Book Review: More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
September 17, 2015
In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?
I had heard great things about this book, and when I heard that Silvera was going to be at the Anderson’s YA Literature Conference next month, I knew I needed to read this one before I met him. Here are my thoughts after finishing:
On the Plus Side:
- I enjoyed that unique spin that Silvera puts on this contemporary (slightly futuristic) novel. The addition of a surgery that can erase unwanted memories is intriguing. Although it’s not something I’d want (I do believe that we become the people we are based on a culmination of all of our experiences, both good and bad), it is fascinating to think about how life could be transformed based on this possibility.
- I loved the wide cast of diverse characters – male/female, gay/straight, rich/poor. It provided for some interesting dynamics among the characters as well as relationship potentials. The characters were all well developed, and they came to life on the pages of the story.
- Silvera did a nice job of showing how various relationships develop and transform over time, both in positive and negative ways. Childhood friendships can be left behind, relationships with siblings can wax and wane, and love can take so many different turns, and Silvera captured it all!
- The pacing is excellent. I was drawn into the story the entire time, and I made it through the book in a couple of days.
On the Minus Side:
- I have not yet read a book set in low income housing in New York City, and I would have liked more descriptions of the life surrounding this area so I had a better understanding of what that life feels like. I think it wasn’t portrayed quite as darkly as it actually is.
- I felt a bit of an empty space with the status of Thomas and Aaron’s friendship by the end of the story. Considering it was a huge part of the novel, I had a sense of being unfulfilled at the end.
Overall, this is a great, diverse YA read that I recommend. It’s an easy read, and might make for a great novel on a cold day coming up when you just want to hunker down.
What did you think of More Happy Than Not?