Saturday, September 13, 2014

{ARC Review} Anatomy of a Misfit: Andrea Portes

Rating: 5/10
Series: None
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic,
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: September 2, 2014
Page Count: 330
Format: ARC
Source: HarperTeen via Once Upon a Time Bookstore

Barnes & Nobles ~ Goodreads ~ Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: This emotional, hilarious, devastating, and ultimately triumphant YA debut, based on actual events, recounts one girl’s rejection of her high school’s hierarchy—and her discovery of her true self in the face of tragedy.

Fall’s buzzed-about, in-house favorite.

Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair—the third most popular girl in school. Inside, she’s a freak: a mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA (after all, her father is Romanian). But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauer, first most popular girl in school, will make her life hell. So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can’t get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd. So what if that nerd is now a black-leather-jacket-wearing dreamboat, and his loner status is clearly the result of his troubled home life? Who cares if the right girl could help him with all that, maybe even save him from it? Who needs him when Jared Kline, the bad boy every girl dreams of, is asking her on dates? Who?

Anatomy of a Misfit is Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Anika’s hilariously deadpan delivery will appeal to readers for its honesty and depth. The so-sad-it’s-funny high school setting will pull readers in, but when the story’s dark foreboding gradually takes over, the devastating penultimate tragedy hits like a punch to the gut. Readers will ride the highs and lows alongside funny, flawed Anika — from laughter to tears, and everything in between.

Disclaimer: I received this book from HarperTeen via Once Upon a Time Bookstore in Montrose, California in exchange for an honest review.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?
Fans of The Truth About Alice (Jennifer Matthieu), 
Fans of the Protagonists from Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver), Falling Into Place (Amy Zhang), Tease Amanda Maciel, Catalyst (Laurie Halse Anderson), Winger (Andrew Smith).

Would I Buy It?
The only way I would buy Anatomy of a Misfit is if it was on a BIG TIME sale, and I felt that the hardcover version was a must-have addition to my bookshelf (aka. an insanely cool texture with the green being matte and the text, floor, and chairs being shiny). 

Background & Backstory
When Maureen (the owner of Once Upon a Time) so generously allowed me to pick out some ARCs I wanted to read, I IMMEDIATELY gravitated towards Anatomy of a Misfit because of all the release-week buzz going on during Tea Time from Epic Reads (HarperTeen's promotional website). There had been so much praise being handed out about the unique, fresh voice in YA literature, quirky protagonist, and insane plot. 

So by the time I saw it on the OUAT's ARC shelf, my mind had pitched the book to itself as, "Andrew Smith meets Before I Fall," which, of course, sounds amazing.

What Was My Reaction After I Finished This Book?
No! It CAN'T end like that. I won't let it! *crosses arms and pouts*

Neutral Element ~ I normally don't like to put restraints on books, whatever they may be. Yet in the case of Anatomy of a Misfit, I feel that it is fair to warn you about how time-sensitive it is. In my honest opinion, you HAVE to be in the mood for a high-school story featuring a popular girl. This is in the same way you feel the urge to pick up a Stephanie Perkins book after a dark, serious, pulse-pounding psychological thriller. Or how you pick up a fantasy book so you can escape our world when going through a rough patch. I was not in the mood AofM, which greatly impacted my reading enjoyment and rating.

Con ~ The Main Character/Perspective 3/10: I had a serious case of, "Should this story be told in the POV of this character?" while reading Anatomy of a Misfit. My best example of this is how Veronica Roth had had a block while writing Divergent because she started off writing from Four's point of view before she settled into Tris. I believe that this story could have been told by multiple characters -similar to Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang- or by an unreliable narrator, such as Cady from We Were Liars. The reason I had these feelings were because Annika seemed too much like a fill-in-the-blank popular girl in YA fiction with the majority of the story told in high school. You may be thinking, "What the heck Sofia! Name three books with that 'type' of character." To answer you, I will reply, "Just look at how many books I have referred to you." 

Annika is deep. 
Annika's life is far from perfect. 
Annika is a troubled soul. 

This is where I will bring up the fact that I didn't understand what people were referring to when they said, "hilariously deadpan delivery will appeal to readers for its honesty and depth." My connection with Annika was so weak, that it was kind of pathetic. I never got a feel for who she was and what she stood for. There was so much tell-and-don't-show going on, as well as a lot of unbelievable aspects of her character. The 3rd most popular girl has never been kissed or gone out on a date. How the heck, in Young Adult Fiction, does that work?

Pro ~ Logan 9/10: Ahhh Logan. The tall, dark, smoking hot nerd, and loner. I never could figure him out, but for once, that aspect of mystery didn't annoy me as a reader. I embraced how little was known about him and the mask that he constantly wore for protection.  He seemed so much like Kurt from The Truth About Alice, and he understood and accepted Annika for who she was. To be honest, she treated him like crap, and that made me root for him all the more. To tell you his fate would be to tell spoil the ending, but I will say that you will love him all the more because of it.  

***This next category could be considered spoilers, but aren't because of what is hinted at in the synopsis is merely confirmed. If you don't want know, continue reading after this category is over***

Con ~ A MC Who Doesn't Have Their Act Together 4/10: I'm sorry I'm making a big fuss over Annika again, but I had to mention this in a separate Con by itself. There is a.... love triangle in this novel, AND there is cheating involved. I have a love-hate relationship with love triangles, and in this particular book's case, it was a hate relationship. I personally felt it was a plot device used by the author to create more conflict.

To be frank, this really peeves me off because of the difference between putting an element into your story because it's needed for flow and consistency versus putting it in because you want certain characters to have friction and clash. 

Cheating is also a subject that a lot of people (myself included) are morally against, especially when a character can't accept the amazing person they have opposed to someone they start getting involved in purely for personal gain and/or status. 

Stealing. Why the frick did Annika have to start steeling from where she worked? As always, the main character justified their actions in order to make them appear not totally unreasonable (yes, I know that's a double negative). Yet why?!? This again comes around to the subject of personal preference, but Annika WAS NOT a martyr who was a symbol of purity for the common good. She lied, cheated, and stole for no reason but her own selfish beliefs.    

Pro ~ Ending/Unpredictability 8/10: I have to hand it to Portes. NOTHING about Anatomy of a Misfit was predictable. Even though AoaM was far from a suspense novel, I had no idea what was going to happen next. There were several random events that came out of the blue, adding more depth to the story. And while I do not want to spoil it for you, I just gotta tell you (I'm sacrificing my grammar, I have to tell you so much) that the ending is heartwrenching. My favorite character has something tragic happen to them and the level of feels were a bit ridiculous at 11:30 at night.

How Likely Is It That I Will Re-Read This Book?
I normally would not even consider a book I didn't think very highly of, but as I have continued to blog and write reviews, my mind has learned to compartmentalize the pros and cons in a novel. With that said, I think re-reading Anatomy of a Misfit, having known what will happen, will give me a whole new perspective as well as appreciation for it.

How Likely Is It That I Will Read Another Book Written By This Author?
While I am not dying to get my hands on another Andrea Portes book, I am sincerely interested with what she chooses to write about next and maybe hearing from a different sort of character. Anatomy of a Misfit had the potential in the Sofia rankings to be a strong debut, just in a "wrong time-wrong place" scenario for my bookish mood.

Conclusion: Unique Voice. Dry Humor. Smoking Hot Guys. Cliff-Hangers. If you like all of those,  as well as a certain type of narrator, this is the book for you.

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