Published on September 6, 2016 by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
[This book was given to me by the Publisher, this in no way affected my opinion.]
John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this irresistible story of first love, broken hearts, and the golden seams that put them back together again.
Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.
Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland's brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.
This book is a hard one to review, I started it without any expectations since none of my friends and trusted reviewers had read it already, usually I wouldn't read a book that I knew next to nothing about but I'm in a contemporary binge in this past year so I decided to give this one a shot. In some parts it surprised me in a good way, and in others in a bad way ending up to be a mixed bag for me, with some of the bad stuff weighting more than the good ones.
Let's talk first of the good things, the first thing that stood out for me was Henry's voice, it was funny, sarcastic and it seemed like a friend narrating a story or even myself at some point of my teen years, it wasn't overly philosophical but it also wasn't dumb down, it felt realistic, with some pretty quotes and meaningful insights in what it's to be a teenager and in love. Other thing is the high school we have represented here is the closer I ever read to my own experience, there wasn't super closed cliques, you had your closer friends but everyone would hang out together for things like parties and it wasn't a big deal, it's a change to the usual take we see pictured for teens.
This also lead to a more diverse sort of characters without them being shot in your face like "look at me, I'm so diverse and inclusive". I would have liked to get to know more about most of them, but since the books is mostly focused on Henry's experience with first love and the good and bad that it comes from it we don't got as much screen time with the other characters as it was necessary for me to really care about them.
Now, let's start with the bad, one of the reasons that also made the secondary characters not seem as fleshed out was because the narrative had much more tell than show, for example Henry would tell you all about how that last reunion of the journal went after it happened, so we only had to know that Lola was super sassy and Grace was brooding in that day but we don't actually get to read them having this said meeting, and the girls being their sassy and brooding selves. After a while this become really annoying and it took me out of the narrative so many times, it took me seven days to read this book and a lot of the reason was because of this, I just couldn't keep going after reading an entire chapter of Henry telling what he should have been showing me.
This also took a tool in the romance, Henry starts out pretty much instaloving Grace and when the time comes for they spend more time together, get to know each other, we don't get much scenes between them, we was pretty much brushed over the whole development of their relationship when there should have been banter and flirty with only Henry saying to the reader that they had the most amazing time together, Grace was so funny when she wasn't in her bad days, and oh my god we are the best for each other just because I'm telling you this. It didn't worked for me, in a way I understand why it may had to be necessary because of the number of pages and the time this book covers, but this method just made me not care about the romance and distance myself from the story.
Now, the romance, this book let you know right from the synopses that is romanced focused and if you ever read something by John Green you probably can tell where this is going right out of the first chapter. Like I said above the narrative didn't made me care about these two characters being together, Henry at first is pretty creepy and obsessive, and after that we just get a whole lot of Grace playing of hot and cold with him, her "mystery" was pretty obvious from the start and there was so many times that Henry would be like "what the hell is happening" and I was just banging my head because it was just so plain obvious. So basically this part of this story did nothing for me, except maybe annoy me.
One other minor thing was Grace's character journey over the book, that is probably much more personal and may not bother other people so much, but Grace passed for a traumatic event before the book started and during the whole story it's showed time and again show messes up she is, how much she needs help, professional help and it's never done anything about it. I, in addition, didn't sympathize much with her in view of the fact that I have a close friend that passed through something similar, so I just wasn't touched for her self pity and how much she seemed determined to put everyone down with her destructive acts.
In the end of the day Our Chemical Hearts had some good points but it kind of got lost in the middle of a lot of annoying things, I honestly don't know to who to recommend this one, maybe super hard core lovers of stories like Paper Towns looking for more of the same. If the things that I said above aren't things that usually bother you as much, you probably will have a better time with this one than I did.