I'm Not Beautiful Therefore I'm Awesome

The Young World - Chris Weitz

DNF at 60%

I have seen the future, and it is bacon.

You people with that library of unused, witty snarky gifs will have a field day with this one.

You know whose writing style Chris Weitz reminds me of? Victoria Scott. And know that despite not being able to finish this, I mean no disrespect to either authors in drawing that comparison. I only mean to attempt an intelligent guess on which reader group this book may appeal to. Which is a good thing, because I believe there is an audience for this book. I may have even once belonged in that gallery, which may be the reason why I stuck around longer than I really intended because I kept waiting for my mood to change. 

Maybe if I added a spoonful AND A HALF of sugar in my tea this morning, or if I took the long way to work instead of my shortcut, or if I DIDN’T wear my favourite boots today, maybe I’d look at this a different way and actually laugh when it means for me to laugh. 

But it’s been a week, man. And I’ve only grown steadily grumpier and grumpier. I mean, that effort must have counted for something, right?

This was told in alternating POVs between the protagonists Jefferson and Donna who live in post-apocalyptic New York where the very young children and adults of the world have been wiped out by a mysterious disease. Jefferson is a nerd secretly in love with Donna who introduces herself as:

A lot of books you read, the author thinks it’s cool have an “unreliable narrator.” To keep you guessing and to acknowledge that there are no absolutes, and everything is relative, or whatever. Which I think is kind of lame. So-just so you know- I am going to be a reliable narrator. Like, totally. You can trust me.
First thing about me, I’m not beautiful.

The fact that this is the first issue you need to clarify to your unsuspecting, temperamental audience? Well fuck you very much Donna, because I really wanted to know that more than, oh I don’t know, actually setting the mystery as to why kids are dying when they turn eighteen for no apparent reason. Because it’s important to remind me that this heroine is all sorts of badass - liking Star Wars, being an anagram nerd and toting a gun, but most importantly, not caring about appearances BECAUSE SHE SAYS SHE’S NOT BEAUTIFUL. And believe me, it only went downhill from there once you get to know her better. 

And like any other post-apocalyptic story, the group’s resident science nerd discovers he might finally find the reason and hence, cure for this mysterious disease but they need to trudge through the dangerous territories of the jungle New York City has come to be. So all these quirkified characters get to join the Fellowship: Donna’s gay, black bestie, the diminutive Martial Arts expert who is, of course, Asian, Donna and Jefferson. They meet these different tribes of teens who adapted in various ways in the desolate future.

My other biggest issue with this book was that it always felt like it’s tripping on itself, trying it’s damned hardest to be funny and cool and swaggery with its vernacular that only ended up annoying me with its unrelenting quirk, always ending with a sleazy wink and a nudge at the end. Bogus of the bogosities? NILF? The African-American, Christian, gay best friend? Though to be fair, Peter was pretty awesome and would have been enough of a reason for me to finish this book, only because he gives out the best possible plot bunnies.

It was a high school for gay and lesbian and transgender kids, the ones who got nothing but shit at “normal” schools.
Peter: “Dear old Alma Mother.”
Me: What was it like?”

I will look forward to a novelisation of that high school drama.

I was pretty hopeful I was going to finish this. I mean, so far Donna’s been steadily annoying and Jefferson has been quite the silly attempt at the philosophical geek everyman pining for the unresponsive Donna (who had a thing going with Jefferson’s brother Washington before he died). She pretty much ignored Jeff’s profession of love the entire novel… then somebody broke out some Gotye, Rebecca Black and Bieber, prompting Donna to have a change of heart.

And everything is almost perfect, but I WISH, I find myself wishing Jefferson was here too. I want to see him smile. And then, boom, it;s like a dam breaks in my heart, and I am just drowning in feelings for him, and I think, What am I, insane?

Any person with the strength fortitude to read further than that - after the Edward worship, the anyhooters and the slut-shaming has earned my respect and ten fake internet points from me. May the odds be better in your favour, dude.

I suppose there’s some campiness at play, some alien humour that went completely over my head. I wasn’t looking for something to satiate my Goldfinch hangover but I certainly didn’t want to tempt an aneurysm in the after with this one.

Review Copy courtesy of the publishers.