Errr...that cover is awesome. And the colour and style are totally tapping into associative sighting-power of existing sought-after titles in the market (Wonder, The Fault in Our Stars...).
I checked this one out after a young woman in the youth group I spend time with recommended it enthusiastically.
This book scrapes in as a 3/5 for me, it's a real mixed bag. Let's start with the scraping factors;
- It feels forced and self-conscious. The story does, the repetition of a certain phrase (read a few chapters, and which phrase I mean will become all too clear). The metaphor and similes also feel strained, like Gemeinhart is reaching but not quite nailing it. In one scene the protag explains what a haiku is to a 6-year-old extra. Was that really necessary? Really? I felt babied. Even if I was a middle-schooler, I feel like I didn't need the break-down...because I'm not 6. 6-year-olds aren't reading this.
- The language isn't particularly challenging, but the subject matter and narrative course demand YA readers rather than middle-schoolers, in my opinion. Which is a shame, as the level of difficulty is better suited to middle school, I think. Sensuality and other elements are also appropriate for younger readers, but there are undeniably some complicated and dangerous concepts about death and one's right to choose their death in this one -- character decisions all made without adult help too. Yikes. Which brings me to my next point:
- If you project at all as a reader (I do, bit time), this is abysmal parent reading.
- It is compelling!
- It is short!
- There's enough happening.
- There's a great pet in this (which the young woman who recommended it no doubt connected with, the dog-lover she is). I could almost add another, related neg about said pet though, since the protag makes some weird choices relating to his faithful friend.