Review: Highly Illogical Behaviour, John Corey Whaley

It’s not a secret anymore, books about mental illnesses are important, and lately they have been taking the front row in lots of bookshops and in lots of bloggers’ hearts. If some books manage to write a decent portrayal of complex illnesses, some others romanticize the whole thing and sometimes even manage to find unrealistic cures to it all. But we all know life’s not that easy. In Highly Illogical Behaviour, the author manages to write realistic characters and struggles, and he manages to show us a real story about mental illness, friendship, overcoming your issues and, most of it all, he makes everything feel real.

A CHARACTER-DRIVEN STORY

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β€œWe’re just floating in space trying to figure out what it means to be human.”

On one side, we have Solomon. He doesn’t get out of his house, ever. He’s agoraphobic. If this whole idea of staying in one house reminded me of the book, Everything, Everything, the story as a whole was completely on different focuses, with different characters and issues, and ultimately this is what made me love the book so much. It felt true, real, and unique in its own way. On the other side, we have Lisa. She doesn’t even know Solomon, but somehow she wants to β€œfix” him, in order to write a brilliant paper to get into a psychology program at university. Two completely different characters collide in this story. Highly Illogical is not a plot-driven, but much rather a character-driven story.

REAL CHARACTERS, STRUGGLES AND OWN VOICES

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β€œShe knew it was weird that she’d reached out to him the way she had. But she also knew that there were a lot of people in the world who regretted never doing the things they felt were right because they were afraid of seeming strange or crazy. Lisa wouldn’t settle for that sort of mediocre existence, one bound by invisible social cues. And she had a good feeling that someone like Solomon Reed would appreciate that.”

Told from both Lisa and Solomon’s point of view, we get two different stories, personalities, goals and daily struggles. If they collide more than once by slowly becoming friends and increasing each other’s presence in their lives, they each, from the start and until the very last page, had their own voice, which I appreciated so, so much. Solomon’s insecure, not really sure how to talk to other people after being only with his parents for so long. He’s anxious about the whole world outside, but yet he managed to create his own little bubble inside of the house. He still has dreams, and everything about his character felt real. It’s always a bit tricky to describe how characters with a mental illness are feeling, but I thought that the author managed to write that pretty decently, with accurate and gripping descriptions of his own struggles, his panic attacks and his own fears. Ultimately, this is what made me enjoy the book so much: how real the character felt. Not only because of his struggles, but because of his whole personality, his way of thinking and reacting to others.

Lisa’s a whole other story. Right from the description of the character, and in the first pages, I thought I wouldn’t like her, at all. She is stubborn, kind of miss-know-it-all at times and really selfish. However, I found out behind her shell some likeable traits of her personality, like her underlying insecurities, which made me grow fond of her as I read. The third actor in this story was Clark, Lisa’s boyfriend, and he definitely brought the story to a whole other level. Not because the love story overshadowed everything, for once, but because he brought his friendship to Solomon as well, his support, and was a great addition to Lisa and Solomon’s duo in the story, even if we didn’t get to read it from his point of view.

FRIENDSHIP ABOVE EVERYTHING

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β€œ As smart as I am, it took a boy stuck in his house to teach me that sometimes it doesn’t matter where you are at all. It only matters whos with you.”

Unlike lots of contemporaries, where the love interest is erasing everything else, or even worse, where the love interest plot-line manages to take over the importance of talking about mental illness, loves cures everything and all….this didn’t happen here, and I was so, so thankful for it. There were obviously some love stories issues, with the three main characters of the story, but it remained secondary, giving depth and meaning to everyone’s relationship but not taking the place of what really mattered here: Solomon’s story. Friendship was above everything, and for once, it felt GOOD. But since apparently I can’t help myself, I will say something about love: Lisa and Clark’s relationship was one of the most realistic teenagers’ relationships I have read. I’m not going to spoil you guys anything, but it was definitely a nice change.
Friendship, love and a bit of good parenting, with parents being there, supportive, kind of lost at times yet wanting the very best for their child… I’ll say, yes, yes, and yes, thank you very VERY much.

OVERALL

If the abrupt ending left me thinking and wanting a bit more, Highly Illogical Behaviour is definitely a must-read for anyone wanting a good, fast-paced contemporary focusing on friendship and mental illness, with humor, a smile on your face, and most of it all, a story that feels real, just like the world, where there isn’t a cure for everything but there is always hope.

Final rating: Β 4 drops!

Did you read Highly Illogical Behaviour? Did you enjoy it? Do you want to read it?Β  Share your thoughts in comments!


 

John Corey Whaley, Highly Illogical Behaviour, Β Published by Faber and Faber, May 10th 2016.

Β goodreads-badge-add-plus-fad3b68d35050280ea55d50f17c654b5

Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.

Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?

Enter Lisa.

Determined to β€œfix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.

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Book blogger, travel blogger, writer. πŸ“š |🌍 | πŸ’ž Writing & Communications Graduate. French. Living on love, wanderlust and ya books.

