Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

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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: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn SchneiderThe Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider
Published by Katherine Tegen on August 27th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: HarperCollins
Buy on Amazon

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for themโ€”a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezraโ€™s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezraโ€™s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if oneโ€™s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes?

I was waiting in line and happened to have this book with me, and after only 10 minutes I was already hooked. The first few pages recount a horrifying situation that is bound to shock anyone, and already I could put myself in their shoes and feel it changing these boys for life. Then shortly after, we’re brought into the second shock of the book: the accident that changed Ezra’s life.

The Beginning of Everything is narrated by Ezra, a one-time golden boy who’s now feeling out of place with his cane and worthless self image. I loved this boy from the get go. His voice is brilliantly depicted as a teenager who used to have it all – or so he thought. You can not only feel his pain, but you also come to understand how hard it is for him to accept that he’s not who he was anymore. Throughout this book Ezra searches for himself, and finds what he needs to find in the most realistic, though not easiest, of way. The start may be shocking, but it’s a pretty mellow read for the most part. Robyn gives us a real teenage boy with genuine insecurities and flaws. Obviously I’ve never been a teenage boy myself, but I found him to be perfectly portrayed with a convincing – and refreshing – personality.

This is another of those plots that aren’t necessarily about anything in particular; at least nothing cut and dry. We have Ezra who was once the most popular boy in school with tennis championships and prom King crowns in his back pocket, and, of course, the prettiest girlfriend, but after the accident his life takes a 180. All in all, this book is about ever changing life; or in Ezra’s case, a life changed by tragic force. But, is it really the worst thing that could have happened? We see him question who he really is, if he really belongs anywhere at all. The book also has friendship as a major topic; he finds out who his true friends are. It’s bizarre how sometimes it takes a tragedy to change people for the better; to make them see what they took for granted.

Romance is another large aspect of this novel, which is where Cassidy comes in. I adored this girl just as much. I found she brought a lot of energy to the book. She’s intelligent and confident, but there’s also something underneath her bright surface that is weighing her down. In a way, this made her perfect for Ezra’s love interest. They bonded with this inseparable connection that you can sense through the pages, born from shared brokenness – even though they’re good at hiding it. The mystery behind Cassidy’s past becomes fairly predictable, however – at least I thought so – especially after her sudden change of heart. It was made obvious by the immediacy following a certain conversation if you pay attention. I knew then exactly what had happened, though not right away who exactly it involved. As for the ending, I think it’s one that readers will easily love or hate. I fall more on the love side for how incredibly realistic it is. Life doesn’t end neatly wrapped up with everything we expected and/or wanted, it just goes on. I appreciate realism over anything in these types of books.

Compelling characters, a strong narration, and great writing fill the pages of this book. The Beginning of Everything is sad, funny, hopeful, heartbreaking; it’s about dealing with what life throws at you. Lemonade, anyone?


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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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33 Responses to “Review: The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider”

  1. Nick @ Nick's Book Blog

    I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed this too, Giselle. I know how much Giselle adored it as well. I can’t seem to download the book off EW because an error keeps coming up, but I will be getting a copy of this when it comes out.
    The characters sound like they are really well-written and I can’t wait to meet Ezra. I also like how friendship is a huge part of this book and not just the romance. I can tell just from reading your review that this will be a book I undoubtedly enjoy.
    Brilliant review, Giselle!

  2. Soma Rostam

    Well, Giselle, this is definitely intriguing and it’s the first time I hear of it
    I like the idea of the fall from grace kind of thing and I am adding it to my TBR
    GREAT review, as always
    Your reader,

  3. Mary @ BookSwarm

    I’d definitely figured out what Cassidy was all about and I even kind of expected what happened in the end (I actually liked it…). A very enjoyable read with great characters!

