DISCLAIMER: I like to rant about books, my opinion is an opinion not fact. That’s the great thing about books: we all have individual experiences reading them. I’m welcome to insight on this novel in the hope that I can see the pros out-weigh the cons a bit more! Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy my review!
Adam Silvera is a famous Young Adult author who wrote More Happy Than Not and They Both Die At the End. I’ve seen so much hype for this guy, as well as his books. And since one of my goals from my 2018 TBR post was to read more LGBTQ+ / mental health books I thought History is All You Left Me would be perfect. The main character is called Griffin, he has OCD and his boyfriend has just died in a drowning accident. That’s the basic premise – sounds really interesting and traumatic, right? I was REALLY hoping this book would be packed to the brim with honest, authentic characters and experiences but I found everything so forced and false.
I plodded my way through this book in two sittings (50 pages, and then the rest) in the hope that the next page would be better than the last, but to no avail. I’ve never felt so detached from characters in a book – I find this especially unusual because the main characters are graduating high-school/sixth form/college and are leaving for university/college, which I am very familiar with because I am a university student myself! Weird, like this book…
Things that I liked about this book before I rant:
- The exploration of OCD tendencies – even if (at times) they did feel forced in the sense that it drove the plot forward, or because it characterised Griffin WAY too much.
- Silvera describes the characters without addressing sexuality unless it’s part of the plot. For example, there were no moments like ‘he was so excited he turned in a circle gayly’ (such a bad example, I just want it to get the point across, haha).
- The time differences (much like The Nix) of ‘History’ and ‘Today’.
SPOILERS + RANT
Yeah, I didn’t enjoy this book all that much. Firstly, Griffin. What a guy. He was SO contradictory to the point at which I felt HE was a plot device. For example, his relationship with Jackson (Theo, the dead ex boyfriend’s boyfriend) and the pointless sex scene. WHY?
I feel like I need to explain a bit more as to why this plot point is so pointless and irritating. So, when Griffin is at Theo’s funeral he sees Jackson across the room and Silvera instantly (and obviously) presents him as a character that is mysterious and dangerous. The way that Griffin compares himself to Jackson is SO Toxic. Griffin immediately hates him. He makes these offhand murmurs in his head like, ‘ugh, I love Theo, it’s not loved’. He constantly belittles him in his head. I get that Griffin was jealous because Jackson and Theo met at university and Jackson spent Theo’s last days with him, but the jealousy was too much for me. I meant that I really didn’t like Jackson or Griffin. They both seemed like they despised the world because of one boy.
So, back to the lead up to the sex scene. Griffin and Jackson catch a flight to California to visit Griffin’s college and spend some time together grieving. In these few days that they spend together mourning it’s interesting (actually my favourite part of the book), Silvera explores the effects of loosing someone you “love” via exes becoming friends. At the 50-page mark I wrote in my journal, ‘PLEASE don’t get together!’ I found the plot so predictable, it was almost as If I’d already read the bloomin’ thing! So yes, they have sex. Wow. Pointless because it goes nowhere, and they apologise. After we receive an internal monologue about how Theo has done this to him, how Theo has damaged him permanently. This monologue about how much he hates Theo is later contradicted and once again Griffin has changed his mind about him. I really felt that the sex scene was an excuse for Griffin to change his opinion on Theo, just so that it could change back at the end creating this sort of redemptive character (or attempting to, at least).
I also felt that Wade’s relationship with Griffin was weird, much like Theo and Griffin’s relationship. Throughout the novel we are constantly told about their inside jokes (whilst only ever referencing the zombie-pirate thing) and how much they love each other. I didn’t believe what I was being told. Their “love” was okay. It didn’t seem special, they just seemed to watch films on repeat! They didn’t actually really talk to each other that much besides the coming out scene, or the condom scene, which I have to say, was INCREDIBLY cringey! Now, I’m not saying that this means he shouldn’t have mourned for Theo, but it really made me not want to read about their relationship. It was SO 2-D.
Overall, this book was damn-right disappointing. I really wanted to enjoy it. The one thing I will remember about this book is the disappointment I felt after reading every cringey, dull page, hoping that there would be a fantastic ending to satisfy me with. This is the worst book I’ve read so far this year. Not the best start to March but I’m hoping this will be the last of over-hyped books I read this month.