**I received an advance copy in exchange for my honest review.**
Ah, magical realism.. how I am not a fan of you. I don’t know why I don’t jive with that genre but I often read it in the hopes that I find one that works for me. Unfortunately this was not one that worked for me.
This was a super, super quick read with some very, very heavy topics. That being said, I do not feel those heavy topics were addressed properly or handled well. Said topics included: alcoholism, eating disorder, bullying, sexual assault, underage drinking, and adultery. That’s a lot, right? The main character, Margaret (aka Magpie, aka Mags), was a sixteen year old girl who came home from school early to walk in on her dad having an affair with her aunt. When he left it was the tipping point for her mom to drink her life away. That lead to her being an alcoholic and Magpie (that’s what she is primarily referred to in the story) found her one day passed out on the floor from drinking too much. On top of all of this, Magpie developed an eating disorder, but it was never said why she did so but it was always mentioned. Her way of escape was often floating in her backyard pool and writing in her yellow notebook. In this notebook she created the perfect town – Near. Suddenly one day Magpie found the doorway to Near and she discovered everything she written down was right in front of her. Finally, she had a way to get revenge on everyone that wronged her.
You can see how I was slightly confused because there was just so much going on. It was hinted at throughout most of the book that something really bad happened to Magpie at a party but it wasn’t revealed until about 80% into the book. I cannot stress enough that I feel throwing in a sexual assault at a party should not have been done for the shock factor but I feel that it was. None of these serious topics were addressed properly at all. This teenage girl had an eating disorder and chose to drink until she passed out but it was never talked about as being a bad thing. Same goes for the sexual assault. I felt the author had the right platform to address these serious topics but failed to do so. That did not sit well with me at all.
All of the time Magpie spent in her made-up world of Near was uber confusing. She created this picture perfect world for herself and chose to use it as a way to get revenge on those that wronged her? She lured these people into Near and had them eaten by made up characters? What, and I cannot stress this enough, the heck? That makes zero sense.
I did not like Magpie’s character as I felt she had no character arc and no development. The way she was when the story started was the exact same way she was when the story ended. Nothing changed within her at all, other than she felt she was invincible. I did not like her personality or the way she chose to handle the bad things in her life. Yes, she was dealt a very bad hand but she could have reacted/handled things in a very different way. I kept waiting for something to change or get better for both the character and story but it never happened.
I tried so hard to like this story but it just did not happen for me. The premise sounded amazing and the cover is stunning, but the story between the pages did not work for me. There were too many things skirted over and/or thrown in for shock factor and I do not agree with that. I was just not the right reader for this type of book.