Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

TITLE: A Really Awesome Mess
AUTHOR: Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
PUBLISHER/YEAR: EgmontUSA / July 2013
SOURCE: For Review from Publisher via NetGalley

Goodreads / Trish Cook's Website / Brendan Halpin's Website

Okay so this is the first review I've written in months; fair warning, it's going to be rough. I have to admit I read this book awhile ago. It was my phone book; you know that book you keep on your phone in case you get stuck in line or have some down time at work. So not only has it been months since I've looked at it and I take horrible notes, but I read it in a really piece meal manner, just a few pages here or there. I can't see how that won't affect my review. So keeping that in mind I'm going to be as fair as I can.

Emmy and Justin are the two protagonists here. They've both ended up at Heartland Academy, a sort of reform school for trouble youths, because of their various issues. Emmy after threatening a boy who leaked compromising photos of her online and Justin after he attempts suicide with Tylenol. Of course there is more to each story. The book follows these two teens as they work through the issues despite denying their need to be at the school.

I'm not one for issue books. I'm always so critical of them and have never really given them a chance. However, the cover for A Really Awesome Mess kind of drew me in. Bright colours do it for me, what can I say. I picked up this book not really knowing what to expect. Like I knew the kids were going to be all kinds of messed up (just look at the title), but other than that, no clue. Here's the thing, I didn't love it, but I liked it more than I like most issue books. I don't have super strong feelings either way as there were moments that won me over, but at the same time, moments that infuriated me.

I never felt totally engaged with the characters. The decisions they made, the decisions their parents at times made, I didn't relate nor did I totally feel for them. However, that could be because I read it in spurts and would wait weeks before picking it up again. Both Emmy and Justin were infuriating as were the supporting characters. There issues are so deep seated that throughout the novel nobody really seems to gain a better understanding of why they're there. They don't have empathy. They are just so focused on themselves. However, the positive side of this is that it really does illustrate how these illnesses can manifest themselves and change people. They're selfish, yes, but is it really them or the battles they're currently dealing with? It also helps that they show some growth throughout the story and I did like that everybody's issues weren't neatly wrapped up by the end. Change was slow, which felt realistic.

I also appreciated that this wasn't a super dark read. They kids kind of banded together. They weren't perfect, they fought, but they also had adventures and supported each other. That's when this book was at it's best. Even when they made a few destructive decisions, they were doing something that I as a reader could root for.

There is a secondary love story in there, which I didn't really care about either way. Fortunately it wasn't the major focus of the novel as each teen had there own issues going on that took precedence.

I don't know if I would recommend A Really Awesome Mess, but it's a fairly quick read that has its moments. I grew to appreciate it more the longer I read and I could see the right person really enjoying it, but for me, it was just all right.


  1. I really like the cover of this book too. But I usually like "issue" books, so maybe I'll be into it more than you were. Also I enjoy books I can read quick (since my TBR is so freaking big!!)

    1. I completely agree about fast reads. Sometimes it's nice to have something you can read and enjoy between the longer ones.