Book about books and writers? Sure!
Everything All at Once
by Katrina Leni
Published July 25th 2017 by HarperTeen
Genre: YA fiction, contemporary, (slight) magical fantasy
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My rating: 3 stars
24 dares. 3 weeks. Take the leap.
Lottie Reaves is not a risk taker. She plays it safe and avoids all the ways she might get hurt. But when her beloved aunt Helen dies of cancer, Lottie’s fears about life and death start spiraling out of control.
Aunt Helen wasn’t a typical aunt. She was the author of the bestselling Alvin Hatter series, about siblings who discover the elixir of immortality. Her writing inspired a generation of readers. She knew how magical writing could be, and that words have the power to make you see things differently.
In her will, Aunt Helen leaves one writing project just for Lottie. It’s a series of letters, each containing mysterious instructions that are supposed to get Lottie to take a leap and—for once in her life—really live. But when the letters reveal an extraordinary secret about the inspiration for the Alvin Hatter series, Lottie finds herself faced with an impossible choice—one that will force her to confront her greatest fears once and for all.
Thank you so much HarperCollins International for the advanced reading copy in exchange of an honest review!
Everything All at Once is one of the books I’m looking forward to read from HarperCollins’ summer 2017 list. When I first read the synopsis, I jumped in excitement and hope for the best to read it.
Helen Reaves, the famous author of best-selling Alvin Hatter series (which I’d like to imagine as J.K Rowling in real life for her Harry Potter books) and aunt of the main character, Lottie, has left a series of letters in her will. Lottie and aunt Helen are like best friends. They are more like each other that is why Helen knew it would be the hardest for Lottie after she’s gone so she left those letters, especially Lottie having an anxiety disorders. They did not only contain encouragements; it also contain instructions and revelations they never knew before. The letter series reminds me of Cecelia Ahern’s P.S I Love You and Maureen Johnson’s 13 Little Blue Envelopes, which I both adored.
Lottie is an obviously flawed character. She has anxiety disorder which I believed worsened when her aunt died. She thinks about death a lot. She thinks of ways a person might die or hurt. Sometimes I don’t know where her pessimism comes from, whether from her anxiety or the death of her aunt. It bothered me at first but I understood her in the long run. However, I didn’t see any character development towards the end of the book.
Perhaps I expected a lot from this book. I’m excited to read it. It made me turn the pages after another but I couldn’t say it excite me. There are times that I feel like the pace was slow or maybe I just got bored. It took me a while to finally finish it.
The things I liked about this book are – guess what – books and writers and the love for them! I think this is the third book I read this year that is a story within the story. Every before chapter, there’s a short “excerpt” from each of the Alvin Hatter series and in turn I saw snippets of the story. I almost wanted to ask the author, Katrina Leno, whether she really wrote an entire Alvin Hatter series. It’s really cool. I also picked up some phrases that I relate to. Since the main character is grieving, the tone of this book is sad and quite heavy. It portrayed the theme well and Lottie is an effective character. I like that there is humor in it as well, the prologue made me laugh out loud.
There was a one huge turn, though, that I never saw coming (I did caught something in the middle but I let it pass afterwards). I suspected wrong about someone in the book. I guess I wished I was right? I mean, the twist was unexpected which I often like in a book but here it feels…out of place? Unfit for the story? It was sudden and entirely different from the more than half of the book, at least for the genre. The twist happen towards the end and it feels abrupt and just ended there, and like hey, that’s it? I’m not sure what I should feel about it.
Everything All at Once has the message to get out of your comfort zone and live. It is an okay book for me but I would still recommend it in case the theme matches your taste.
(Please note that this review is based on an uncorrected proof copy. Language content: minimal swears.)