Review: Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

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Mara Carlyle’s senior year is going as normally as could be expected, until—wa-bam!—fellow senior Katelyn Ogden explodes during third period pre-calc.
Katelyn is the first, but she won’t be the last teenager to blow up without warning or explanation. As the seniors continue to pop like balloons and the national eye turns to Mara’s suburban New Jersey hometown, the FBI rolls in and the search for a reason is on.
Whip-smart and blunt, Mara narrates the end of their world as she knows it while trying to make it to graduation in one piece. It’s an explosive year punctuated by romance, quarantine, lifelong friendship, hallucinogenic mushrooms, bloggers, ice cream trucks, “Snooze Button™,” Bon Jovi, and the filthiest language you’ve ever heard from the President of the United States.

Can I mention something that annoyed me before I even started this book? My edition of this book has a quote from John Green printed on the cover – “Truly the smartest and funniest book about spontaneous combustion you will ever read”. Well that’s not a big statement, because it’s probably also the only book about spontaneous combustion I will ever read.

Otherwise, this book sounded awesome. Such a cool concept, fun and humorous. I expected (and wanted) it to be so good – which is maybe why I was so devastatingly disappointed.

While reading this book, the first word I thought of to describe it was ‘honest’. Because that’s what it is. The story is about a senior class full of students that blow up. And by blow up, I mean combust in a bloody mess that ends up over the walls, floors and fellow students. The first time this happens, the reader may be a little shocked. And then it happens again, and again, and you get used to it.

Mara is possibly the most honest and sarcastic narrator I have ever known. Is that a good thing? Not necessarily, and not always. Unfortunately it made me feel a little disconnected with her and therefore her story, where there could have been the possibility to really feel emotional with her situation.

Mara unfortunately wasn’t the only issue I had with this book. Another was the plot, which felt so slowwww.

Like, this book really dragged. It’s a long book anyway (well, anything over 300 pages is long to me), but I just didn’t feel motivated to read it. It just felt boring. Maybe if I’d been worrying about Mara and her destiny (or even another character), I’d have felt differently. But honestly, I didn’t care what happened. I didn’t care if her boyfriend or best friend or even her herself blew up.

I also disliked the ending. It seemed confusing and pointless. I felt like I was completely back where we started. Like what? I want clarification. I want to know what happened, and if anyone found out anything. Not some kind of poetic bullsh*t from someone otherwise portrayed as sassy and cold-hearted.

Oh, and one more thing. All the feels? Really? For non-readers of this book, Mara talks about this novel she wrote including a main character called Xaiver or something. Not only is All the Feels the name of a published book by Danika Stone, it also includes a character called Xander.

So what did I like? Well, I guess I kept on reading, so Aaron must have done something right. I also liked the concept and the original idea. I just feel like Aaron took too much of a risk, and in the end it didn’t pay off for me.

★★

-Beth

May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽

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6 thoughts on “Review: Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

  1. Huh, I went in semi-expecting some kind of LGBT-related contemporary since this is apparently Pride Month (source: random person on Line Play), so this came across as even more of a shock than it was supposed to. But hey, this looks pretty interesting, too! 😛 Too bad it didn’t pay off, though! It sounds like something with a lot of potential but disappointing execution. Aren’t those the worst?

    Liked by 1 person

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