Let's Not Revive This

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Coming down from reading super literary adult fiction novels to young adult novels is a huge jump for me. After reading young adult novels for quite some time, I felt bored. They’re all so formulaic. Girl meets boy. Girl gets into some sort of trouble, be it teenage issues or huge magical issues. Girl defeats said obstacle and live happily ever after with boy. The end.

It’s not that I have something against romance themed novels (okay, I do have something against adult romance novels, the ones that have super chiseled and muscular men on the covers with women who are leaning against them).  It’s just that some young adult novels are just so badly written that I wonder why it even got published in the first place. A lot of novels, not just young adult novels, are published due to the plot, but there’s definitely a dearth of well written novels for young adults. It’s easier to market well written books to adults.

This past week, I reread parts of the ARC for the novel, Revived, by Cat Patrick (I first read the ARC in April). Originally, I requested the novel because it sounded like it was going to be a dystopian novel. The summary said something like this, “Daisy Appleby has died five times in the past fifteen years. She’s been able to live due to a secret drug called Revived that brings people back from the dead. When she meets Matt McKean, she begins to question the Revived and she discovers that there’s more than she thought.” I ignored the “girl meets boy and questions everything” part. It’s a young adult novel. What can you expect?
Dystopian novel it was not. Revived takes place in a normal society. A very normal society. It’s the society that we live in today. Daisy Appleby has indeed died five times, though of pretty normal reasons. She chokes on grapes and dies. She’s in a bus accident and dies. She gets stung by a bee and dies. (I can’t remember the last two reasons.) It was a letdown to read that Daisy did not die of reasons such as she was wounded in a battle against some super secret anti-government faction.

Revived explores many themes such as secrecy, love, life and death, and family. However, it was one too many themes to explore. Many themes were touched upon but never fully explored. Perhaps the most fully explored theme is life and death. However, it just felt out of place. The novel is supposed to focus on Revive, at least that’s what the summary promises. Life and death is a part of that, but the way that Cat Patrick focuses on death removes Revive from the plot. The novel feels so segmented; Revive is mentioned and introduced, then the life and death theme comes along (Revive is barely mentioned) and finally, Revive is talked about again.

I liked Cat Patrick’s debut, Forgotten (I wrote a review, here). It focused on fewer themes but still felt complete. This one however, felt like it was trying too hard. It touched on a lot, but explored too little. I know that Forgotten was very well received for a debut book, as a movie deal was inked shortly after publication, but Cat Patrick or the publisher could have been less in a hurry so the second book would have more potential. 

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