Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Carla's Thoughts: Severed Heads, Broken Hearts by Robyn Schneider

Published by Katherine Tegen, 4 June 2013

Golden boy Ezra Faulkner believes everyone has a tragedy waiting for them—a single encounter after which everything that really matters will happen. His particular tragedy waited until he was primed to lose it all: in one spectacular night, a reckless driver shatters Ezra’s knee, his athletic career, and his social life.

No longer a front-runner for Homecoming King, Ezra finds himself at the table of misfits, where he encounters new girl Cassidy Thorpe. Cassidy is unlike anyone Ezra’s ever met, achingly effortless, fiercely intelligent, and determined to bring Ezra along on her endless adventures.

But as Ezra dives into his new studies, new friendships, and new love, he learns that some people, like books, are easy to misread. And now he must consider: if one’s singular tragedy has already hit and everything after it has mattered quite a bit, what happens when more misfortune strikes? 

Sometimes when you finish a book you have to let your thoughts percolate a little. You have to let the jingle jangle mess of thoughts filter through your brain until you have words you can distill on the way out through your fingers. I've thought about this book a lot since I finished. I've filtered my feelings so much that if they were liquid they would be transparent. And the one that stand out from the rest is rankled and I can’t seem to shake it off. That’s not to say this isn't a good book, it just wasn't a good book for me.

What I look for as a reader is a way to connect. That is my one desire as a reader. I want that connection to the characters that transcends everything else about the book. I want to be invested in them; I want their struggles to feel like my struggles, I want their successes to feel like I just caught the moon along with them. And that was what I lacked with this book; I did not feel connected to any of the characters. They felt like strangers and not friends.

The book has a very familiar vibe to it but somehow managed to make me feel a sense of disconnect. It has a very hipster feeling to it that I can relate to whilst remaining indifferent. I read the book feeling vague discontent; so much about the plot line and the character arcs rang false to me. They felt like people I've met in countless other books that I let my gaze pass over because they were never interesting enough to hold it.

That was the clinch for me; I do not feel like Schneider made this story her own. It felt like a caricature of other books I have read. It was for this reason that I guessed the conclusion only a few chapters in because I have read this type of book before. I know how this story goes. For her next novel, I hope she moves away from the foundations others before her have lain because she her writing shines at times and it's a shame that it gets lost in the familiarity of an unoriginal story.

Schneider has undeniable talent as a writer; the dialogue had that particular zing to it that you can’t help but get swept up in. Her writing is intelligent and will hold a lot of appeal for readers and I can see how this book will resonate with a lot of people, of that I am sure.

15 comments:

  1. I've been wondering about this one a little bit and I might just know now. Thanks for an honest opinion, Carla! I trust your thoughts!

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    1. well thanks Ashley - interested to see what everyone else thinks because i'm pretty sure i will be in the minority with this one.

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  2. Huh, that's disappointing. I am not a huge fan of hipsters, to be honest. Well, I also don't really get what a hipster is. Plus someone mentioned to me that this book had a dog death and ugh I cannot handle that. Like I will still read it, but am going in with lowered expectations. Sorry this one ended up as a disappointment/disconnect. Alas.

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    1. i can get along with hipsters just fine; it's when they're contrived and too forced to ever stand on their own as characters that it irritates me. don't make a character 'kooky' or 'quirky' to fulfill the manic pixie girl dream, it just makes me uncomfortable and hate the characters. it was just not a good reading experience

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  3. Oh man, I HATE when I can't connect with characters! I've been wanting to read this one, too. But I see what you mean, I guess, just from reading the synopsis. It doesn't exactly scream unique. BUT I do really like the cover, haha! I'm going to give it a try anyway, although my feelings for Carla-books are usually in sync with your opinions when I finish (yay for good taste!) so we'll see how it goes!

    Farrah :)

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    1. hey Farrah! I MISS YOUR FACE. oh man, ME TOO. that is possibly the most upsetting thing to me as a reader. I can sort of deal with a less than desirable plot line if I can make some kind of connection to the characters. all I felt was a heavy disconnect. I'm looking forward to seeing what you think!

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  4. Great review! I'm sorry this book didn't quite do it for you. I'm suddenly glad I didn't request it. I completely agree with what you said though: connecting with characters is EVERYTHING. That's what gives you emotional investment in the story. Sometimes a book isn't 'bad' but you as an individual just have a hard time making that connection.. and that will make all the difference when it comes to liking the book or not.

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    1. why thank you Ashley - me too, and like i said in my review, the book wan't bad, I just had issues with the characters and how it felt like her ideas didn't stem from originality. I just felt indifferent to what happened which is so unfortunate

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  5. Oh no! It's seriously the worst thing ever when you can't connect with the story or with the characters—especially the characters. My main focus while reading is definitely characterization, so no matter how good everything else is, if that one aspect is missing I'll always be disappointed. I hadn't heard much about this book before I came across your review, but I was excited to read the blurb, but then un-excited again to hear that the author doesn't bring much originality to the table. Shame, really.

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  6. I AM SO SCARED NOW CARLA!! I know people say similar things about John Green's characters (WHOM I EFFING LOOOOOVE) so I don't know if I'll like this one when it feels like it's trying to be cool just to be cool. Or different just to be different. Or quirky just to be quirky. You get my drift. It doesn't have that same sort of charm when it FEELS like it is trying too hard. I'm probs still going to read it but we will def have to discuss!

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  7. This book intrigued me a lot, based on the title alone. I'm curious enough to still pick it up eventually, but I'll consider myself warned about possibly having a hard time connecting to the characters (which is usually a point of contention for me!).

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  8. It is bad that when I saw that the main character was named Ezra, I kind of rolled my eyes? It just sounds like a hipster name, doesn't it? I think I'll pass on Perks of Being a Severed Head.

    -Maggie

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  9. ack the more i hear about this book, the more i'm not so keen on reading about? i absolutely HATE pretentiousness so i don't know if i can deal if it comes off that way. it does have an interesting premise though and i like that you said she can write, even if it does sound familiar. thanks for your honest review!

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