Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Review - Everything You Know by Mary Beth Bass

Author: Mary Beth Bass
Release Date: September 27, 2013
Pages: 398, ebook
Goodreads Rating: 4.5 stars
My Rating: 2/5 stars
My Content Rating: PG-16+ (Language; lots of references to sex, though it's not actually shown)

Summary from Goodreads: A dark forest, a screaming woman and blood. These are the images that haunt seventeen year old Emma from the moment she meets Joe Castlellaw. And so much more awaits.

Emma Mathews never believed she was like everyone else, but neither did she think herself crazy. Meeting Joe Castlellaw, Henry Dearborn High’s newest student, was like waking on a cold rock in a strange place, the world bathed in liquid moonlight. Everything is different now…and fraught. Visions of a dark forest, a screaming woman and blood have begun to haunt Emma’s dreams, and not only at night. But Joe’s lonely beauty makes her float on air, and she would follow him anywhere—out of high school and through the great tree, to a world of poetry and political savagery, of magic and murder, to a life that is entirely theirs and yet unlike anything they have ever known.

I signed up to do a tour for this book and was really excited about it, based on the synopsis.  Unfortunately, it didn't live up to my expectations and I found myself getting more and more frustrated with the book as I read on.  

The positives:
  • Worldbuilding.  Bass obviously spent a lot of time creating the world that this book takes place in, complete with its own political structure, language, folklore and backstory.  The idea of Soulmates was central to the book, but these were special Soulmates with very special properties.  The concept of this book was well thought-out and unique!
  • Poetry and literature.  There were tons of references to famous poetry and classic literature that will excite literature lovers!
What I wasn't crazy about:
  • Emma and Joe.  My biggest problem with this book was that I just didn't like either of the main characters.  They were both selfish and generally irritating as far as I was concerned.  The way that Emma talked to her parents made me want to strangle her - she seemed to think that she was SO much smarter than they were and would, of course, have handled everything much better than they did, and she had no problem telling them so (usually while yelling).  Joe's main goal in life was to have sex with Emma, and he would get really mad and treat her badly whenever she said she wasn't ready.  Um, but he's her Soulmate and they are meant to have sex, so of course it's okay.  I just got so sick of Joe's immature behavior, his moodiness and his insistence that Emma have sex with him now, that I couldn't bring myself to like him even a little bit.  He was not my idea of a great romantic interest.  Emma was slightly better than Joe, but I honestly didn't find myself liking her all that much either.  Because of this, I couldn't really enjoy the book!
  • Everybody's special.  Another problem that I had with this book was that almost every character was supposed to be ultra-special.  Yes, they have abilities - but that's not enough - their abilities are extra-special, even among their own kind.  I don't want to spoil much about what their actual abilities are (or who "their kind" are), but practically every character had to be incredibly rare and have a very special ability or be stronger than any other person with that ability in centuries.  I just started to roll my eyes every time that we found out that someone else had ultra-special superpowers.
  • Confusing.  While I loved the worldbuilding in this book, I did feel that sometimes Bass went a little overboard with tons of confusing details and side-stories.  There was the whole concept of Soulmates, but then she had to throw in people without Soulmates (apparently very rare, but of course one of the characters was this type of person).  Then there were the political parties which were sometimes referred to with their names and sometimes as The Ones in Power and The Resisters.  There were a lot of political details, and I found myself feeling bored when they were talked about in detail.  Then toward the end of the book, we find out that there is an even more dangerous enemy that is out to truly destroy everyone.  To be honest, I'm still not 100% sure how they were defeated in the end - I'm not sure if it was really unclear or if I just found myself not caring enough to figure it all out by that point, though.
Unfortunately, Everything You Know just wasn't for me.  While I certainly didn't hate it, it was ultimately unsatisfying.  People who really enjoy complicated worldbuilding (and don't mind the main characters) might like this book a lot more than I did.  There are plenty of other people who loved this book, so I guess it just didn't work for me.  I give it 2/5 stars.

***Disclosure: This book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given. All opinions are my own***