*This review will contain spoilers!*
First things first, I need to say a huge thank you to Sourcebooks Fire, for accepting my request to view this title on NetGalley. I also would like to thank NetGalley, for the service that they provide.
When William 'Taco' Keller asks Maggie Corrigan to the prom, he doesn't think she'll say yes.
He definitely doesn't think they'll have a whirlwind summer romance that will result in Maggie being pregnant.
Yep, you heard that right - this is a teen pregnancy book told from the male's perspective. I can't think of another one of those, so that's certainly a selling point for 'Anything You Want'.
However, that's really the only positive thing I can say about it.
Am I being harsh? Probably. But 'Anything You Want' is one of those books that genuinely makes me despair for the English language. I've been wondering how to word this review for a while, and it seems the best (nay, only) way is for me to list exactly what is wrong with this novel.
So sit back, relax, and enjoy...
- The main character's name is Taco. Isn't that an instant turn off?!
- Maggie Corrigan is a manic-pixie-dream-girl in the most awful sense of the term.
'Maggie Corrigan is intense. She's wild and crazy and intense. [...] I spent a few weeks following Maggie Corrigan around school and saw how she laughed until she fell on the floor, screaming when she got mad at her friends, cried when she was sad about the basketball team losing, and smiled so hard it looked like her face might break.'
Sounds to me as though Maggie Corrigan could potentially be dealing with bipolar (based on her extreme and instantaneous mood swings throughout the novel) or, if not suffering from something clinical, she has one serious case of drama queen disorder.
- The rights of a mother mean less than nothing. Despite the fact that Maggie is the one that's pregnant, she doesn't have any character development and no one really takes her feelings into consideration. She tells Taco she wants an abortion - he refuses. She tells Taco she wants to be a proper family, including getting married - he agrees, then changes his mind and doesn't even have the guts to tell her to her face, he just emails her. Maggie definitely develops Taco's character, but she's very much a minor player in her own story.
- Repeated 'dingus' syndrome. I appreciate it when characters have their own vocabulary and their own quirks (I mean, I did coin the phrase "Crikey Moses!" to replace "Jesus Christ!") but it only works effectively if it happens at intervals throughout the book, and if it actually makes sense in the sentence, dingus. Taco just uses the word all the time, dingus. It loses all meaning, dingus. Dingus, dingus, dingus.
- Taco is on the honor roll?! Yep, I'll say that again: TACO IS ON THE HONOR ROLL. Apparently he's one of the smartest kids in his school and always has been. So tell me, if he's so smart why does he say to Darius when he asks if Maggie's on birth control: "No. [...] Why should she be?" and then later, to Maggie: "I thought you were possessed by a ghost, but [Darius] said you were pregnant".
If you're on the honor roll, you're smart enough to know about contraception and pregnancy. You don't get carried away and state that 'For whatever reason, doing it didn't seem the same as having sex'. No intellectual character would EVER state that.
- The characters are utterly unrealistic. Just to clarify, in case you can't see that by the points I've made above. They're so obviously caricatures of genuine teenagers that it makes me wonder if Geoff Herbach was ever a teenager himself.
- OF COURSE Taco's mother is dead! Because in YA books nowadays the mothers either need to be dead or absent. The thing is, Taco dealt with his mother's death a little bit too well: he refused to cry when she was dying because he didn't want to make her sad, then when he's talking about her dying words he comments 'Anyway, I listened to the lady'. No teenage boy would refer to his DEAD MOTHER as THE LADY. ARGH.
- It's not cohesively told. Throughout the book, Taco is telling his story to the reader. Then, in the last chapter, it's made to sound as though Taco is writing a letter to his newborn child to tell him the story of how he came to be. If it had been told like that all the way through it might have been charming and adorable, but it sounds to me like Geoff Herbach didn't exactly know how to finish his book, so decided to sign it off like a letter. Barf.
- Nothing happens for the bulk of the book. So much happens at the end that you wouldn't even believe it, and that's the stuff that should have been developed. Instead of multiple montages of Taco and Maggie doing it wherever and whenever they could, Taco's relationship with his boss and father figure Nussbaum is something I actually wanted to read about! But instead that's all rushed, leading to a happily ever after that made me groan so loud I'm surprised people weren't complaining in China.
- It's meant to be funny, but it's really not. I can see that Geoff was playing up the ridiculousness of the characters to add humour to the situation, but it just doesn't work. When Darius, Taco's brother, crashes into Taco Bell, he gets wasted and tells Taco that he was trying to kill him - because of their similar names, he thought Taco Bell would do just as nicely! It doesn't take a lot to make me laugh, but 'Anything You Want' didn't even make me smile: it was trashy.
I have to stop.
There are more points that I could make about how dreadful this novel is, but I really don't want to waste any more of my time on it. I should have given up, but I struggle to stop reading books when I'm already more than half way through them - it's a day of my life that I'm not getting back, and I regret that. It just had SO MUCH POTENTIAL. This could have been wonderful and brilliant and hilarious and epic, but it ended up being nothing but a steaming pile of pain.
If you've read this review and you're still tempted to read 'Anything You Want', I admire your bravery and I wish you the best of luck with all of your future (dreadful) life decisions.