Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Made you Up by Francesca Zappia.

Publish date- 2015.
Publisher- Greenwillow Books.


Review time...

(A Brief) Synopsis:
As Alex makes her way through another awful year of school, she has to combat more than distinguishing reality from the hallucinations that make her see snakes hanging from the roof of her classrooms. She has to navigate friendships, and trust, and fear. Also terrible teachers.




What I thought:
It could be said that I am a fantasy dweller, and when I come out of my genre-built home it is infrequently and usually with lingering disappointment because what a mistake. Contemporary remains the trickiest genre for me to navigate, and also the one that produces the most dnfs-  but sometimes, maybe two or three times a year, I will slip into the pages of a marvellous, captivating gem. And it's contemporary.

Made you up had all the potential, signs and hopefulness attached that made it seem like I was about to read my next stellar contemporary; the reviews were applauding it, and I read many reviews. Also, lobsters apparently featured. And people seemed to really like the lobsters.
When I started reading, I wasn't so sure. The initial childhood memory (feat. lobsters) was cute, but then I had to get to know Alex as a teenager and she was very different.

Luckily, I liked her a lot.
Alex is snarky, doesn't like people, and is fragile- a fact she buries beneath snark and her dislike for people. She has schizophrenia and the up front portrayl of this, showing that it was hard every moment, every hour, making us see and hear Alex navigate the hallucinations her mind throws at her, was so well done. It gave me a perspective and insight to scizophrenia that I was sorely lacking. Of course, every novel will be as different as every experience, but Made you up was genuinely well done. Well thought out, well portrayed, and it felt so very honest.

As for the characters besides Alex, they're a bit of a mixed bag; Alex's dad and sister I liked a lot, but her mother was almost on the uncaring side of pushy and her behaviour was incredibly frustrating; there was a school bully who was the "unnecessarily mean" character, and although she was ultimately important to the plot I didn't really understand how she and Alex hated each other so instantly, and why, particularly, they did; there was the longtime friend, who we drift away from and I never liked much, and the new friends, only Miles of whom we really got to know. I was hesitant to like him, what with Alex's immediate dislike and mistrust, and there's always that lingering doubt: as he becomes more important, Alex questions (and forces the reader to question) whether he's real or simply too good (and unpredictable) to be true.

Going in, I was a little concerned because I had read that Alex is an unreliable narrator because of her schizophrenia and hallucinations, and I always struggle with unreliable narrators. But it turned out that I never actually felt like she was unreliable; for the most part, distinguishing what was real and what was hallucination was relatively simple for Alex.
The plot, while unexpected and enthralling, was also a little bizarre. A part of me wondered whether the whole thing was a hallucination, as things stretched into the realm of almost far fetched, which certainly makes things difficult for Alex and the reader; overall I'm not sure how I feel about that aspect of the novel, but the rest of it I throughly enjoyed.

Rating: Excellent.
A stunning novel. I was emotional and amused and I liked Alex a lot; her growth and struggles were so clearly written and the whole story had such an element of raw truthfulness to it. I do think a. people judged Alex's hair far too much, and b. not enough lobsters, though.

14 comments:

  1. YAY! I am super glad that you loved this one, lovely :D It was definitely one of the most memorable books I read last year(I think it was last year).

    I felt like the portrayal of schizophrenia in this book was very respectful, but it is always hard to say whether it was well done without having personal experience. I think it is one of those times where I would love to read a review from someone who is closer to the subject, and knows more about it, so that I could gather more information on the representation in this book.

    I want to know more on what you think of Miles, though. DID YOU LIKE HIM? I thought was darlingly obnoxious, and I always wanted him to appear in the book.

    One of the best things I loved about Made You Up is the fact that the relationship between Alex and Miles didn't fix her. I was just so, so happy that that trope did not come into play here.

    Lovely review <3

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    1. I read it so long ago, too. Like, in December *snorts* I am so on top of this reviewing thing #champ.

      Oh, definitely. I felt like Zappia wrote about it in a way that was realistic and caring, but without having the experience myself or knowing anyone who has schizophrenia I can't say definitively (and even then I couldn't) whether it's an accurate portrayl. It just felt, to me, to be done really well.

      I did like him, but I do have a soft spot (which we have never yet discussed) for those irritating yet romantic characters. I feel like I should destest, but instead I swoon. I loved his appearances, though. And may have started that ship early on.

      Oh, yes! It was definitely something she could hold onto, and it did help, but it didn't resolve anything. Having the support of a friend and then *ahm* more-than-friend was something that was so important to her, but it wasn't the say all end all fix. Which is 100% realistic.
      xx

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  2. So glad you loved this one, Romi. I felt the same way about Alex and felt for her as well. It was tough trying to decipher what's real and what's a product of a mental disease. I like the way the author portrayed her character and her cantor about schizophrenia.

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    1. Me, too! I wasn't sure whether I would, so the fact I did was a lovely surprise. Alex was such a compelling character and I liked her so much, her attitude and thoughts and just who she was. I was definitely drawn into her story because of how much I liked her as a character.

