Sunday, 16 February 2014

Review: Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

Title: Maybe One Day
Author: Melissa Kantor
Release date: February 18th 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: eARC
Pages: 259
Source: Edelweiss

Critically acclaimed author Melissa Kantor masterfully captures the joy of friendship, the agony of loss, and the unique experience of being a teenager in this poignant new novel about a girl grappling with her best friend's life-threatening illness.

Zoe and her best friend, Olivia, have always had big plans for the future, none of which included Olivia getting sick. Still, Zoe is determined to put on a brave face and be positive for her friend.

Even when she isn't sure what to say.

Even when Olivia misses months of school.

Even when Zoe starts falling for Calvin, Olivia's crush.

The one thing that keeps Zoe moving forward is knowing that Olivia will beat this, and everything will go back to the way it was before. It has to. Because the alternative is too terrifying for her to even imagine.

In this incandescent page-turner, which follows in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars, Melissa Kantor artfully explores the idea that the worst thing to happen to you might not be something that is actually happening to you. Raw, irreverent, and honest, Zoe's unforgettable voice and story will stay with readers long after the last page is turned.

I feel like the black sheep when it comes to this book because I know so many who've loved it, and no one who didn't like it. But I couldn't enjoy this book no matter how much I tried. Maybe One Day is great for people who've read a few cancer-focused books or enjoy sad contemporaries. But it definitely wasn't for me.

Before I get into this review, I want to say that I absolutely adored The Fault in Our Stars. It's one of the best books I've ever read. And this book comes nowhere close to it. I don't like that the synopsis for Maybe One Day includes 'follows in the tradition of The Fault in Our Stars.' The only thing these two books have in common is the cancer concept. Yes, that's a big part of both books, but the cancer really takes over in this one. It's incredibly depressing. I don't know anyone who's had cancer (touchwood) so I felt kind of detached from this story. I also found the writing and dialogue to be a bit drab, not humourous or intellectual like The Fault in Our Stars. I felt like Hazel and Gus were real people, and I really cared for them. But Zoe and Olivia are pretty two-dimensional, especially Zoe. So yeah, the first thing that pissed me off was the fact that the synopsis makes this book seem like it's similar to John Green's exceptional novel, when it's really not, apart from the cancer.

Zoe and Olivia are amazing ballet dancers, and both loved it until they got cut from the prestigious academy they used to attend. Olivia takes it in stride, and teaches ballet to underprivileged kids. Zoe, on the other hand, drops it completely, despite the fact that she loves it so much. Example number one of why I don't like Zoe. I mean, dance is the one thing she knows she's amazing at and she adores it, but she quits in a second once she thinks she's not 'good enough'. It's ridiculous. If you love something that much, you make sure you do it for as long as you can!

I really liked Olivia, though. Even though she's diagnosed with leukemia, she's really brave about it and she fights it like hell. Reading about everything she had to go through - the chemo, the loss of hair, the tiredness, the bone marrow transplant - I admire her so much for her strength. Though I couldn't connect much to Olivia and Zoe's friendship, I guess because we don't really see them doing stuff together, I really think they were amazing friends to each other.

We get a lot of detail about Olivia's cancer therapy and what's going on with the leukemia cells. It's great getting the medical info, but I felt like it took over the book for the most part. Entire chunks of the book is just the author describing what's going on with Olivia's cancer and how the cells are being treated. It's useful I guess, but it just made the read so depressing. It's not a good kind of sad, like in The Fault in Our Stars. It's freaking morbid. Zoe's attitude definitely doesn't help that, either.

There are a couple of secondary characters I liked - Olivia's brother Jake, and his best friend Calvin (who is also Zoe's love interest). Jake's amazing, the way he stands by Olivia and makes sure he'll do anything to keep her safe. Jake is the one who donates his bone marrow to Olivia, and it's clear he'd do it a hundred more times if it means Olivia will be okay. Calvin's a really supportive best friend to Jake through all of this. And after he gets together with Zoe, he's a good shoulder to cry on for her. Which is all she does, really. Cry. I get that her best friend has cancer, but to me Zoe's tears felt more like self-pity than anything else. Like she was thinking, "My best friend has cancer and is probably going to die. My life will be miserable if that happens." You get the picture.

There was one thing that really bothered me in this book, and it's nothing to do with the story. It's one little word that's thrown in really casually, like we'd just skip by it. I almost did. Here's the part I'm talking about - 

I was running late and racing downstairs to grab something to eat before Jake picked me up and drove me to the rec center in downtown Newark wherewhile I taught ballet and the cheerleaders taught tumbling—he and a bunch of the other guys on the football team would be teaching kids how to bench-press or tackle or rape or whatever it was that football players knew how to do well.
Do you see it? The word 'rape' is added in there. Insinuating it's something football players 'knew how to do well'. I'm sorry but are you fucking kidding me? I really want this to be a typo, because obviously there's no other meaning of rape that would make sense here. I know almost nothing about American football but I'm pretty sure 'rape' isn't a football term. I know this is a tiny part of the book and I bet most people would've missed it, but that doesn't make it okay that it's there in the first place.

I don't have too many positive things to say about this book, just that the girls' friendship is strong and defining, and I guess the ending would be quite emotional to some people. Anything involving a letter and death and an end is sad, right? I was still pretty detached from the story, but I've got to admit Olivia seems like a great person. If only her and Zoe's roles were switched.. I would have liked to get to know Liv better.

All in all, this just wasn't for me, even though I've seen so many four- and five-star ratings for it. Maybe One Day has a beautiful friendship showing two girls who care immensely for each other, but the story fell flat to me. I'm not going to say I won't recommend this, because I may remain the black sheep in this case. But I have warned you about what I think didn't work. Take what you may from my review!

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 2/5

2 comments:

  1. Aw, I'm so sorry that you didn't like this book. But I love that you are being honest :D I had been planning on reading it.. since I downloaded it back in September. But a few days ago I read the first two pages, and the writing was not for me :p And reading this review.. I don't think I would have liked the story either. Sigh. Zoe seems kind of like a bitch. I do like sad, but this doesn't sound that good. Sigh. And rape! I'm hoping it was meant to say rap. But yeah.. not an okay typo :\ Thank you for sharing, though. <3

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  2. I wanted to read this one as well, mostly because I do love books that deal with tough issues and I loved TFIOS, but it seems to me that this one is too depressing for the whole idea. I mean of course that cancer is something that's hard to read about but I like it how in TFIOS it is and it is not the central point of the story. I'm sorry that this one disappointed you, but great review :)

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