Pros and Cons / More Happy Than Not

Hi!Pros and ConsReading slumps are tough – a fact I can only say speaking from experience, as I recover from one that lasted me from October into this month. I could chalk it up to a variety of reasons: my demanding academic schedule, the upcoming holiday rush, or multiple events and activities in the same timeframe, but one thing it most certainly wasn’t caused by? A lack of good books! I have a number of novels that I’ve read and adored waiting to be reviewed, so I thought I would kick today off with my thoughts on Adam Silvera’s excellent debut, More Happy Than Not. What are you currently reading?

More Happy Than Not

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again – but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is. 

Why does happiness have to be so hard? {Goodreads}

P R O S
+ Powerful, emotion-packed story I can count on a good read when I see not one, not two, but multiple reviewers sing its praises across social media, as was the case with More Happy Than Not. However so, even they could not prepare me for the powerful authenticity of Silvera’s debut, which imparts on its readers a range of emotion as protagonist Aaron struggles to find happiness in his life. Though it sports a bright, smiling cover and an uplifting title, the book is just as effective in making you angry, hurt, and stunned as it is in leaving you relieved, hopeful, and yes, happy. It’s difficult to capture, much less explain, the talent it takes to craft such raw feeling in literature, but doesn’t that model the trials of life?

+ Diverse range of realistic characters It saddens me that diversity in YA is not yet the norm, not yet expected, as I believe what we read should have some resemblance to how we live. Regardless, its status allows me to commend the authors who develop realistic casts of characters, as Silvera so eloquently does here. Aaron’s voice matches the doubt, anxiety, and hardship that plagues many teens, but it’s balanced by quirks and relationships unique to him: his love of comics, for example, or his newfound friendship in Thomas. Furthermore, Silvera imbues life into the supporting characters as well, demonstrating that one person is both needed in and dependent on the lives of others.

+ Unique and well-developed premise It’s not the first time it’s happened, nor will it be the last, but I believe the synopsis here inaccurately describes the book. Aaron’s story is so much more than the Leteo Institute’s “memory-alteration procedure {though that is certainly one of the more interesting parts}, as he finds his identity amongst his friends, mourns and recovers from loss, and, ultimately, looks for meaning in his life. Similarly, I believe Silvera deserves praise for his ambition; he tackles not only the futuristic idea of altering one’s memories, but also the all too modern issues of suicide, homophobia, and poverty. In the hands of another author, the flow might have been lost in the lessons, but More Happy Than Not proves Silvera is an author to watch.

+ Underlying sense of hope in the gritty plot of events There’s no hiding it: the novel is dark. However, as the best books do, it doesn’t leave readers with a total sense of despair. Aaron’s future won’t be easy, but as he himself remarks, “I will do my best to always find the sun in the darkness because my life isn’t one sad ending – it’s a series of endless happy beginnings.” It’s a subtle shift in theme and thought, but albeit an incredibly important one.

C O N S
+ The multiple twists regarding the timeline can be disorienting to the reader Finally, my one “con,” a term used loosely because it’s more of an observation, if anything, stems from the timeline. Silvera throws multiple twists the audience’s way, and, they, though they add to the story’s suspense, sometimes made it difficult to gauge what happened when and where. This is nothing that a prepared reader or simple tweaks can’t fix, and it made no difference on my enjoyment of the story. If this one hasn’t made your reading pile, I’d suggest you add it now :)

Have a lovely day!
Bella

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6 thoughts on “Pros and Cons / More Happy Than Not

  1. This novel has been on my TBR for far too long now, and your review has reminded me that I must read this book as soon as possible! I’m currently reading another gritty contemporary novel dealing with mental illness, and it makes me definitely in the mood for THIS novel!
    Beautiful review, Bella!

    Liked by 1 person

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