Kindle Price: $2.99
Official Rating: 1/5
“You think you know your mum and dad. But you don’t. My name is Coral and I’m fifteen years old. One photograph changed my life. Without the photo I would never have met Tilly, the nastiest girl in the school or had my first fight. Without the photograph I would never have met and lost Joel, the fittest boy on the planet. Without the photograph I would never have flown an eagle owl or sang in a rock band. And without the photograph I wouldn’t be crouching on a sheepskin rug soaked with blood, looking up into the barrel of a shotgun. And it’s not true what they say. THE CAMERA DOES LIE. This is my story but it could so easily be yours.”
I wish I had something to compare this book to so that everyone could understand how painful it was to read it, but I don’t. Hopefully, the rest of my review will clear everything up.
Actually, I do have an analogy. Once, I watched a video where a guy put two-hundred (200) pieces of gum in his mouth and then proceeded to chew it. Not to be too graphic, but there was saliva cascading out of his mouth, he couldn’t close his mouth, and the gum was a disgusting mess. In two words, I could describe two-hundred pieces of gum and this book: Too Much.
The synopsis. Completely misleading, especially this part: “This is my story but it could so easily be yours.” Don’t quote me, but I’m pretty sure that the probability of someone having the same life as Coral in You Made Me “easily” is around a 1/100,000,000,000. Make no mistake, everything in the synopsis does occur in the novel, the issue is that it makes you think this book will be interesting. That’s why it is misleading.
The main character, Coral Matthews, was empty. I don’t mean in the “I feel like I have no purpose” type of empty; I mean the “Is this what is supposed to realistically represent the female teenagers in our society?” empty. The whole truth, and nothing but the truth, is that Coral is one of the worst characters I have come upon. She wasn’t clever, had no brains, “acted out” in the name of being a teenager, wasn’t interesting, was quite rude to multiple people without reason, and was just…awful. I’m not saying she is impossible to love…I just don’t see what reasons the people around her could give as to why anyone could. Is that harsh? Probably. To give an example without spoiling anything, Coral ends up having to leave a place that she’s made many friends in. Instead of talking to said friends or at least thinking about her response beforehand, she responds by lashing out at everyone because “it’s better this way.” (Cliche line, by the way) Or another example, a certain person is told very important information for the first time with Coral present. Instead of thinking to herself, “Wow, I didn’t know you didn’t know that. We’re both in shock,” Coral decides that that certain person has blatantly lied to them. She screams, “You lied to me! I hate you, I HATE YOU!” How does that make sense? If Jane is chatting to Jack about her new dog and Austin walks up and tells Jane that her dog just died, is Jack entitled to call her a liar? What has Jane lied about? How do you lie about information you don’t know yet? Final excerpt from the story, Coral is angry at a certain person for not making the attempt to contact her, even though Coral is the one who has actually done wrong. Coral’s response? “I am still angry, very angry after all these years but I needed to know the truth, you can’t blame me for trying can you?” If I were in this novel, I would most definitely blame her, but instead, the person she’s talking to does not in order to continue this poorly thought out plot.
What was the plot? What a wonderful question, it’s a shame that even though I spent about an hour reading the entirety of You Made Me, I don’t know the answer. There were too many unrelated plot twists, one of which I thought was completely uncalled for which I will speak on later. At first, I thought it was about Coral’s mission to find out about her past…but it wasn’t. Instead she goes on this completely bizarre “adventure” that somehow ends up life threatening. The plot twists weren’t twists at all. As I was reading the book, page by page, my thoughts were, “Did Reynolds just want to make this longer and longer for no real reason? Did he just decide that the reader should spend more time in this book and googled “‘Best Book Plot Twists 2015?’” Is that what happened? All of the turns that Reynolds inserted just made reading You Made Me unbearable. It was a short book, only took me an hour or so, not including interruptions, but it felt like years. Every time I thought the book was going to come to an end, even in the last ten minutes that my kindle calculated I had left, Reynolds would shout “PLOT TWIST!” and suddenly something would go wrong. That is not how you write a true plot. That is how action movies increase their run-time and see how many explosions they can add.
Does anyone know how the school system works? If a sixteen year old girl were to not come to school one day, is it possible for her to enroll into another school approximately three days afterwards? No? Okay.
