Wednesday, 25 September 2013
Review: Every Day By David Levithan
Do you ever read a book and think, “Am I reading the same thing as everyone else”? This is exactly how I felt with Every Day. All the reviews I’d seen were full of praise. I was expecting it to be amazing. It was not.
It's a shame because I liked the concept of “A” waking up in a different body each day, content to do so until falling in love with the girlfriend of one of the bodies. Intriguing, right? Unfortunately, the execution didn’t work for me. The writing itself was gorgeous and there was more than one quotable line, but the plot and characters drove me nuts.
A was The Worst, spending the whole time talking about being good but actually doing terrible things. There’s no build up of this “good” aspect before it gets compromised, making it very hard to like the protagonist. I didn’t buy the connection between A and Rhiannon (hello, insta-love!), and the way A obsesses over her is really quite icky. I know A changes bodies every day, but there was not much personality there beyond that obsession. Oh, and judging people. A judges everyone.
Like Rhiannon for not being able to always see past the physical. One of the themes of the book is that you love the person, not the body. The notion of biology being separate from identity is an interesting one, and could have been fascinating to explore, but Every Day only goes as deep as A getting angry if Rhiannon felt a bit weird seeing a girl’s body. Which is completely understandable because, yeah, sexuality is fluid, but if you identify as straight you can’t be expected to suddenly find the same sex attractive (and vice versa). And I know they say love is blind, but you still have to be attracted to the person you’re with. A judges Rhiannon pretty harshly for liking some bodies better, which I thought was unfair.
A is also super judgemental of Nathan, one of the bodies used, when he feels, well, used. A had snuck out of Nathan’s strict parent’s house to go to a party to see Rhiannon, lying to Rhiannon, drinking, staying too long and driving too late, ending up with Nathan waking up on the side of the road having no idea where he is or what has happened. I know A can’t control going into different bodies, but seriously? That’s abduction. The idea that so many bodies were being used against their will was quite discomforting. Particularly when A wanted to get more physical with Rhiannon. Not cool.
But A’s worst judgement is reserved for one of the last bodies described in the book. A wakes up inside an overweight teen boy, and turns on so much judgment that Simon Cowell looks like an open-minded puppy dog in comparison. A treats the teen as lazy, disgusting, stupid and… wait for it… shallow. Yep. Coz apparently being obese means you can’t have “emotional depth”. It’s really disappointing, because it could have been an opportunity to explore the very deep and complex emotions that often go along with weight problems. Instead, it reinforces prejudices against overweight people rather than using it as a chance to undermine them.
Rhiannon is not a lot better than A. She's pretty two-dimensional. Some of the bodies A spent a day in felt more developed than her. She accepted the A thing way too quickly and fell in love too easily. She was incredibly passive. A judges (there’s that word again) Rhiannon’s boyfriend for being horrible to her, but A doesn’t treat her a whole lot better, and she goes along with it. She doesn’t have any agency. Even at the end, A is in control of what will happen to Rhiannon “next”. So not romantic.
It was a shame that the bland, unromantic love story was the central plot, when the concept had so much potential. There is a bit of a subplot about people being after A, but it develops slowly and sporadically before finally fizzling out.
Despite the beautiful writing, Every Day was a very average read.
Rating: 2.5 stars
Published: 2012, Knopf
Get It: Book Depository