25 Feb2014

Review: Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski

Review: Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah MlynowskiDon't Even Think About It
by Sarah Mlynowski
Publisher: Random House Children's
Genre: Contemporary, Drama, YA
Release Date: March 11, 2014
Pages: 320
Source: Received in exchange for review
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.

Goodreads Purchase

My Review

Don’t Even Think About It  had quite an interesting premise (which was completely unrealistic but I was willing to put that aside) to me which happened to grab my attention. After reading a lot of more serious books recently, I needed a light and fluffy contemporary to switch things up.

Sadly enough Don’t Even Think About It  didn’t do that for me. Contrary to the title, thinking was very much involved with this novel. It’s told in a sole shared point of view to begin with, one where everybody who has contracted ESP tells the story.This means the story isn’t narrated by a single person but rather as a collective group, using the pronoun ‘we’. This definitely took some getting used to, as I’m not used to stories being told this way so it was initially off putting. However it made sense in the fact that these are a group of people can all read each other’s mind, therefore one person’s thoughts are heard by everybody. This point of view still managed to be hard to keep track of though, as 22 plus people had contracted ESP. They would also interject random thoughts that didn’t really seem important or necessary to the story.

Once you finally got used to the odd ‘we’ point of view, Don’t Even Think About It decided to move on. It went on to focus more on six particular students who had ESP, with the other “espies” interjecting their thoughts. A few times it would jump back into the ‘we’ point of view, but for the majority of the time it focused on the six students.

I wish that the six students had been better picked, I really enjoyed only two of them. The rest felt undeveloped and bland. I didn’t feel any connection to them nor did I relate to them. I simply just felt like an uninterested outside observer. It made most of the characters not very memorable and very vanilla. Most of them didn’t have great character development nor any sustenance to them. Backstory was non-existent for the majority of the characters. I wish the author had chosen other characters to focus on. Some of the ones she rarely used actually interested me the most and I believe had great potential.

The one character I quite enjoyed was Olivia. She was a character who suffered with anxiety. I believe the portrayal of this was realistic and so was her development throughout the story. Her concerns felt like ones that I could sympathize with. She doesn’t magically become void of anxiety, but does grow a bit of confidence as the story goes on. Olivia seems to be the most round character in this story. She was also one of the few characters who actually had a relationship with her family. For the majority of the characters in the book, their parents seem to be non-existent.

Mackenzie was a character I couldn’t stand. She was flat, there was really nothing more to her then a pretty face. Oh, and a horrible personality prone to making stupid decisions. Mackenzie has a super sweet boyfriend, whom she cheats on. This isn’t a spoiler as you’re made aware of what happens fairly early on. The person she cheated on her boyfriend with? Somebody Mackenzie had a previous fling with who had clearly displayed that he had zero interest in having an actual relationship with her, other than one that was purely sexual.

Makes sense, right? You’re dating a perfectly sweet and understanding guy, so cheating on him with a total skeezeball is the only thing to do.

Not only did Mackenzie make that awful decision, she’s also a horrible best friend to Tess. Mackenzie continuously lies to Tess. Even worse then that is Mackenzie’s rude and uncalled for comments about her weight, a subject that Mackenzie would definitely know that Tess is highly self-conscious about. Why would Mackenzie know about her Tess and her previous issues with her weight? Oh, maybe because Tess actually trusts undeserving Mackenzie with the fact that she previously suffered bulimia. Yet Mackenzie continues to treat like horribly.

“If you went to the gym twice a week, you’d be gorgeous!”

“Your mom is crazy, I’m not siding with her,” Mackenzie said, but she couldn’t help thinking, eight pounds, maybe.

The above quotes clearly showcase Mackenzie’s truly disgraceful attitude.    It’s bad enough that Tess has her mother bitching on about her perfectly fine weight, but having your supposed best friend join on it? Unforgivable. I couldn’t stand the book whenever Mackenzie was involved and even though there was a supposed reason for her behavior, it felt weak. I don’t think much could make me enjoy Mackenzie’s character, but the flimsy excuse for her actions definitely didn’t make me enjoy Mackenzie. Sadly Tess didn’t feel the same way and would continuously forgive Mackenzie after being angry for about 5 seconds.  Then Mackenzie would go on to insult Tess again, it was all a vicious cycle. The fact that this poisonous friendship was presented in a novel marketed for young adults was frankly disconcerting for me. Since nothing was done to prove that friendship wasn’t in fact okay, it was like Don’t Even Think About It was perpetuating that toxic friendships are okay. Promoting this to potentially impressionable teens doesn’t sit right with me at all.

Another thing I had a quibble with was how this book is garnered for teens. As a teenager myself, I found myself not enjoying the book. I found the book to have a very immature tone, the humor was quite juvenile. I was definitely rolling my eyes more than laughing. One of the characters has a nickname of BJ, something that is supposed to be a joke. Yeah, I think my 12 year old brother is the only person who would find that hilarious. You can tell this book tries soooooo  freaking hard to be relatable to us young adults and it simply doesn’t work. It came out contrived and stereotypical. I honestly think that this book would be better suited for middle grade audience, if you took out Mackenzie’s character and toned down a few other aspects. I feel like that audience may have enjoyed it more? Or not, maybe no age group would be able to connect with this one.

The premise? Honestly it took a backseat to juvenile drama and romances that were so plain and suffered from a lack of chemistry. If the premise lived up to it’s potential then perhaps I would have enjoyed the book more.

Overall this a book that is highly character driven, which is a pretty big issue when the characters are either completely vanilla or unlikable. The humor and target age for this one seems completely off base. The odd way the POV was done was pretty distracting and led to a whole lot of run on sentences. Sadly, I wouldn’t recommend this one.

