Book Review: You by Charles Benoit and a Giveaway!

You by Charles Benoit
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication date: August 2010
ISBN: 9780061947049

Source: ARC provided by publisher


Kyle Chase is an ordinary teen.  He's just like you and me.  Though his story ends with a horrible incident, it unfolds just like every day of our lives.  Small choices, little things, lead him to where he ends up.  Somewhere he doesn't want to be.

Things I Liked:
I had really high expectations of this one.  In some ways, I was not disappointed.  I really enjoyed the unique second person narrative.  I've never read anything that pulled that off before.  I was impressed.  Admittedly, sometimes it was distracting or confusing, but still unique and interesting enough to keep my attention.  The story itself was a bit slow to start.  After that attention-grabbing beginning, it slows down and we get a lot of the day-to-day life of Kyle.  I think that was intentional, since it is his daily experiences that lead him to the inevitable ending.  I liked Kyle, I thought he was a good kid, even when he did stupid things over and over again.  I will admit the ending had me surprised - it was not as I expected, which was quite obviously the point.

The teachers complain that the students today are all lazy, ignorant, and stupid.  But the truth is that you're smarter than they are.  You're not even old enough to drive and you already know that none of this matters.  Not the English or the social studies or the math or the science.  If it did, if it really mattered, they'd teach it in a way that made you want to learn it.  But no, they've got to teach it in the most mind-numbing way possible, moving on without any real discussion to get to the next thing that's going to be on the test - the standardized test. p 35-36 of ARC
You want to tell her that what's wrong is the whole stupid assignment, that all it teaches kids is that there's one way to think, one way to act, so that by the time they reach high school all they have to do is look at somebody and they can tell if he's cool or a nerd or a jock or a hoodie.  That way if somebody starts thinking for himself, starts acting all weird, like wearing a sport coat to school, they'll be easy to spot. p 110-111 of ARC
Your whole life is a chain of choices - your choices. p 215 of ARC
Things I Didn't Like:
As mentioned above, I liked Kyle, but I really wanted to slap him upside the head.  He could have used that.  Sometimes things coming from his perspective sounded very didactic (just look at those quotes I have above - they sound rather preachy, don't they).  Zack was intriguing, but kept making me angry as well, though he was supposed to. 
I am quite sure if I had any kind of similar experiences when I was a teen, this book would have been life changing.  However, I was really not like Kyle, so it didn't resonate with me as much as it will with others.  While I was surprised by the ending, I was terribly confused the first two or three times I read it.  I guess I'm a little slow, but it wasn't immediately apparent to me exactly what happened.  Definitely a unique book with an audience that will adore it.  I'm just not in that audience.

A bit like Chris Crutcher and Gail Giles and other 'edgy' YA authors

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

s-factor: !
not as many as expected

mrg-factor: XX
definitely implied, though not described

v-factor: ->->
a few incidents, but not a lot of detail

Overall rating: ****

It just so happens I have an extra ARC of this book for one lucky reader (US only, sorry).  Leave me a comment telling me of a book that you read as a teen that really impacted you in some way (and a way for me to contact you).  I'll pick a winner next Friday.  Good luck!

If you buy through my Amazon linkage, I will get a very small percentage
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