52 thoughts on “Review: Highly Illogical Behaviour, John Corey Whaley

  1. This sounds great, Marie! Excellent review! I was reading the cover of this book in the store last night but it was damaged so I didn’t buy it. I completely agree with you. There’s not enough books about mental illness that don’t layer in the stereotypical romance that saves the day or the usual cliches we’ve seen a thousand times. A bad relationship could just as easily set someone off, so I don’t see how that’s always the answer in novels. I get so sick of seeing that as the fall back plan instead of the MC learning to develop the way a normal person would. I’ve had my share of panic attacks over the years. I could most definitely relate to this book. I’m adding it to my Goodreads now. πŸ™‚ And great picture.

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  2. Well color me interested! I have been dying to know more about this book and since it went out a few months ago, I wanted to get my hands on it but I am also being held back because I have been in this huge contemporary slump. But now that I know that a few of the elements are right up my alley, I’m just hoping that I could find this book in the nearest bookstore. Great review, Marie! πŸ™‚

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  3. After reading this review of yours, Marie, I’m tempted to give this one a go. I’ve not been a huge fan of books on mental illnesses because some books are so inaccurate and they tend to go off tangent. I’m glad that you found Highly Illogical Behaviour good!

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  4. It can really be hit or miss with mental illness stories and I’ve been hearing some pretty good things about this one. I really just like the title, it sounds like the memoir Spock would write about his career in Star Fleet after retirement.

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  5. This is a great review Marie! And I’m so glad you enjoyed this book as well. I loved Highly Illogical Behaviour when I read it, it’s definitely more of a character driven story than anything else but I really enjoyed how they all developed throughout.
    I was the same I didn’t think I’d like Lisa at first but the way she was written and her development throughout the story kind of made it impossible for me not to like her.
    I kind of liked the fact that the ending was left open, kind of lets you imagine what’s next for Solomon, Lisa and Clarke! πŸ™‚

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      1. Same here, although I suppose if a character is well written they can have some negative traits which won’t make them unlikeable, Lisa is a good example of this I think.
        Yeah, I kind of wanted a final ending but I guess it kind of fitted the theme of the whole book to leave it open! πŸ™‚

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  6. I agree with pretty much everything you said! I love the characters in this and also thought that the ending was a bit abrupt. And the PARENTS! Sol’s parents are simply the best and I’d love to be their friends. Or their kid. Haha.

    RE: Lisa and Clark’s relationship – I mentioned this in my review as a possible spoiler but I found it SUPER refreshing that he was the one not ready for sex, and instead of being gay, he’s just plain not ready. I think it’s harmful that men are portrayed as always being “ready to go” at all times and that if they’re not, there’s something wrong with them. It’s great that this book tries to subvert that.

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    1. Thank you so much Reg! πŸ™‚ I loved that aspect of the story as well. You’re right, and I feel like in every book and stories, mens are always supposed to just, “be ready”. Just like women, they maybe want to wait, and YES there is nothing wrong with that. it was such a good part of this story, I wish we’d get more of these ideas in other stories.

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      1. Yep! The ratio of books I read with “men that are ready to go 100%” to “men that are sometimes not ready and still portrayed as attractive” is maybe like… 500:1. I honestly can’t think of any other book apart from this that has this exact scenario, and I guess that just goes to show how much pressure there might be on men, physically, sexually, etc. Not to mention also financially (i.e. love interests are almost always rich, especially in romance novels). :/

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      2. You’re so right… It’s kind of bad, when you think about it, how many “clichΓ©s” men characters there are. We don’t think about it too often, (well, not as often as Mary-Sue characters, for instance), but we should. I’m definitely going to look at men’s characters differently now (and probably more critically… )

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  7. *RAISES HAND* I’ve read Highly Illogical Behaviour!! I loved it so much, and you pretty much took all the words out of my mouth with this review! (Which is wonderful, as always!) I thought the ending was abrupt too, which really disappointed me – oh well. It was a good book nonetheless! Great review, Marie!!

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  8. I’m so glad you liked this one – I feel like though its one of the most underrated books of this year, and it’s a shame that most people haven’t even heard of it! The characters were AMAZING, and I also thought I wouldn’t like Lisa much because of her selfish and somewhat egotistical attitude, but she had grown on me by the end of the novel. Clark was pretty cool, too, and Solomon’s thoughts and actions were hilarious and quite easy to relate to. I also loved how friendship and family came first in this novel, and how Solomon’s parents and grandmother are portrayed as supportive, caring people who are more like friends to him instead of the sort of teen angst that is common in YA. Solomon’s grandmother was a gem! Great review!

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  9. I saw another review for this and it sounds so so good. Mental illness books are always important, especially if the characters are portrayed well πŸ™‚ And this book just has friendship? That sound AMAZING. Who was your favourite character?

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  10. How did I miss this review! Silly me!!!
    Like you said, mental illness has taken a place in bloggers’ hearts and sometimes blogs, me mine, and it makes me so happy to see good books about it spread like this!
    I’m so relieved the illness was not dwarfed by the “love cures everything” idea and that the characters felt real enough for you to understand their struggles. Also, big point for reminding us of the power of friendship. I haven’t had time to read it yet, but I loved your review ❀

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  11. I’ve heard so much goodness coming out of this book, I can’t believe I haven’t picked it up already! This seems like a book that is definitely up my alley, I need to get my hands on this as soon as I can! I love so much the friendship aspect of it and how much it really builds on those characters! Wonderful review as always! ❀

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