      Like I said, I didn't really struggle with working out what was real and what wasn't, which surpirsed me because I'd heard so much about her being an unreliable narrator, but I really felt like Alex, even when it was her schizophrenia and what she saw was out of her control, could distinguish what was real and what wasn't without too much trouble, and I never doubted her.
      xx

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  3. I'm glad you enjoyed this one as much as I did :) Like you, it's always a little bit intimidating when we fantasy freaks venture out into contemporary so it takes more to impress us.

    Alex was such a refreshing character, I loved seeing her grow and change throughout the book, especially because she was in such a bad place to begin with.

    For some reason my mind NEVER made the connection that she was an unreliable narrator so I almost never doubted anything that happened, which made the twists all the more surprising xD

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    1. Yes! I remember reading your review and hoping that my experience was just as great, and I'm so glad it was! Definitely. I almost always have disasters with contemporary, but every now and then I find a book like this and even though the setting isn't always the best (because fantasy worlds everywhere please, I sometimes think) the characters ARE.

      Alex was wonderful, and definitely someone who I loved following. She was so full of attitude and just seemed like she was almost completely herself, which I loved so much.

      Ah, really? I think I did only because I'd read that she was an unreliable narrator *everywhere*, but otherwise I mightn't have even thought to question what she said. xx

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  4. I really liked how this one blurred the line between imagination and reality. It really made me question whether Alex was hallucinating everything or whether things were real, which I loved because imagine if you could never trust your mind.

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    1. It's interesting, because I read that a lot of people felt similarly on that, but it wasn't something- the unreliable narrator- that really happened for me. I never really doubted Alex, unless she was doubting herself. But I enjkoyed this so much, and it gave an insight into schizophrenia that was really new for me, and felt, without me having any knowledge outside of reading, really well done.
      xx

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  5. Just like you Romi, I am a huge fantasy reader and very rarely come out of my fantasy hole to pick up a contemporary. BUT, occasionally there are contemporaries that just stun me and make me rethink my reading choices. Made You Up sounds like a wonderful book, and I love the fact that reality and hallucinations tend to blend. That just keeps you guessing and adds an element of the unknown to it. Alex sounds like a really interesting character to read about as well. Glad you enjoyed this one lovely! xx

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    1. *laughs* I love how, in a way, this post brought out a whole lot of fantasy lovers. There are definitely more people who rarely read contemporary who I know as bloggers than I'd anticipated!

      This was such a gorgeous read, although I definitely wasn't sure, to begin, whether it would get me or not. But Alex is such an incredible character and she brought such a passion to the story. I loved her and I cared about her, which made her story even more important for me to read. She's definitely one of my favourites, and I think you'd like her a lot, too, Joy! I hope you remember this one, and choose to read it at some point! xx

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  6. I have the opposite reaction when I hear unreliable narrator - I get excited XD. I'm glad this was a good read for you. I definitely only traverse the unknown territory of contemporary every now and again. This is such a great review. I agree that the charm of a contemporary book is when it feels honest. I also like the cover of this one (which is rare because contemporary covers can be really simple sometimes for my taste.) If I ever feel like another unreliable narrator, will look it up =)

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    1. *laughs* Well that's good! It's neat to find out how people feel about these elements in books. I'm not sure why, especially, I have a walk-away reaction to it, possibly there was a book with an unreliable narrator that I read early on and it just... I think I felt like it had betrayed me. *snorts* I never forgave that, apparently.

      Oh, thank you so much! I enjoyed this one so much, and I always find it nice to write a review for a non-review book! This one I got out from the library... over the summer, I think, so the review took its time coming!

      That's such a nice point, that they need to feel honest. I think those are the books that make me really feel things, because they're so real? True, I guess. And yes! I liked this cover a lot, and how unique and stand out it is.

      I hope you do! It was definitely worth reading! xx

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  7. I always have bad luck with contemporary novels, which is why I tend to gravitate towards fantasy and historical fiction novels. For some reason I just have a very hard time connecting to them, but like you, I could connect to Made You Up. I loved the way the author handled the mental illness aspect, which I think was spot-on, and Alex was just such an intriguing narrator. I think the fact that you never knew what was real and what wasn't gave the novel depth. Great review, I'm glad I found your blog. :)

    Summer @ MissFictional's Books

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    1. I definitely tend towards having bad luck with contemporary, too, but I read Fantasy because it's... basically everything I need. I love it so much. *sighs* Oh, that's nice to hear! It was such an enjoyable read, and I'm so glad I went out of my way to give it a go (which I mightn't have, if not for some excellent reviews).

      I discussed with Chiara, in comments above, about how it felt like such a good portrayl of schizophrenia, but it's not something I can say for certain is accurate from my own experiences. I feel like Zappia didn't shy away from any of it, though, and Alex's experiences were very up front and emotionally charged, which was so important and well done.

      Thank you, Summer! It's nice to meet you! xx

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