More Happy Than Not
Author: Adam Silvera
Publication: June 2nd, 2015
Publisher: SoHo Teen
Format: Kindle Edition, 304 pages
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Mental Health, Science Fiction
Read: July 2016
Part Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, part Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Adam Silvera’s extraordinary debut novel offers a unique confrontation of race, class and sexuality during one charged near-future summer in the Bronx.
When it first gets announced, the Leteo Institute’s memory-alteration procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto—miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. Aaron can’t forget how he’s grown up poor, how his friends all seem to shrug him off, and how his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. He has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.
Then Thomas shows up. He doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession over the Scorpius Hawthorne books and has a sweet movie set-up on his roof. There are nicknames. Aaron’s not only able to be himself, but happiness feels easy with Thomas. The love Aaron discovers may cost him what’s left of his life, but since Aaron can’t suddenly stop being gay Leteo may be the only way out.
Plot – 4 out of 5 stars
This book started off slow in the beginning. It was a bit hard for it to catch my interest. It was very confusing and the plot dragged out a bit. When we reach the halfway mark, the story picks up a lot more and I became more invested in it. I found it to be a really great combination between contemporary and the science fiction elements. It was emotional, powerful and intense and it hit me a lot harder than I thought it was going to.
Writing Style – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I think it took me awhile to get invested into this story because of the writing style. It was a little stunted and hard to get into in the beginning. The sentences were really short and it felt inconsistent sometimes but it flowed really well with the main character’s thoughts and actions. However, it is really unique and it weaves the story in an unexpected way while still keeping the emotional power and intensity it’s trying to deliver.
Characters – 3.5 out of 5 stars
I don’t really know why I didn’t fall in love with the characters as much as I wanted to. I wanted to feel more represented than I did, specially because the majority of the characters in this novel are Latinx, but that wasn’t really the focus of the story. This was all about the main character’s coming of age journey and of his life. Aaron was confused and misunderstood. He was really sweet but I felt like a lot of it was fake. Not because he was an unrealistic character but because he felt like he wasn’t being his genuine self. But as the story went on, I felt for him. He’s really tormented by thoughts and decisions and memories in his life and it broke my heart to see his development. He has a tough relationship with his family and so much inner turmoil about his feelings and there were times when I just wanted to hold and cuddle him to death. And then there were others when I felt like he was being immature and impulsive and I wanted to shake him! Aaron isn’t one of my favorite characters ever but I will definitely remember him and his story. The side characters were all complex and flawed. They’re very complicated relationships. There are good people who get hurt. There are good people who hurt other good people. They tend to have selfish wants and warped ideals. The science fiction element brings a whole new facet to the story.
I’ve heard a lot of great things but I still didn’t know what to expect from this book, but I was so surprised with how much this book packs a punch.
The plot is powerful. We follow Aaron, whose considering a procedure that deals with memory alteration after his tough childhood, his father’s suicide and his distant family connections. Until he meets Thomas, who shows him a new side of who he is. I find it really hard to articulate my thoughts on this book because it is so much more intense than you first realize and it deals with a lot of hardcore themes like death, suicide, sexuality, violence, grief, heartbreak and more! The first part of this book was really slow. Right off the bat I was confused by the situation the main character was in: with a girlfriend, celebrating their anniversary and about to have sex. It didn’t make any sense with everything else that I’d heard about the book. It was hard to get into the writing style and the flow of the story. The first part is painstakingly and it sets up a specific image in your head and honestly, it made me lose interest because it wasn’t what I was expecting to find. Once I got over that section though, things got crazy! Nothing was how I thought it was. All my preconceived notions were challenged and flipped and there were so many twists and turns and revelations that just blew me away. Things just kept getting more intense and more confusing and more complicated and I didn’t know what was up or down. I just wanted peace and happiness but there was none to be seen for a long while. The ending was absolutely heartbreaking and earth shattering and it made me realize why so many people rave about this book. Although I’m not a fan of the writing style much, the actual crafting of the story was an inch short of brilliance. If only the beginning wouldn’t have been so dragged out, this could’ve been a five star book for me.
I still don’t know how to feel about Aaron. He’s not a likeable character by any means. He has a tendency to be self centered and selfish and immature. I didn’t agree with a lot of the decisions he made but I still felt for him. His story is full of pain and heartache and shame and hardship. I understood his struggles and I wanted more than anything for him to find happiness in the simplest of things. But he made it so frustrating at times! Either way, the ending left me almost wanting to fall into the ground with sobs. It just felt so hurtful and unfair and just not cool dude! He deserves so much better but that hopeful tinge to his narration in that last chapter almost made up for the shitty hand life gave him. Almost.
The entire cast of characters is flawed. Just like Aaron had a tendency to get on my last freaking nerve, the rest of the side characters weren’t their best selves. Aaron’s Mom made me mad. I feel like she spent too much time trying to appease her children instead of parenting them. And yet at the same time, she was so desperate for them to be happy and satisfied with their lives that I get why she did the things she did. However, I would not do the same if I was in her shoes I think. Eric, Aaron’s older brother, frustrated me but in a different way. I think he just let life pass him by too much and acted like he didn’t care about the fate of his brother or his family. He ignored the problem instead of facing it head on. And when he was trying to be supportive, it didn’t come off that way and just made everything worse. Brendan is one of Aaron’s friends and he really disappointed me, as did the majority of his group. I didn’t like his attitude or how he behaved and it just gave him this aura of a defeated person. He had no hope left and let things get beyond his control. I wish I could’ve liked Genevieve better because I think that she had the best intentions but she let her own desires get in the way. Ultimately, she was a really selfish person and Aaron didn’t deserve that and neither did she really. And finally, there’s Thomas who is the catalyst of a lot of what happens in this story. I liked him, he was interesting and intriguing but overall he was just a lost kid. Someone who was trying to find themselves in the wrong places and who never really knew how to be present.
Overall, I was surprised with how much I enjoyed this book. It had a rough start considering the slow first half and the stunted writing style which took some getting used to. But once I got into it, the story shined through and so did the characters. While all were flawed and complex, I could really feel their struggles and heartaches specially the main character’s. The ending tore me apart and I still think about it because it was just so UGH.
So that’s it for this review! Have you read More Happy Than Not? Even though I really enjoyed this book, I haven’t talked about it with many people so I’d love to chat with you in the comments. I’d love to know what you thought of it if you read it. Thanks so much for reading and I’ll see you on my next post!