I received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. The scheduled publication date for this book is June 7, 2016.
The life of homeschooler Stevie Hart gets all shook up when she meets a strange boy, Max, who survived a freak near-fatal accident and is now obsessed with death. He enlists her and her best friend, Sanger, to help him complete his absurd “23 Ways to Fake My Death Without Dying” checklist. What starts off as fun begins spiraling downward when Stevie’s diabetes sabotages her fumbling romance with Max, Sanger announces she’s moving out of state, and then death—real death—cuts close to home.
This book was a little different from what I was expecting, but still good. Stevie is a homeschooled student who doesn't like to be judged for not going to public school and Sanger is her amazing best friend who has two moms and is also a homeschool student. Max is their new neighbor and he is so weird and funny. Due to a near fatal accident that cost him three fingers, he is scared of death and is now trying to get over his fear by faking his own death in weird and often hilarious ways. Stevie is hesitant to help Max with his weird list, but Sanger is all for it. Eventually, Stevie decides to help.
Not many books actually made me laugh out loud but this one did. I loved the friendship between Sanger and Stevie and Max. Of course, Max and Stevie start dating. They had nice chemistry and I loved how they became friends first. One of the best things about this book was that the friendship between Stevie and Sanger remained just as strong, even with the addition of a romance between Stevie and Max. Stevie didn't forget about her friend because of a guy and they all hung out together just the same.
The premise made it sound like the ending would be a bit more tragic than it was, but it was really just predictable. When a book has a main character who is terrified of death, I become very, very afraid for all of the characters in the book. I felt like I spent more time than I should have waiting for a tragedy that never happened. Maybe that's part of the reason I didn't love this book. I wasn't exactly rooting for death, but I hated that the premise over dramatized things.
In some ways, Stevie was a great character. I loved her immediately because of her love of Gilmore Girls. She loved to read, she was funny and quick-witted and she was super loyal to her friends. However, one of the things that I really hated about this book was that Stevie was so incredibly judgmental. And since she hated to be judged herself, she was a bit of a hypocrite. She went into this whole big spiel at the beginning of the book about there being four types of homeschool students. She generously places herself into the "normal types" category. Meanwhile, the ones who are super religious get classified as "Blue Jean Jumpers." I am not religious at all, but I hate it when anyone is stereotyped or made fun of and that's exactly what Stevie did. I despised the way she talked about the religious ones. At one point, she asked one of them if they even had Internet. Come on, really?? Don't even get me started on this huge judgmental tirade where she went postal on this poor girl who hadn't done anything. And yeah, there was some homophobia towards Sanger's moms from the leaders of the homeschool co-op they were a part of, but Jess had nothing to do with that. Regardless of whether Jess felt gay people shouldn't have kids or not, she didn't deserve to be yelled at for it. I don't agree with that belief at all, but are you ever going to change any one's mind by screaming at them or judging them? I guess there was some character development and growth regarding that, but it felt like that happened way too fast and conveniently for me. I probably would have given this book a higher rating, but that part really bugged me.
Buy/Borrow/Skip: Borrow this one.