BOOK REVIEW: Things I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnikThings I Should Have Known by Claire LaZebnik
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Synopsis:

Things Chloe knew: Her sister, Ivy, was lonely. Ethan was a perfect match. Ethan’s brother, David, was an arrogant jerk.

Things Chloe should have known: Setups are complicated. Ivy can make her own decisions. David may be the only person who really gets Chloe.

Meet Chloe Mitchell, a popular Los Angeles girl who’s decided that her older sister, Ivy, who’s on the autism spectrum, could use a boyfriend. Chloe already has someone in mind: Ethan Fields, a sweet, movie-obsessed boy from Ivy’s special needs class.

Chloe would like to ignore Ethan’s brother, David, but she can’t—Ivy and Ethan aren’t comfortable going out on their own, so Chloe and David have to tag along. Soon Chloe, Ivy, David, and Ethan form a quirky and wholly lovable circle. And as the group bonds over frozen-yogurt dates and movie nights, Chloe is forced to confront her own romantic choices—and the realization that it’s okay to be a different kind of normal.

 

Shockingly enough, this was a book I had passed over because of a couple minuscule details I picked up on in the synopsis. But, seeing as how I have a very particular set of books that work for me nowadays, upon further inspection, this book looked like it was right up my alley. I mean, come on: Douchey guy, arch nemesis (pretty much the whole school’s, to be fair), being pushed together in a selfless act for their siblings…I just couldn’t help but balk and give this one a try. Though, I should have stuck with my first instinct.

“No, thank you,” she says as David catches it neatly in his free hand.
“I insist,” David says, and whips it back at them. It can’t possibly hurt anyone—I mean, it’s a bag of chips-but the gesture is violent, and they both cower away from the Lay’s with little noises of distress. .

Lately I find that I’m so picky that it’s beyond obnoxious. Almost nothing fits my tastes but what I literally have no time to read. Like, say, Victoria Schwab’s latest release. COME TO ME. But, alas, I refuse to ruin something because of time restraints that I know I’d love normally if I had time to read it within a few days. But, if I were to pick up my favorite genre at this time, YA Fantasy, I’d be ruining every book I attempted to soak in. So, here I am, trying to navigate the YA realistic fiction waters with blinders on.

David has one of those bland faces that would get him off for murder because not a single eyewitness would be able to describe him. They’d all be saying stuff like, “Oh, you know . . . hair that’s kind of brown . . . not that straight, but not curly either . . . His nose? Just kind of normal, I guess . . . Dark eyes, probably brown . . . Average size . . .” Meanwhile he’d be off killing a bunch more innocents. And they’d come interview everyone at our school, and we’d all be, like, “Yeah, I’m not surprised. Guy was weird.

^^^ Okay, this is actually one of those moments I laughed out loud….

Yes, sure, this is a favorite genre as well, but when you don’t have the same dialogue with all your GR friends [you used to] and don’t get to scroll the feed for common interests or things that pique your curiosity, you’re constantly stuck looking at the ‘books similar to’ section-and let’s face it: That’s basically a big pile of ‘less than.’ Not often do I find a winner in this section. But here I am, stuck looking and surfing and perusing these dumb attempts to grab suckers who actually think these books have anything in common with a book they adore and aren’t just cherry picked by GR. I never ever did this before because I had all the friend advice possible, guiding me through all the winners each and every time I was looking for an awesome read. Now, here I am, settling in amidst the bottom feeder section….who’s the sucker now?

“Okay,” she says. “Just not bowling. I don’t like bowling.”
“It’s because you’re not very good at it.” Ethan pats her shoulder consolingly. .

But I’m not totally being fair-I guess some of those comparisons are astute and I’m being a bit of a pessimist these days because I just. Can’t. Find. The TIME. To read and review-and it makes me sad. And, ya know, this book wasn’t half as bad as I’m making it out to be. I’m just always looking for that ‘wow factor’ now, and I’m trying to accomplish this with minimal effort-it just doesn’t work that way and I know better. You have to really pay attention and research to find new favorites-they don’t just fall into your lap. (Unless you have great friends like I do/did who are always telling you what you’d love every time you finish a book)

Ethan glares at him but opens his mouth, and David shoves the rice in. Ethan chews and swallows. “It still hurts.”
“You shouldn’t have eaten the chili pepper,” Ivy says. “Everyone knows they’re hot.”
“I didn’t mean to!” Ethan roars at her, spraying chewed-up rice across the table. “It got in my mouth on accident!”
“Chilis can be sneaky,” I say.
“Tricky little beasts,” David agrees. “You can’t trust a chili.”
“Bell peppers, though—they’re trustworthy.”
“The really evil ones are those little shishito bastards,” David says. “Some of them are hot, and some aren’t. You can’t tell until you bite into one. How is that fair?”
“It’s not,” I say. “It’s not fair at all.” .

