Fabulous Terrible: The Adventures of You
by Sophie Talbot
YA fiction. 231pp.
In six short months, your entire life has gone into turnaround . . .
"Oh my God. Emily, I got in!!!
Trumbull Woodhouse! THE most exclusive, most expensive, most amazing all-girl boarding school has just accepted YOU! It's the school that turns out famous CEOs, notorious movie stars, and even a Nobel prize winner. And you? You're just this girl from Hatterly, South Carolina. Just some orphan kid with a dysfunctional foster family and a secret.
What secret? You see things. Things from the future. Whole scenes, actually—like movies in your brain, only then they turn out to be real. You used to think everyone got them . . . but then people started to think you were crazy. So you stopped talking about them, and now your episodes are getting worse. How are you going to hide them living with a bunch of strangers 24/7?
You try to stay below the radar and fit into your new life, that's how. But an unknown enemy tries to undermine your every effort to belong. Meanwhile, you begin to suspect your new alma mater has a past as strange and difficult as your own. A society sworn to uphold the founder's deepest secrets has become divided. A war for power seethes just under the campus's placid calm. And a mysterious missing book of predictions is about to change your world forever . . .
I have mixed feelings about this book. There are some things I rather like. There are some things I find intriguing. There are some things that drive me crazy. It's been a week since I finished it, and I'm still not sure how I really feel about it.
Let's just get this out of the way . . . Spelling and punctuation is often a disgusting mess. It's not the worst I've seen this year, but it's downright lamentable.
The plot is sloooooooooow. Aside from the introductory parts, you really don't have anything happen until maybe fifty pages form the end. However. Once that plot starts, it's actually quite interesting. Sure, it's a take on Harry Potter, but the environment works. And the premise that's finally explained is interesting enough that I'm considering reading the second book. (I don't see it listed online, though the third book is.)
The characters are conceived well. I think the author has done a good job of taking stock characters and tweaking them just enough that they're clear and interesting individuals.
The point where I'm most befuddled about my feelings is the voice. To preface, the publisher is the same as produced the Choose Your Own Adventure books that I dearly loved in my youth. They were fun and empowering for a reader. This book, as were those, is told in the second person. I find the novelty of that to be intriguing, and so when the publisher sent me the book, I was anxious to read it and see how it worked.
I'm not sure if it does. You see, second person more directly places the reader in the protagonist's body. With the CYOA books, this worked because the reader was able to make decisions that affected the plot that he or she was reading. This book, though, is a straight narrative told in that voice. I personally found myself conflicted because this character was now imposing her values on me. And there were decisions she made that I strongly disagreed with, but I had no choice but to go through with them. She was much more passive than I, and she withheld information from others when I wouldn't have. As a reader, this left me with a bit of anxiety. It's one thing to identify with a character, but it's quite another to be a character.
When all is said and done, I'm left feeling that this story might have been better told in first person. I think it would have flowed more naturally and been more compelling.
Even so, as I said, I'm mixed on my review. I think I'll give the second book a chance to see how it fairs.