I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.
First, let me admit that when I downloaded it from the library, I thought it was The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. I know, I know. The covers aren’t thatsimilar, but they were similar enough to mix me up. Once I realized that it wasn’t what I thought it was, I looked it up, and upon seeing that the author writes for Cosmopolitan, I was a bit dubious. Very judgmental, I know. But my point is that I went into it not expecting to like the book, and by the end, I had completely changed my opinion.
So, this book does not start off well. The first chapter is a mess, and the main character, Ani, is difficult to like. I read many descriptions of her as an anti-hero, and I suppose that’s true. Still, I was impressed by her aggressiveness, her willingness to be a complete bitch in order to get what she wants. I guess it doesn’t say good things about me, but yeah, I was impressed. I have a tendency to be a pushover, and Ani clearly isn’t. I liked that about her.
Once I was into the book, I was totally into it. I think I read it in two days, and both of those nights, I stayed up way too late reading. I totally did not see the twists coming. I assumed Ani was going to be sexually assaulted, because that was the direction things seemed to be heading in. Honestly, though, so much of the book talked about her guilt and the thing she did… my guess was that she killed her rapist or something.
I was blown away by the school shooting. Didn’t see it coming at all. I tend to pigeonhole books, I think, and I guess in my mind, I thought, “this is a book about rape.” So obviously that’s the big plot, and that’s the focus of the book. I didn’t expect a whole ‘nother huge conflict. I feel odd about that, because I feel like, I don’t know, does there come a point where you’ve just got too many conflicts going on? At the same time, though, it didn’t seem to hurt the story. In fact, I thought that the shooting part was exceptionally well-written.
I also believe that Knoll did a great job of portraying Ani’s emotions after the shooting. The way she freaked out upon being touched, was jumpy when hearing loud noises… and the fact that all of these things were still an issue even once Ani was grown really stood out to me. One of my favorite scenes was the one when Ani and Andrew hid under the desk in the classroom at Bradley. Her sort-of flashback to hiding behind a table during the shooting was so well-written and natural, and again, something I didn’t see coming.
Some things I didn’t like/wondered about:
1. When she went by TifAni FaNelli, does the weird capitalization change the pronunciation? Is she just called Tiffany? Or are we supposed to read it as “Tiff-AHNI”? I ask because in my opinion, capitalization should mean something and have purpose. Also, when Ani talked to Dean and told him to call her Ani, he said “Like the end…” which I assume meant “the end of TifAni.” Maybe I’m just dumb.
2. In keeping with the “maybe I’m just dumb” theme… I actually had to look up who “the five” were when I finished the book. In retrospect, I should’ve picked up on it, but I don’t think the author really made that clear.
3. The ending… oh, the ending. I keep up with where I am, percentage-wise, as I read. The e-book version that I had included reading guides and a bunch of other supplemental stuff at the end. So when the book ended for me at 94%, it completely caught me off guard. It felt like the author had to rush to finish, and just threw the ending together. I want to know exactly what happened at the wedding. As Nell said, it was going to be a “shit show” – but we got to see none of it.
4. So many characters that didn’t matter. So many names to keep up with, then realize that you don’t have to keep up with them at all.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There are some major, important themes here, and I think Knoll handled them well.