  4. Eileen @ ***Singing and Reading in the Rain***

    I’m so happy that you really loved this one! Ezra was definitely such a realistic character, especially in the way that he had to deal with such a life-shattering accident and he still seemed find by the end ๐Ÿ˜€ I agree, Cassidy was also a wonderful character and just perfect for him. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think I liked this a little less than you did, because of my book slump at the time, but I definitely can see all of your points.

    Fantastic review, Giselle! <333

  5. P.E. @ The Sirenic Codex

    Definitely interested in this one. I like that Ezra seems realistic, and sometimes, plots about nothing in particular do work out for me. I also strangely love reading about stories in male perspectives. Anyway, great review.

  6. Amy @ Book Loving Mom

    I’m so excited that you really enjoyed this one!! I am going to be reading it soon and can’t wait. I actually think I am getting the audio for it also which will be great so I can listen when I wouldn’t be able to actually read.

  7. Savannah

    I just reviewed this book myself. I really enjoyed it. I thought the plot came together well with the whole past and stuff. And I agree Cassidy does bring a whole new element to the book with her thinking. Great review.

  8. Nereyda @Mostly YA Book Obsessed

    The summary sounds like nothing new but authors can add such a great touch to those stories and they sometimes become my favorites. I remember seeing a tweet that you really liked this one. Not a big fan of the cover but I’m trying to be less vain…it doesn’t always work…

  9. Laureen

    I’m glad you enjoyed it! It sounds like it could be a really interesting book. I don’t usually read contemporary YA books, but I may have to give this one a shot. Thanks for sharing your review!

  10. Christina @ Christina Reads YA

    This one has been cropping up everywhere, and I’m still undecided. A lot of people seem to have compared it to John Green’s work (or said it was perfect for his fans, which I am and am not) and said that Cassidy was kind of a manicpixiedream girl. Then again, it sounds like you really enjoyed the energy and freshness she brought to the novel. If I were to read an excerpt, I bet I would get as hooked by those pages about the tragedy as you were, but the question is: would I enjoy the rest? Do I break the book buying ban?

  11. Vivian

    While this one does sound good and I love the name Ezra, lol, I’m not much of a fan of books that “don’t go anywhere”. I’ve just been so picky lately with what I’m reading, at the tail end of a reading slump and all. Great review tho!

  12. Millie Dixon

    Okay, so I’m not really a contemporary fan, but there is something about this book that interests me. I’m glad you enjoyed it so I know that there’s a possibility that I’ll like it too. Fantastic review! You’ve got me extremely interested in the MC


  13. Jen

    Woooh I’m so happy to see that you enjoyed this one! Schneider seriously captured a teen boy’s voice really well. I loved Ezra from the get-go; I found that he was so relatable and just REAL. And Cassidy is definitely a mystery, but I loved her wit. I fell in love with that ending, too, I think it’s perfect for this story. Wonderful review, Giselle!

  14. VeganYANerds

    I’m so glad I got a copy of this at BEA as well! I’d been wanting to read it, then saw a negative review, but I still wanted to read it! I love a book that grabs you from the start, will have to get to this soon!

  15. Molli

    Wonderful review, Giselle! I agree, the “mystery” was something I figured out mostly, but it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of this book, surprisingly. It was just SO darned good. Ezra was really honest and true-to-form I think – RS didn’t try too hard to make him seem like a “real” guy. And TOBY. I adored Toby and some of Ezra’s other friends. Just …loved this one so much!

  16. Jenni

    I LOVED THIS BOOK SO HARD! I am happy that you loved it too though not as much as me. I agree that Cassidy was a fantastic character but I find myself really missing Ezra, even still after 2 weeks after having finished the book.

  17. Megan (Ink Skies)

    I LOVED this book to death, so I’m glad that you felt pretty much the same way, too! Ezra’s definitely a likable person – and not only because he’s a HP fan (okay, that had its perks). I found his voice so realistic, and yes – he had such a refreshing personality. I fell in love with the characters, so the ending was particularly painful for me. But otherwise, Robyn’s first book was a huge success with me. Lovely review!