What caught my eye in this story at first, was the plot. It seemed to hold everything I love in a good contemporary: some kind of messed up teenage love, trying to move on from the past, new environments, new friends, past and present colliding… I’m a sucker for these kind of things, really, and if you ask me, this kind of story calls for great character development, and can end up being such a hit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as great as it seemed to be, for two things. First of all, the plot was close to non-existent: if you’re looking for a plot-driven story, this is not it, and I found this out after a couple of chapters, where the action was for sure moving, but it wasn’t this kind of heart-stopping action where the plot take the characters somewhere. It was more of a character-driven story, then, I thought. A story that, from the synopsis, you can already kind of guess. A story about moving on, about confronting the past. Fine, I thought. Now, this can be my kind of story.
AN UNORIGINAL PLOT
Told in the first person, from the point of view of Zel, Here’s The Thing really took me by surprise right from the first page. The main character has such a particular teenage voice, if you ask me, it takes some getting used to, and you either enjoy it, or hate it. Zel is telling the story – sometimes a bit more than showing, maybe, which could be a bit disappointing – and she doesn’t handle things with kids’ gloves, at all. She’s telling you all she feels, how she thinks she can seem like a bitch, at times, how she judges some girl in the first few pages… Really, it’s both scary, and refreshing. Scary, because I thought I couldn’t love her, at all. But refreshing, because after a few pages, I started to enjoy this particular voice, that just told things as she felt them. Zel isn’t your usual teenager’s voice, which made the story different. Moreover, if she appears as a, well…as she says it herself, a bitch in the first few pages, she comes to evolve and we can see her grow from the first pages until the end. In that, I think we can say there was some interesting character development, compensating from the lack of plot.
A COMPLICATED MAIN CHARACTER
As you can guess, what made the story here, were the relationships between the characters. Where Zel tries to deal with her past, and her first love, Prim, we get to know this girl through Zel’s eyes, which is really interesting, and where we can see feelings develop the most. With flashbacks, we’re told the story of Prim and Zel’s first meeting, their subway adventures, and Zel’s feelings slowly growing and changing for her best friend. Maybe it’s because we’re only seeing Prim through Zel’s eyes, but I had a hard time loving the character. She’s seen as this “perfect” girl, which can be understandable (we all tend to put first loves and people we love on a pedestal, up until the time they hurt us, especially when we are teenagers, I guess), but because of this, I had a hard time picturing Prim. She was this “perfect” girl in Zel’s mind, yet with her actions, she didn’t seem like a likeable character. Fortunately, by the end of the book, the author brought some more depth to Prim’s character, revealing some interesting things about her, which made me understand the whole story completely differently. For that, I was happy.
UNEQUAL SECONDARY CHARACTERS, BUT GREAT DIVERSITY.
Here’s The Thing introduces us to a great crew of secondary characters, as well, unfortunately a bit unequal in their development. I absolutely fell in love with Stella’s character. She was this mysterious girl, and as we get to know her, her life, her thoughts and her struggles better, she came alive on page more than any other character in this story. Unfortunately, all characters weren’t given the same thoughts, I wish I’d got to know some of them more, especially Ashani, an interesting “know-it-all” character, but she wasn’t much more than that to the story.
I’d like to take a moment to appreciate the diversity of this story, and how the author dealt with it. Zel likes girls, but it’s not taken as a big deal. It’s completely part of the story, and there’s not a coming-out moment, or some kind of big struggles just because of this. There are still struggles about some characters sexuality in this book, but it didn’t feel forced, it didn’t feel like it was there just for the sake of it. It felt natural, and I loved it. If you ask me, that’s how all books should feel.
Here’s The Thing is a book that takes a bit of time to get into, if you ask me, but it’s worth to keep on going. Despite the slow plot, the character development and the flashbacks keep the story really interesting. If you’re into contemporary and are looking for a quick, sweet story that’ll end up leaving you with a smile on your face, then this is it.
Final rating: 3 drops!
Biggest thanks to NETGALLEY for providing me with a free digital copy of this book. This did not, in any way, influenced my opinion on this book.
Do you want to read Here’s The Thing? Why, or why not? Share your thoughts in comments!
Emily O’Beirne, Here’s The Thing, Published by Ylva Publishing, October 19st 2016.
It’s only for a year. That’s what sixteen-year-old Zel keeps telling herself after moving to Sydney for her dad’s work. She’ll just wait it out until she gets back to New York and Prim, her epic crush/best friend, and the unfinished subway project. Even if Prim hasn’t spoken to her since that day on Coney Island.
But Zel soon finds life in Sydney won’t let her hide. There’s her art teacher, who keeps forcing her to dig deeper. There’s the band of sweet, strange misfits her cousin has forced her to join for a Drama project. And then there’s the curiosity that is the always-late Stella.
As she waits for Prim to explain her radio silence and she begins to forge new friendships, Zel feels strung between two worlds. Finally, she must figure out how to move on while leaving no one behind.