Monday 11 March 2013

Review -- From What I Remember by Stacey Kramer & Valerie Thomas

From What I Remember

Title: From What I Remember
Author: Stacey Kramer & Valerie Thomas
Publisher: Hyperion
Release Date: 15 May 2012
Date Read:
Rating: ★★★★☆

KYLIE: Mexico? What a nightmare! I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY! Wait! Is this a wedding band on my finger
MAX: It started with Kylie's laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics and it ended in Ensenada. It was hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we're stranded here, with less than twenty-four hours before graduation.
WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border - but there's no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started.
LILY: This cannot be happening. It's like some cruel joke. Or a bad dream. I close my eyes and when I reopen them, they're still there. Max and Kylie Flores, freak of the century. In bed together. If Kylie thinks I'm giving him up without a fight, she's dead wrong.

I wasn't really expecting anything much from this to be honest. People have called it the YA version of The Hangover. While I enjoyed that movie, it's not really something I want to read. I can't imagine any way that movie translating well over a YA novel. I still don't know how that would work because I find it unfair to compare From What I Remember with The Hangover. I see the similarities, yes, but the novel was a lot more than that.

It's weird. From What I Remember is filled with cliches, especially the character types and the plot is definitely not anything new to the genre. There's Kylie- the organised nerd, never once disobeyed the rules. Max- our handsome jock, the Golden Boy that everyone is in love with. They are thrown into each other's paths, forced to deal with each other, work together to get out of the shitty situation they're in. They hate each other at first but soon come to realize that people are more than what they seem, everyone has their stuff to deal with, their own secrets. They learn about each other, fall in love and happily make out ever after. Oh, but of course it's not as easy as that. Nothing ever is when it comes to YA fiction. Max, of course has a serious girlfriend, the Queen of the school, Lily and she's not about to give up that easily. The claws are out and drama thrives best under love triangles. It's ok, though. Kylie has got the fight in her, especially with the help of her flamboyantly gay best friend, Will. Throw in an exotic town in Mexico and lots of booze, and it just sounds like something I wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole.

But imagine my surprise when I realized I was actually enjoying From What I Remember. A lot.

The novel is told through multiple point of views. Normally I find two povs too much already. It is rare that the author, in this case authors, can handle the multiple povs and you hardly ever get any good character development since they're focused on establishing each one's voice. But Thomas and Stacey pull it off, with almost five (five!) different characters sharing the narrative. Sure, some are more developed than others with Kylie and Max doing most of the narrating but I loved reading about everyone else's pov, as well, especially Will's. What's important is that each pov enrich the storytelling, not drag it down. Each character has their own unique voice. I never forgot whose head I was in, like I do in so many multiple pov novels. If their voices aren't completely different from the other characters, then there are enough subtleties in their manner of speaking and thinking to distinguish one from the other.

Kylie could be a little bipolar at times. She can be hot then, freezing cold. Happy and content one second, the next she's made herself feel really down, if not depressed, by over thinking and doubting everything she's done. Confident one moment, then bam, she's retreated back into her shell and she's all meek and shy. It sounds ridiculous and problematic to handle but something about Kramer and Thomas's delivery made it work. Again. It actually made Kylie much more relatable, in my opinion. I can easily see myself doing what she did and thought when put in those situations. There's nothing really exceptional about Max, to be honest, especially when compared to the other male characters that populate the contemporary genre. But for some reason, I really liked him. He was flawed really well that I just couldn't help but like him. Kylie and Max's romance build up was great. It didn't feel forced. It was genuine and easy and just cute.

Will was my favourite. I looked forward to reading his chapters. He was a hilarious person with a great attitude. You know how girls always want a gay best friend? Will is the bestest gay best friend you can ever find. He really cared for Kylie, supporting her but not taking her shit. He knows when to push and when to just let her go on her own.

Thomas and Kramer make an awesome team. From What I Remember takes you on a fun adventure filled with humour, romance and great tales of self-discovery.

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