Book Review: More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera

More-Happy-Than-Not-Adam-Silvera-Book-Review

Title: More Happy Than Not (2015)
Author: Adam Silvera
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBT
Extent: 293 pages
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Rating: ★★★★☆

Goodreads Description

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?

Review

I found this review really hard to write but to start off, More Happy Than Not is NOT a happy book. In fact, it’s really more depressing than not. This is a book with really realistic and mature issues: the death of a parent, death in general, suicide, loss, grief, heartbreak, personal and sexual identity, homophobia, friendships, relationships, etc.

One of the strongest points of this book is most definitely its characterisation.The characters are complex, flawed, occasionally selfish with wants and needs that oppose each others’. Think about how closely that mirrors real life: sometimes good people want good things, and they might still not get it, they might still hurt other good people. This book is perhaps the epitome of that.

Aaron is a good person, but he does not live a happy life. No character in More Happy Than Not, in fact, happy, regardless of the fact that they are (arguably) all good. Not Genevieve, who I believe really, truly love Aaron but is still somewhat self-centred in getting what she wants. Not Aaron’s mum, who is overworked to the extent of being neglectful and is supportive when Aaron really, really needs it, but not a second before. Not Thomas, who dwindles about his life, possibly in denial, and is somewhat plagued by his lack of commitment.

“We all make mistakes… but it’s also a step in the right direction. If nothing else it’s a step away from the wrong one.”

From the blurb of the book, I kind of expected romance to be more of a theme, but I feel like Thomas was in the end more of a catalyst character than a main character, if that makes sense. His existence pushed Aaron to discover himself and confront his fear as well as who he really is, but in the end wasn’t particularly important — I feel like he could’ve been substituted by any other character and the result would’ve been the same.

Plot-wise, this book is incredibly bittersweet. I expected this from reading the blurb and other reviews — Aaron is considering a memory-altering procedure to ‘fix’ his sexuality, after all — but I didn’t expect the twist, nor did I expect all the implications, emotional or otherwise, that came from it. The first half of the book is much, much lighter than the second, and past the midpoint, everything just kind of went downhill for our characters.

“It’s okay how some stories leave off without an ending. Life doesn’t always deliver the one you would expect.”

More Happy Than Not deals with the question of memory and identity. If all our memories are erased, are we still who we are? Can we change our very own nature if we want it hard enough? Who are we? What makes us, well, us? These are all questions Silvera attempts to explore via Aaron’s eyes.

The only reason why I’m giving it four stars is because it took a while for me to delve into the story — the beginning was too slow, and the twist came by a bit too late, so there was personally some pacing issues in the storytelling. In the end, though, I can’t think of anything more realistic (and also more depressing) than the message this book sends:

“Most things will be okay eventually, but not everything will be. Sometimes you’ll put up a good fight and lose. Sometimes you’ll hold on really hard and realize there is no choice but to let go.”

Bittersweet, emotional and heartbreakingly realistic, More Happy Than Not is the kind of book that makes you wonder ‘what if?’, but also teaches you to accept yourself and your life exactly how they are.

Advertisements

18 thoughts on “Book Review: More Happy Than Not – Adam Silvera

    • This was on my TBR for a loooong time as well before I finally picked it up! I didn’t cry, but I could see where some people would — some parts of this book are just really heartbreaking. I hope you enjoy it, though, and thank you for your comment! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great review Reg! This sounds like a really interesting book, kind of heartbreaking, but I’ve seen it around a lot and added it to my to-read list a little while ago. I think this may be the kind of book I’ll have to be in a certain mood to read, gotta psyche myself up for the heartbreak it’ll cause.

    Like

    • Thanks, Beth! It’s definitely quite different from what I’ve read and portrayed a lot of really heavy issues. Some parts of it were harder to read than others, and I agree that you’d have to be in a certain mood to read it! Hope you get to it eventually. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Well it’s on my to-read list now. I think it’ll be one I pick up on a whim one day rather than saying right, by the end of is month I need to get around to More Happy Than Not!
        It sound like quite a heavy book, and definitely different from anything else I’ve read as well. But there are good reviews about it so it seems like the author handles representing the issues well

        Like

        • The book is incredibly diverse, and it was written in quite an engaging manner! It’s been a while since I read it and I can still pick up some scenes in my head – so the stick-ability factor is there as well. 😛

          I think it’s better to pick up this book (and possibly all books) on a whim – it ensures that you’re in the mood for it after all. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Well that’s definitely a plus, if it’s been a while since you read it and there are some scenes that still stand out for you. There are plenty of books like that for me as well and most of them are favourites of mine (there are a few that stand out because I didn’t enjoy them, but that’s another story)
            I’ll definitely have to do that, if I’m ever stuck one day for something to read I’ll try and reach for this book 😀

            Like

  2. I’ve heard so many things about how powerful and emotional this book is, so I am so glad to hear you liked it too! Definitely going to have to give it a try. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and fabulous review! ❤

    Like

  3. Thanks for such a great review! This sounds like a weird thing to say, but I felt that for a while there the market was suddenly full of ‘suicide YA’, a lot of which didn’t necessarily explore the issue in a way I found satisfying, so I had dismissed this one as part of that group.

    The whole memory alteration theme sounds fascinating though. It’s definitely an element that gives the book some individuality amongst the many many YA books that tackle similar issues.

    How do you feel about the whole catalyst love interest thing? I feel like as I get older I’m realising that so many relationships, particularly in YA, have this function. I like life change, but at the same time I also like a love interest that is complicated and interesting, which often these catalyst characters aren’t so much.

    Like

    • I actually agree with you that the market was suddenly full of ‘suicide YA’ (though I think it’s more like ‘depression YA’, which involves suicide as well) — I’m probably more an optimist in the sense that I feel (or hope) that each book brings something different to the table. I can’t speak for everyone, of course, but depression/suicide is such a personal thing, I wonder if any book can ever encompass it in a way that satisfies everyone. 😛

      But yes, the memory alteration theme makes the book a bit more futuristic than others (and in a good way, I think, because it poses other questions to do with how your memory/past impacts your identity).

      As for the love interest as a catalyst, I personally don’t mind it and it’s done generally well in this particular book, but I wish fictional relationships aren’t always the focal point of coming-of-age books. Relationships matter, yes, but in my experience that’s not THE thing that makes you grow up, you know? It’s certainly part of it but some people might have an ‘easier’ time with relationships and they don’t necessarily add drama to your life. I’m not sure if I’m explaining myself well enough…

      Thanks for the comment! It made me think. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • You explained yourself really well. I totally agree. I feel like often falling in love is used in place of the actual actions that lead to you growing up. I guess that’s because a lot of that stuff you actually have to do by yourself. I don’t necessarily think that would make for a less interesting book, but it’s definitely not one of the YA trends.

        Like

        • Admittedly though for a lot of people crushing, falling in love, getting heartbroken etc. is definitely a huge part of growing up! And it makes for easy drama in books, so I wonder what a YA book completely devoid of romance would look like. I can’t seem to think of any off the top of my head! :p

          Liked by 1 person

  4. I have yet to read this book. It’s been on my TBR forever, but my sister read it a few months ago and she absolutely loved it, which is surprising because she reads mostly classics 😂. I’m hoping I enjoy it too! Great review, Reg! 😊

    Like

  5. I just found out this book existed – TODAY. I know I have to read it because it tells my story. The story I wanted to read about as a teenager. Thank you for such a lovely review. 😀 I will be buying it and reviewing it in May. That’s the plan, at least, though I’m bad at sticking to plans. hah

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s