~Thank you Random House Children’s for sending me this copy!~

1.5 Stars

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Larissa was born and still is living in the land of ice, snow and maple syrup. She's 17 years old and really has no idea what to do with her life lately. Larissa's plans are contantly changing--though there’s one thing has remained constant throughout her seventeen years, and that’s reading. It takes her to another world and puts her into impossible situations and that’s why she loves it so much.

27 Responses to “Review: Don’t Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski”

    • Larissa

      Yeah, it could definitely be off putting at times. The premise made the book sound like it could have been great, which makes me even more upset that I didn’t enjoy it. I also rarely liked cheaters in books, unless everything is super well developed and explained.

      YES!!! (:

  1. Cait @ Notebook Sisters

    Nope, nope, nope. Avoiding this one. Warning bells hit me at the weird POVs. I mean, I don’t like to judge a book that’s trying to do something original and fresh, but I DO struggle to read that kind of stuff! But the annoying humour also worries me. Books that try too hard are…no. They drive me insane. Mind you, this is the second review I’ve read of this today and the first gave it a 3….soooo, maybe some people will like it. But I think I’ll give it the skip. ;) Fabulous review!
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    • Larissa

      Yeah odd POV’s can honestly change the course of a book for me. It simply makes the book tough to read and understand. For me Don’t Even Think About it fell into the cheesy and immature humor pit. It totally tried to hard. Of course, everybody has a different sense of humor so there’s a chance you’d enjoy it. I’ll have to see the other review which gave it a 3! I can see why somebody would give it a three, however the negatives in this books just overwhelmed the positives for me. Thank you Cait! :)

    • Larissa

      Haha, my TBR list is a monstrous one too. So many books, so little time :P I try to be quite detailed in my reviews, sometimes I think they might be a bit too in depth. Lol, glad you enjoyed it though.

    • Larissa

      Yeah the premise is quite far fetched, however I still hoped this book would be like a funny satire. That wasn’t the case sadly. I completely agree, the promotion of toxic relationships in a novel garnered to teens? Simply awful. Thank you Jeann (:

    • Larissa

      I hadn’t heard about it till I was invited to get it a try. I’m actually quite sad I didn’t enjoy it. No problem (:

    • Larissa

      The narration really did throw me for a loop and not in a good way. I also have read one other book by Sarah, didn’t mind it at all. Think I actually gave it 3.5 stars.

  2. Siiri

    Larisssssaaaa!!!! Fluffy and light are so my things after dark reads and I’m glad we have that in common. I’m sorry this one disappointed you though. Um. We POV? Oh, no. I hate that. I’m glad you found at least one character to root for. Cheating? Oh, no, please don’t. Please. I didn’t have this book on my tbr, but honestly? I feel like all the points you have made make me feel like I wouldn’t enjoy this in any case. I’m sorry it went like this, but I hope you will get to read a book soon that will be added among your favorites:)
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    • Larissa

      Siirrrrrrriiiiiii! (: haha. After everything dark and serious, light and fluffy are the best reads. Glad we have that in common to. Yeah, don’t think I’ve ever read a book with a ‘we’ POV before. I didn’t enjoy it clearly lol. Olivia was the shining star in this book :) Yeah, I don’t think a lot of people would enjoy this, unless they overlooked the clear flaws. Thank you Siiri!

  3. Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain

    Ugh looks like I’m definitely going to be skipping this one! I haven’t heard particularly positive things about her previous book, so I didn’t have very high expectations for this book. I definitely would be irked by Mackenzie as well, especially those quotes. Your beauty is NOT defined by your weight, and I know beautiful skinny girls, not-so-skinny but still beautiful girls, beautiful girls who are the perfect weight, everything. I’d be so annoyed if the tone was as juvenile as it sounds. And a nickname like BJ? I feel like it’d be funny at first but soon get old. Fantastic review, though Larissa! Sorry this one wasn’t for you :( <33
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    • Larissa

      I’ve read one book by Sarah and actually didn’t mind it too badly. This one was a completely different story though. Mackenzie drove me up the wall. Yes! It’s bad enough that the general media promotes skinny, but a book dedicated to teens who may have all of this self-esteem issues? Ugh. It really was juvenile and immature. Thank you Eileen <33

    • Larissa

      Haha I’m actually okay with multiple POV’s, usually. This book definitely didn’t work for me though, truly was impossible to follow.

  4. Faye @ The Social Potato

    Love this review! You definitely argued your arguments well. Usually for me I’m fine with characters that are selfish and sarcastic and snarky, as long as there is a good reason behind such attitude (like a tough home or something like that) and as long as she matures later on. I mean that’s the point of stories, right? To not only impart a story but to impart values and lessons, and honestly Mackenzie seems to be the total opposite of that. Making a character bad to the point that the reader becomes frustrated is lame-o in my point of view (unless it’s a horror story and it doesn’t end well for them… in that case, I shall celebrate by opening a bottle of champagne).

    And that kid called BJ? Yeah, totally contrived, as you said. Even I wouldn’t be laughing at that; I’ll only roll my eyes and say, “Yeah, veeeery original /sarcasm/”. I’d totally 1 star a book like this for these very reasons alone :|

    Great review, Larissa!
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    • Larissa

      Thank you! Haha that’s my goal with reviews. Yeah I liked flawed characters, but there’s definitely something wrong when they remained flawed throughout the book or have absolutely nothing positive going for them. Yeah I honestly saw no growth with Mackenzie whatsoever.

      Ugh, BJ. That was exactly my reaction to it. Really the only reason this book got 1.5 stars instead of one was due to Olivia.

      Merci(:

    • Larissa

      Yeah this one was quite disappointing. I’ve read one other SM book and gave it three stars, it was super cute from what I remember (: The book was titled Gimme a Call. The POVs were definitely overpowering.