Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen

Both of Me

By Jonathan Friesen

BlurbIt was supposed to be just another flight, another escape into a foreign place where she could forget her past, forget her attachments. Until Clara found herself seated next to an alluring boy named Elias Phinn—a boy who seems to know secrets she has barely been able to admit to herself for years.

When her carry-on bag is accidentally switched with Elias’s identical pack, Clara uses the luggage tag to track down her things. At that address she discovers there is not one Elias Phinn, but two: the odd, paranoid, artistic, and often angry Elias she met on the plane, who lives in an imaginary world of his own making called Salem; and the kind, sweet, and soon irresistible Elias who greets her at the door, and who has no recollection of ever meeting Clara at all. As she learns of Elias’s dissociative identity disorder, and finds herself quickly entangled in both of Elias’s lives, Clara makes a decision that could change all of them forever. She is going to find out what the Salem Elias knows about her past, and how, even if it means playing along with his otherworldly quest. And she is going to find a way to keep the gentle Elias she’s beginning to love from ever disappearing again.

Genres: Young Adult Romance

Publication Date: December 23, 2014

Pages: 272

Series: N/A

My Rating: 1 star

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Oh my god. I started this book, and immediately there was a feeling of dislike. I originally picked it up because of its portrayal of DID, but quickly realized that its portrayal of this disorder didn't handle it well at all. Really, Both of Me was a bit of a trainwreck.

Clara is a really self-centered heroine. The things she does and the way she acts made me dislike her almost immediately. There's little change in her throughout the majority of the book--meaning I had to put up with the girl's incessant whining and complaining and just generally being selfish. 

I wanted to like Elias. He has Dissociative Identity Disorder, meaning has multiple personalities. In this case, there is only one other personality besides the host personality, and that is this strange version of him who goes by the same name but believes that he lives in a fantasy land called Salem. I really didn't feel like this was a realistic portrayal of DID; I may not be an expert, but I've researched it and read a fair share of articles about it, and I don't think that Elias' condition really represents what most people suffering from this disorder go through. Notice I say most; it could be possible that Elias is just a little different than the norm for DID, and this is all plausible. HOWEVER, the ending, and (SPOILER)
how Elias was 'cured' of his DID just was not right. Usually, people with DID undergo intense therapy in order to join together all their different personalities and still retain all their histories...and that's really simplifying the process. It's very complicated, and even with successful therapy, people can still relapse. You can't just go to the place where the tramautic event that caused DID (or, usually events, since DID is most commonly found in those who have undergone horrible abuse in their childhood) and suddenly be 'cured' of it. IT DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY.(END SPOILER)

I am still a bit confused on the relationship between him and Clara, because it didn't really feel like a romance to me. Which is kind of good, since it means the ultra-passionate lustiness that passes for romance in a lot of YA was not here, but also weird, because until one of the characters actually said that they loved each other, I was kind of confused on the nature of the relationship.

I still am not 100% sure on what the heck happened with the plot. It was so bizarre; I had a hard time keeping up with why exactly everything was happening, because it just didn't make logical sense! Like at times it was the equivalent of putting a dollar in the vending machine, pressing the button for a bag of pretzels, and getting...I don't know, a squid or something. Everything was so over the top and crazy.

Not helping was the writing style. Clara was narrating, and she would make it seem like staying at an inn too long was like trying to figure out the mysteries of the universe. Everything was way too melodramatic. 

Both of Me had a good idea, but every single thing about it was messy. I found myself getting interested near the last 15% of the book, but even that got ruined, as I mentioned in the spoiler-y paragraph above. Beautiful cover, interesting blurb, but the story in between the two? Nah.

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