy is very different and unique. I didn't particularly like her, but I don't think you're supposed to. The mental illness aspect is done very well. Izzy's descent into madness is realistic, and at times, downright scary.

Maybe it's because of the format, but I still felt somewhat removed from the story, even though it was interesting to see how her disorder changed Izzy. Honestly, I had a hard time seeing the point of this story. I feel bad for saying that, since I'm definitely not someone who says every book needs to teach us something, or anything like that - a book is just supposed to tell a story. But for me, I didn't really see a point to the story; it didn't touch me in the way I'd hoped it would. I felt like an outsider - I wasn't living inside the story like you do when you're really feeling a book.

Technically, most of this book is very well done. It's a realistic portrayal of bipolar disorder with two interesting characters. But emotionally, personally, Crazy didn't do much for me, and I didn't end up loving this book like I'd hoped I would. Still, if you're looking for an interesting story with a unique style, you should give Crazy a try.

What do you think of unique styles like this one, books written entirely in emails or IM or anything like that? Do you appreciate the originality, or do you think these books don't allow you to get into a character's head the way traditional narrative does?


  1. Hmm. So you mean that Connor and Izzy are bipolar? The synopsis is a little vague for me. Too much description. LOL

    I've read a book with e-mailing format. It was long. But I was able to finish it because the story really caught me. It was an adult contemporary. Anyway, at first, I didn't get into the characters but as I read, they grew on me. I knew them and liked them. I like the idea of these books since it's unique. But I think it depends on how the story is written if ever I'll connect with the characters or not. Maybe for this, the format didn't do well enough. 

    I think the story is quite interesting. Such a sad thing that the format didn't do justice for the story.

  2. Hi Hannaah. Anyway, this is franchie15! :))

  3. No, only Izzy is bipolar - Connor is trying to help Izzy. And I don't think the format neccessarily doesn't do justice to the story; it just didn't work for me.

  4. Oww. Then this one isn't just your cup of tea then. But I take it that the story is interesting for you to actually finish it?

  5. Yeah, I didn't hate it - it was just okay. It kept me interested enough to want to know how it ends. But I don't often DNF books, even when I'm not liking them :p

  6. I see. So curiosity gets the better out of you. :p

  7. This is an interesting way of telling a story, but I wonder if you really get the connection between characters and the depth of the bipolar disorder if you don't see them actually interacting with each other, or if you don't see the highs and lows actually play out. 

    Is there any dialogue in this? To get to see how they talk to each other, or any other nonverbal cues or body language?

    Is this what you mean by there's narrative in the emails, as if they're recounting their days or whatever happened in narrative form?

    The story sounds intriguing, with what should be a very strong message. It's too bad you didn't feel connected to the characters, which is a must in this type of book. 

    Emails and chats and tweets can add humor, but I don't know about the whole story being told by email. Is there any action?

  8. I'm so envious. This book comes out two days after my birthday, and I cannot get it soon enough! I love Amy Reed's other books, and the whole story here completely interests me. It's too bad that the format pulls away from the story, though. It worries me, though that, you think we're not meant to like Izzy. There are already so many books that go out to demonize mentally ill characters, and I hope that's not the case here.

    Agh! I can't wait to read this. It's probably my most eagerly anticipated book of the year. 

  9. I didn't mean that Izzy is some kind of terrible person - she's kind of bitchy to Connor, but what I really meant is that to me, Izzy is a realistic character, but not someone I'd like to spend time with in real life or anything like that. She's actually pretty likeable in the beginning; the mental illness just takes over her life, so we don't get to see much of how she'd be without it anymore later on. And I think the format can definitely work for some people; I personally just had some issues with it. Hope you like it! (better than me :p)

  10. There's no real dialogue or body language or anything like that - just the emails and IMs. Some of the emails are almost like normal narrative, since one character will tell the other one about something that happened to them, so it'll include some dialogue, but none between the two main characters.

    Well, I don't know if I'd call it *action*, but there is quite a lot of stuff going on, yeah. It's about the development of Izzy's mental illness and the stuff she does because of it, as well as Connor's reactions and how he tries to help her.

  11. What's interesting is that despite their not being any action in terms of character interaction, and despite there not being any dialogue had some sort of reaction to the characters, you still got to know them, even if you didn't necessarily like them. I'd guess that's hard to do using the format chosen.

    Thanks for this great review! It's a good analysis of how format affects the reader. 

    I wonder if the author chose this format because she wanted to keep some sort of distance between the reader and the characters? Maybe to just capture thoughts on paper as a way of documenting mental illness. I don't know, I'm just trying to figure out why this format was chosen.

  12. Yeah, some of it is really well done, since you do get to know the characters pretty well - and I didn't hate the book! For me, 3 stars is still pretty good! My rating system is more or less:

    5: amazing
    4: great
    3: good2: okay1: badLots of people assume my review is negative if I gave the book 3 stars, but it really isn't :)I'm not sure either why she chose this format, other than trying something new and seeing whether she could get a different format to work...

  13. Have you read Bram Stoker's Dracula? That's in epistolary form too, and there are other contemporary books that work well like this. The thing is the contemporary books don't rely on emails and messages. It's really good you still connected with the characters and could understand her downward spiral when all you had were emails.

  14. I haven't heard of that one, but I'll check it out! I've actually read a few books in formats like this one, and they really can work, which in itself I find kind of amazing.

  15. I like different formats as well, but I like it interspersed with regular narrative:)

  16. So sorry to hear you didn't like this as much as you could have! I haven't read it yet, but I absolutely adored Reed's debut, Beautiful.

    Thanks for the honest review.

  17. This book doesn't strike. I'm all for contemporary but I don't like books that explore deep stuff like ...bipolar-ism? And the whole idea of the whole book written in e-mail format sounds messy. I like dialogue and it just seem weird if a book doesn't have it you know???? Great review though. Your reviews are always honest and thorough :)

  18. Bipolar disorder ;) Yeah, I get that. I think a format like this can work, but it didn't work with this story, for me. Thank you :)

  19. Bipolar disorder ;) Yeah, I get that. I think a format like this can work, though - it just didn't work for this story, for me. Thank you!! :)

  20. Thanks for the honest review. 
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  21. My teen daughter just finished reading (and really enjoyed!) an eBook called Hear by Jacqueline Abelson. Great plot, interesting characters and a real message of self– empowerment. Here’s the link:



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