I was originally drawn to this book 1) for the cover and 2) for the synopsis. The story of an albino male student going to a prestigious school befriends one of the hottest girls in school. But something happens… a tragedy… and nobody would see it coming.
Most of the story is told from Tim’s POV, the albino. He had left his story burned onto CDs for Duncan to listen to. Duncan is a new senior to the Irving School and Tim was a year ahead of him. Duncan has a few chapters sprinkled throughout the book. He talks about his relationship struggles with Daisy and basic school issues, but the primary focus is on Tim’s story and how his life was changed forever after meeting Vanessa, one of the “it” girls at Irving. Vanessa was eccentric, confident, and knew who she was. However, she was in a bad relationship with Patrick. The entire time I kept wondering what this “event” was that Tim and Duncan kept referencing. I kept thinking it would be something earth shattering and mind blowing but to me it wasn’t. It was an unfortunate event, but not nearly what I expected based on the build up throughout the entire story.
The more I read of this story, the more I kept wondering why I was still listening. It started to fizzle out and make me become disconnected from the characters. Speaking of characters… I had major issues with Tim’s character. I guess I understood why he had instalove (GAH!) with Vanessa but not 100%. Their relationship did not feel organic or natural. It felt like all of the feelings were coming from Tim and he reacted the way he did because he chose to live such a sheltered life. As I mentioned, he was born albino and he let that define who he was as a person. He was always too afraid to talk to anyone so he stayed away from people (I am guessing as there was really not much background given for any character). It seemed Vanessa was the first female to give Tim the time of day so he jumped to instalove with her. He was borderline obsessed with her, actually. He could do nothing but eat, sleep, and breath her even though she did not return the feelings. I did not read that as being sweet or sincere because any male being that obsessed with a female (or anyone, for that matter) is always creepy. Since I felt his overall character was underdeveloped and lacked depth, I never connected with him. I also did not like how he constantly neglected to take care of his health. He chose time and time again to not wear his prescribed glasses outdoors because he wanted to look cool for Vanessa, even though he knew it would lead to a disastrous outcome. He repeatedly ignore strong signs that there was something wrong medically so I could not really feel sorry for him. It made me so furious because he knew what he needed to do but chose not to for fear it would not make him popular.
Vanessa’s character was not much more developed than Tim’s. She came across as the free spirit that did whatever made her happy but that was not true. She was in a toxic relationship with a guy named Patrick. She knew it was bad and she chose to do nothing about it. What did she do when things got too much for her to handle? She ran to Tim because she knew he would drop everything for her. To me, the girl was using Tim. She had a connection that she chose to overlook because Patrick was “such a nice guy when he wanted to be”. Sweetie, that’s called abuse. That’s a terrible relationship and you know it yet you don’t want to do anything about it. Pulling Tim into that nastiness was a jerk move. But it went on like that throughout the entire story. Patrick was the stereotypical bully that treated women like crap and used violence to get what he wanted. These two characters together were just awful. She let him get away with stuff and he knew it. Did either of them really care about Tim? Probably not.
Besides the characters, the pacing felt off and the plot weak. Since Tim narrated most of the story, it was super slow moving. The boy felt it necessary to describe – in great detail – things that had no overall impact on the story. Do I care that the girl’s dorm at the school had doors painted different colors? (No, it never played a part in the story.) Do I care that every single food item served to the students was from local farmers that were self-sustaining? Not really. Do I care that the burgers were from grass-fed cows? Not one bit. There were so many items that were explained in great detail that were unnecessary. It drug the book out and made it twice as long as it needed to be. The “big tragedy” that was talked about constantly by Tim was not as tragic as he made it out to be. Weaksauce, actually. How Duncan became so engrossed in this flashback retelling is beyond me.
What is a tragedy is that I feel for the cover and blurb of this story. It was a quick read but oh man was it painful. I would not recommend to anyone for the reasons listed above: underdeveloped characters, terrible pacing, and weak plot. Do yourself a favor and read another story.