Does anyone know how it is apparently possible for a sixteen year old girl to demand to stay at an adult male stranger’s house for an undetermined amount of time and actually have her demands met? I don’t know what sixteen year old female would put herself in such danger? What good parent would let her go? If I had a daughter and she were to suddenly find herself in a stranger’s home and I knew where she was, the top news story would be about me. Every single news channel would report how a mother led a ten-car police chase down multiple streets and highways only for it to end in reuniting her and her daughter. Although, it might still end in an arrest and multiple charges. But my daughter would be safe. The amount of trust that Coral, her mother, social services, and countless others just give away to people they don’t know scares me. It wasn’t normal but a highly dangerous trait that they all seemed to possess.
Oh and also, does anyone know how unbelievable it is for a school to allow a band have “Hot for Jack” as their name? The answer is very unbelievable, you are correct.
One last time, does anyone know how it is possible for someone to have their first kiss and be amazing at it? Is that truly how a sixteen year old does things nowadays? Someone with no experience somehow “amazes” someone with (assumed) experience?
I highlighted many many phrases in this book just for this part and I am all too happy to share a few of them. Before all of those, though, I would like to point out the things that horrified the writer in me immediately. I have always seen double quotation marks used when writing dialogue: “Hello, Jan. How are you?” I haven’t ever seen it any other way, until I read this book. It completely confused me because sometimes it wouldn’t register if someone was talking or if they were just thinking. There were punctuation issues such as a comma and a question mark: ‘“I am good, how are you,?”’ or accidents like: ‘“This is so” unfair!’ or blatant spelling, grammar errors, and missing words. It was unbelievable. I hope that there was no proofreading done at all because if there was, that is a tragedy. What I found most unusual was the lack of description. I have no idea what the love interest looks like, I’m not quite sure what Coral looks like, or anyone else for that matter. Isn’t that one of the most important parts of a story? How strange.
It was an awful book. A waste of time and definitely no where near worth almost three dollars. I’m thankful I got it for free, although I wouldn’t have bought it for another other price.
Context: Coral has just been kissed by someone. Side note: Commentary added in parentheses
“‘I was about to say don’t kiss me like that. If you’re going to kiss me, do it like this.’ I gently lift his head and fasten my lips on his. Probably lasts about thirty seconds until I release him. He wipes his lips (Yikes!) as I pull away. ‘Was it that bad,?’ I joke. (If he’s wiping his lips, you wouldn’t jokingly ask that, I assure you.) He looks stunned.
‘That was amazing! Where did you learn to do that?’ (Liar!)
‘I didn’t ‘ I say truthfully (How does she know how she likes to be kissed if she’s never kissed before this?)
Then that lovely smile returns. ‘Can we have another go?’
(They have just kissed again)
‘Wow! Phew..so..er..does this mean we’re an item?’ I ask, pulling out my phone and setting it to video record.” (That’s just weird, I’m sorry, that is weird. The only thing you’ve done is kiss, now you want to be an item?)
Context: None needed.
“She’s pretending to smile at him in a friendly way but the tone is definitely sarcastic.”
Context: Highly impolite woman speaking to Coral and someone they both know.
“She hesitates and rummages in her bag for her car keys then looks directly at me. ‘Of course the trouble with coral is that it may be very beautiful to look at but it lies just below the surface waiting for ships to crash into it. Coral can be very dangerous, [name omitted for spoiler purposes], so be careful. Coral can wreck peoples’ lives. You just wait till you find out the truth!’ She laughs and walks away. [Name omitted] stares at her open mouthed.” What grown woman says that to a sixteen year old? How vicious.
Context: Coral is reading a book in class
“I love English, and the novel we are reading in silence is really interesting. It’s about a girl left on her own in a forest in Norway during the second world war, after her parents are taken prisoner by the Nazis. I can identify with the girl’s dilemma to some extent (How can you identify at all..? I couldn’t see how as I read that and I still don’t understand now) but however (“but however?”) engrossed I am in the story suddenly something keeps surging through me, a sliver of nervous excitement that begins in my throat and flutters down to the pit of my stomach.” (That sounds like an allergic reaction)
Context: Coral is at school in the cafeteria.
“‘Oh is that right? It’s a pity you didn’t talk to me!’ I walk away but [name omitted] catches me and grabs my arm. Instinctively I pull away. ‘Get off, are you some kind of freak? Don’t touch me!’ I snarl. I know I shouldn’t be so snappy but I always get jumpy when I’m nervous. He looks a little taken aback, so I smile at him and tell him that I am just joking.” (That would be a great time to run, that’s not a normal reaction and she definitely wasn’t joking!)