But enough whining-this book was pretty cute, in concept. I loved the guy in this story (I already can’t remember their names, and it’s only been a couple weeks since I finished this…not a good sign), but found his character was a bit underdeveloped. Or, rather, he was unexplored. He was this mean guy at school, snarking at everyone’s opinions like he was God and knew all, but then all of a sudden he makes exceptions for our MC. Now, this might be me acting a tad selfish- I love assholes in books, and he just showed how nice he truly was too soon for my taste. I wanted a bit more asshole, a little less ‘now you see me for who I am’ so early on in the book… Not that he even said any such Disney type line, but you get it (I think). So, in a way, it was too quick a change of heart-for both characters.

I can’t decide if the world would be a better or worse place if everyone was as honest and literal as these two. Better in some ways, I guess, but maybe a little harsh? 

But what I’m not saying is that obviously we see a little more change in our MC because we are in her head (boring as it is), so it’s a bit more forgivable. With him, we are just like, WHAT? THAT’S IT? BE MEAN TO HER A LITTLE MORE! I think the feminists of the world might not like that statement…I’m sounding a bit crazy. But I am who I am, so oops. Let’s move on.

“Come on,” I say, and shove him toward the exit. “Let’s go. But admit you were wrong about that whole kissing in public thing. It’s not such a crime.”
“It is when I’m not the one kissing you.”
“Were you jealous of James? Even back then?”
“I don’t know,” he says. “Not exactly. And you guys were pretty annoying. I was sincerely disgusted by you”
“Thanks.”
“But I’ll admit that if I’d been standing where he was standing, I’d probably have had a different view of the whole thing.” 

I didn’t mind the big discovery and the exploration of different…tastes…but I just thought it was handled so oddly-I think this is perhaps just my opinion, though, so take that as you will. It seems like others really enjoyed the secondary character’s adventures, so I stand alone here.

One thing I WILL stand firm on, though, is the shortness of the chapters-I hate this. I have NEVER liked this. And I never will. I kind of thought it made for a disjointed story and mixed it up to the point I didn’t even feel like I could immerse myself into the book-one minute we’re getting somewhere, and then it’s abruptly onto the next chapter. Not a fan. And the characters, or at least our main girl, were written a bit juvenile and a touch vapid-in a ditsy, not easy to relate to way. And I found the way our main guy’s brother was handled/treated was off-handed and not handled the way it should have been…It was just thrown in there and not explored as much as I think it should have been. And his family (And her boyfriend for that matter). Give me a break. Keep your money, cuz I’m not buyin’ it. Just…so odd, if you ask me. So, I think these are by far my largest problems with this book.
Had these details been more fleshed out, I would have had a much larger respect for the story and I wouldn’t have been so nitpicky-but when you can’t help but skim and roll your eyes and continually think-THAT’S IT?! Then there is something wrong.

This review was odd, had stunted writing, and was more like a list of reasons I liked and disliked everything-but who am I trying to impress? I disliked this story and it was handled poorly. IT HAD SO MUCH POTENTIAL. Sooo much wasted potential. Perhaps if a little more effort had been put into the story, I’d have written a more fleshed out review. But, as it is, I don’t give a damn. Oh well.

***Upon further review looking back at the quotes I’d chosen when I read the book [before writing the review], I did think there were a lot of cute moments and I laughed out loud a lot. The main character was actually kind of a funny smart-ass….so…..snaps to her. Also, David (ahh that’s his name, lol) was so sweet-I already said this, but he really was. And his brother was really funny. So, just a positive note to add to my surly review. What’s funny is, I was in a GREAT mood when I wrote the original review…and right now I’m in a HORRID mood….yet I’m being nicer. Curiouser and curiouser….

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