Wednesday, 3 August 2016

'Don't Even Think About It' (Don't Even Think About It #1) by Sarah Mlynowski

*This review will contain spoilers!*
'Maybe you think Olivia is telling this story. Or Mackenzie, or Cooper, or someone else in our home-room you haven't met. 
It could be any of us. But it's not. It's all of us. We're telling you the story together. It's the only way we know how. 
This is the story of how we became freaks. 
It's how a group of Is became a we.'

'We were not always freaks.
Sure, most of us occasionally exhibited freakish behavior. But that's not the same thing.' 
With the cover looking like such an adorable contemporary, this opening statement asserts that all is not as it seems. Colour me intrigued.

Homeroom 10B get their flu shots (all of them except for Renée and Adam - who never turns up to class anyway, so really isn't relevant but keeps getting mentioned...) and they experience side effects. What kind of side effects? Nausea, headaches, and - in their batch at least - telepathy and purple eyes.
So far, so freaky.
They decide not to tell anyone about their newfound powers because they know they'll be forced to give them up, and having telepathy gives you all kinds of boosts in life. Pi, previously second smartest in the school, manages to cheat off of Jon, the smartest kid. Olivia has always been shy, but using her telepathy she discovers that Lazar likes her and she finally manages to get a boyfriend.
Oh, but then there's Cooper, who finds out that his girlfriend Mackenzie cheated on him with Bennett, the tool who lives in her apartment building. And Tess, who has had a crush on her best friend Teddy for as long as she can remember, but finds out that he's constantly fantasizing about Sadie, another of the Espies.
Maybe telepathy isn't as great as they all first thought...

It's just such an intriguing concept for a book.
I worry that it could be taken a little bit too literally (the flu vaccine gives you awful side effects! Don't take vaccines ever!) because some people seem to cling to any excuse not to get injections, but I'm hoping with all of my fingers crossed that the kind of audience that will be reading this book aren't naive enough to think that it could actually happen.
The ability to hear thoughts has been dealt with in books before, but I've never seen it tackled on this scale. The entire homeroom (except for the previously mentioned two) have the power, which means there are 22 people reading each others thoughts. It can be hard to follow everything that's going on, particularly with all the relationship drama I laid out up above. I definitely enjoyed the book, but it takes a lot of concentration to keep track of everyone.
There's also a lot of generic teenage characters. Olivia's mother suffers with OCD, so she finds herself panicking about illnesses a lot at the beginning of the book, but that seems to be magically cured with the confidence she finds from the telepathy. Other than that aspect it features all of the teenage high school stereotypes: the over-achieving genius, the sleazy pervert (called BJ, like it could be any more obvious...), the bitchy cheat, the slightly chubby girl who can't get out of the friend zone.
While the idea is interesting and unique, the characters definitely aren't.

A brilliant concept, but the execution is lacking. I'm looking forward to the sequel, 'Think Twice', because it seems like there's a lot that can be done with this story, especially now such a large cast of characters have been established and fleshed out.
Most of the novel is setting up the story, but that's necessary, and Sarah Mlynowski definitely thought hard about the story behind the telepathy and what exactly went wrong with the vaccine. Well researched with not many loopholes or obvious questions left at the end of the novel: on the whole a lot of fun and a light, easy read.

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