Monday, March 02, 2015

Review: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

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I received this book for free from HarperCollins in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStayEverything That Makes You Published by Katherine Tegen Books on March 17th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore.

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

This book was a solid 4-stars at first, but once the intriguing factor wore off I just got bored and then confused. It’s a good premise, but one that was executed much better in a few other books I’ve read: Just Like Fate and Pivot Point. The “what if” is a question that many can’t help but consider. In Fiona’s case, what if she had never had that accident that left her scarred? It’s interesting to see how an event like that changes someone, or how different their lives would be had in not happened. Unfortunately, once this initial curious factor wears off, the novel starts to become quite mundane, with characters who are not easily likeable.

Told in alternating perspectives, we get Fiona’s story who was tragically scarred at the age of 5 after an accident at the zoo, and then we see how Fi is living her life unscarred. Fiona was always the most interesting – and the most likeable – to me. It’s easy to sympathize with her, seeing her live through stares and snickers. People thinking she’s an invalid, even, just because she has scars. As expected, she has self-esteem issues that run deep, but like any normal teenager, she has crushes and future plans and hopes and dreams. Fi, on the other hand, has lived a pretty normal life so far with no worries other than getting a scholarship for lacrosse. Until she breaks her ankle, at least. Fi is definitely much harder to like. She’s whiny and kind of a bitch at times, and just…. a quitter. How can you root for that? She gets a little bump in the road and that’s it, her life is over so might as well stop trying altogether! Urgh! On the romance side, (and this goes for both perspectives) I didn’t get her attraction to Trent. He’s “hot” apparently, but his personality leaves much to be desired if you ask me. She kept being so fixated on him even though he didn’t deserve it most of the time, I just didn’t get it.

So with both these stories I expected either some kind of thought-provoking conclusion or a meaningful self-finding mission where you realize that with or without a tragedy, you’d end up where you’re supposed to be, you know. And while there is some sporadic emotional content, we mostly get two fairly average teenage lives that end up not being that… interesting. In addition, and this was the biggest problem for me, both perspective become so similar, with the same secondary characters who are only slightly different on each side, that it all starts to blend together. It confused me enough that I couldn’t even recall which character had which role in which perspective anymore. Trent was her crush on one side, her best friend on the other. Jackson was her crush on one side, her friend on the other. Ryan – her brother – was pretty much the very same on either side, same girlfriend and all just in a slightly different place in his life. Plus, Fiona gets her scars fixed a quarter through anyways so her finally finding the courage to sing at open mic night is nothing spectacular. So in short: side 1) She was scarred, she gets “fixed” she continues to live. Side 2) She’s a lacrosse prodigy, she breaks her ankle, she pouts and complains, it heals, she continues to live. This is pretty much the gist of this novel. I found it pretty directionless overall. Like, what’s the point of this story?

So as you can see, I was not the biggest fan of this one in the end. It’s a solid idea, but the delivery is lacking. Maybe if I didn’t have anything to compare it with I would have enjoyed it more, but as it stands, I expected to find a much more powerful read than what I got.


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Canadian blogger, wife, mother, coffee lover, and sarcastic at heart! She has had a love for all things bookish since before Amazon and eReaders existed *le gasp*. You can also find her organizing tours and other fun things at Xpresso Book Tours.

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18 Responses to “Review: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’m glad I DNFed this book early on. I quit when one of her personalities decided not to apply to her dream school because of that one guy she met. I was raging by then!
    And I have to agree, this was really boring. I think I expected it to be more like Just Like Fate and Pivot Point which had much stronger characters and storylines. And yes, I would be pissed if the story was directionless. With a book like this, there are so many lessons the author could have taught her readers.
    Sorry this was such a disappointment, Giselle! Great review!

  2. Ramona

    Wow, this sounds pretty disappointing. I agree that the premise is interesting, maybe TOO interesting, by which I mean it almost sets itself up for a fall. You expect a lot from a book pledging two different lives of the same person, starting with this accident. I mean ,,, wow! Awesome idea. Maybe the author thought it was enough? Excellent review, Giselle <3

  3. Jolien @ The Fictional Reader

    I was kind of anticipating this novel because the synopsis sounds incredible. But from your review -which is really great by the way- I can tell I won’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. If there’s really nothing special, no twist in the story at all, then I’ll feel really bored. And if Fi is a quitter and so on, I know I’ll have trouble reading her part.

    Great review!

  4. Ari

    Uhh, and I still need to read this one. I liked the cover and the premise, hopefully I will have better luck with it 😐

  5. A.P.Bullard

    It’s a shame that it wasn’t executed well enough to follow through on the intriguing premise. Great review, though! I love the amount of detail you add in your posts.

  6. Cynthia

    Hmmm, the premise sounded really interesting and I had this one on my TBR. But your review makes me rethink that. Great review.

  7. Fran

    I rarely open a book in this genre BUT it sounded kind of cool…The cover intrigued me & thats where it ended. (got a review copy lent to me) I hate to say it but it was kind of dull. I did not find much to enjoy with Fiona’s character. To me she seemed pretty typical if not somewhat predictable.
    IDK. I ended the book kind of early. I figured Id be alone in my assessment. Im normally not the biggest contemp. fan anyways.

  8. Benish

    Yikes .. I was actually looking forward to reading this one, I’m a bit hesitant to check it out now – let’s see! I love the honesty of your review Giselle, the plot seems intriguing though x

  9. Rashika

    You should see the expression on my face right now, Gee. I am not really as enthusiastic about alternate timeline stories because while I love the idea, I haven’t really loved any of the stories I’ve read that deal with this.

    I don’t think I’ll be reading this one though especially if all of their problems just disappear. Like she has scars but they get ‘fixed’ and then all her problems poof. Bah humbug. I am reallllly bothered by that because quick fixes like that don’t exist.

    The romances also sounds really meh in general.

    I am sorry this didn’t work out better for you, Giselle!! 🙁

    Lovely review, hon <3

  10. JennRenee

    I was thinking this maybe an awesome book. I loved Just like Fate. It seems it fell short. I do still need to read Pivot Point, maybe I will hit a win with that book. I do love these type of books, the what if factor always brings in so many questions.

  11. Sarah @ One Curvy Blogger

    You’ve got to be a talented author to make me enjoy a book with un-likeable characters and I dunno, the idea of alternating perspectives or the same girl just makes me leery. o.O You did a great job reviewing this one ~ I would have been much more interested in the book if the author just stuck to the Fiona after the accident. It would make a much better book, seeing her come out of her shell and grow past her issues with her scars. I think a lot of teenagers could probably relate to that. 🙂

  12. Meredith

    Oh no! I’m sorry that it went downhill almost from the beginning 🙁 After reading your review though I think I will hold off on reading this one for awhile. Even though this one wasn’t a winner your review was still great and thorough!