This book is currently the #1 bestseller on Amazon in the very specific and wildly-spoilery category “Teen & Young Adult Death & Dying Fiction.” Of course that is a category! Especially after the runaway success of John Green’s 2012 tearjerker The Fault in Our Stars.
Like that now-classic of the apparently-it’s-a-genre, Five Feet Apart has also received the movie treatment, with the recent release of the film starring the latest in hot young things (though at least these two young love interests haven’t played siblings elsewhere.) The interesting part about this book and its filmic counterpart is that they were released almost simultaneously, enough that the book is kind of a novelization of the film, because it turns out both were pitched at the same time. (And which explains why the book has three authors, I guess.) What confuses me is that the version I bought isn’t a movie tie-in cover, even though the book only came out four months before the film did — is this an attempt to legitimize it, and make it seem like a non-novelization, after all?
Probably. And I fell for it, like the sap I am.
It’s not a terrible book, for the most part. It’s set in a hospital, into which opposites-attract teens Stella and Will — both suffers of cystic fibrosis — have been remanded for a long stay, and are ordered to stay away from each other, because Will carries a pathogen in his lungs that could kill Stella, should she contract it. Eventually, the kids decide they’re in love, and that lung transplants are rare, and fuck it, they’re going to die anyway, and they live for the moment and such, but along the way there is tragedy and heartbreak and a lot of dickiness from Will, and yeah, it’s almost exactly what I expected it to be, except maybe a bit worse.
I should probably stop reading these dying kids books. Why even do we read them? Some kind of affirmation of life? As an exercise in what-would-I-do? Schadenfreude? I don’t know, but I’m not sure I like what it says about me, or about us as a society. Then again, we read dying adult books all the time — though it is noteworthy that there isn’t an equivalent “Death & Dying” category in regular fiction on Amazon — and we do it because of the extremes of emotion that such situations can evoke, as well as the compulsion we all have for a doomed love story, which we all have, for some reason. I blame Shakespeare.
Anyway. Of all the Young Adult Death & Dying books out there, this is… another one. It’s fine. It’s sad. It has some mixed messages about life, and Cole Sprouse plays Will in the film version. I don’t hate that I read it.
But I’m pretty sure I hate that this type of fiction is so prevalent that it has its own category. I can’t get past it. It’s just so wrong.
TBR DAY 108: Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, Mikki Daughtry and Tobias Iaconis
GENRE: YA Romance
TIME ON THE TBR: 5 months.
PURCHASED FROM: Dymocks Booksellers.