Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

The Basics:
Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski
Delacorte Press
Published March 11, 2014
Source: Received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Why I picked up this book:

Well, I received an invite to it, which was pretty tempting because I've only received a handful via NetGalley. I also liked the sudden telepathy in high school idea. It sounded... dangerous!

Secrets. Scandals. ESP. A terrific and sexy new novel about a group of Tribeca teens from Sarah Mlynowski that will immediately appeal to fans of realistic fiction as well as readers who enjoy a little magic.
We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper. 

Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same. 

So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.

My thoughts:

Don't Even Think About It is a chatty, quirky book about teenagers coping with a sudden superpower - telepathy, otherwise known as the ability to hear all the horrible secrets everyone would like to keep, well, secret. 

This one starts out a little slow - there's several characters to keep track of (and some minor characters I would have liked to gotten to know more!), and they all chime in with bits and pieces of the story. I didn't immediately connect with anyone, but once the story got moving and the teens were trying to decide how they would keep the secret and cope with the power, I was fully engaged.

I found the meta-tone to the narration a little hit or miss - the reflections on whether or not they agreed with a character were fun but the "if we knew then what we know now" type commentary was a bit irksome because even by the end of the book, I never felt like the reader had gotten to that point. There's so much story potential at the end of the book, I could easily return to this universe to see what happens next.

The use of 'we' grew on me. At first, I didn't like the hive mind implication, but I think by the end of the story I understood it more to be about a united stance rather than a dissolution of the individual. It's clear that with telepathy, everyone's opinions and individual thoughts still exist, there's just greater opportunity to reflect and engage regarding them.

I loved how telepathy could both simplify and complicate things for the teenagers. True, there were benefits, and the teens were not above leveraging those potential benefits, but there were also some negatives. That everyone coped in a different way really gave the story some depth. There wasn't a right way and a wrong way, nor did everything turn out okay in the end for everyone. But it did allow everyone an opportunity to really learn about their own character - whether or not they did anything with that - and to see below the social polish (or lack thereof) of their peers. 

Bottom line:

This is a fun, quick read that I'd definitely recommend for fans of the YA genre. It's a little out of the box, and I think tackle the social anxiety and the pressures of being a teenager in a really clever way. 

4 stars
For fans of YA, superpower stories

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