Monday, August 17, 2015

Double ARC Review: Another Day - David Levithan

Another Day
David Levithan
Series: Every Day, #2
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Release Date: August 25th, 2015
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars
Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I expect everyone is getting tired of me beginning half my reviews mentioning how much I love the author but if you're looking for unadulterated hatred, you have to go to Amrutha's reviews for that and if you want to skip my ramblings of love proceed to the next paragraph. Anyway, David Levithan has been a favorite of mine for quite some time now. From my first experience with his books (Boy Meets Boy) to falling in love with his command of language in The Lovers Dictionary (and subsequently stalking and going on retweeting binges on his Twitter, which he's dedicated to posting the unabridged version of said book), from reading Every Day (review here) and being enamored by the feelings it left in me to meeting him at BEA at reading Another Day before any other BEA book (resulting in a Save the Date post), it's been a wild ride.

My feelings about this book are honestly a little mixed. Going into it, I wasn't sure exactly what to expect because the entirety of Every Day chronicles A's and Rhiannon's journey, so I didn't know how Rhiannon's side of it would be different and nuanced and not just be a rehashing of the same story. I trust David Levithan as an author because his other works are so well-done in my opinion that I wasn't worried about it being the last one but I still didn't know where to put my expectations.

I really liked the fact that the voices for the two books are clear and distinct. You know how sometimes you see a quote and you just know it's from a certain author? While I'm sure David Levithan has his own authoristic flair (I know authoristic isn't a word shush) he still wrote Another Day with a separate narrative style than that of its companion. It added to the sentiment that this was truly a companion novel because it didn't feel like a continuation of the same story, in the same voice. This was something different. And, of course, the actual voice and writing was spot on. David Levithan's writing is remarkable and I admire his ability to slip powerful lines into dialogue-heavy writing.

An aspect I had mixed feelings about, however, was Rhiannon herself. I liked her as a narrator, but I'm not sure I liked her all that much as a character. I'll start with the positives. As a narrator, Rhiannon gave another dimension to the story. If you don't know the gist of it, Rhiannon meets A, a being who wakes up in a different body in every day, no restrictions on gender, but the age and general location stay the same. I elaborate a little more on this background in my Every Day review which I linked above in the first paragraph so if you want a slightly longer explanation it's there. Anyway, from Rhiannon's perspective, we can see the way she struggles accepting this facet of A's being and with her accepting A's different bodies, which shows us her internal struggle to reconcile her emotional attraction to A but her lack of physical attraction to some of the bodies A is inhabiting.

For example, we see her shy away from holding hands when A is one female (a "pudgy Indian girl") and we also see another scene where A is in the body of a suicidal teenage girl and kisses Rhiannon and she thinks "If it's A, the person who kissed me at the beach, it's one thing. But if it's this girl, that's another." She does let this one happen for a minute (I don't know if that's a long time to lock lips considering I'm not experienced in that area but it seems like a decent amount of time, long enough that it wasn't an immediate recoil) before telling him it's definitely weird and it should be obvious why, citing three reasons, one being that A is a girl. In one scene we see her speaking to a friend about attraction, asking if we love people enough, do our "types" matter? He replies with the opinion that "we're all wired to like certain things and to hate certain things," explaining that he prefers boys with swoopy hair, and he could love a boy without swoopy hair and yes, he could love a boy with a mullet but it would be harder, and now talking about if he could love a girl with a mullet, he says only as a friend, that he wouldn't want to have a relationship with her.

Objectively speaking, lips are lips and hands are hands, right? But Rhiannon is seeing how love is not objective and who they're attached to physically is just as important as the person inside. So I really liked going into that aspect of her character, and seeing that part of the perspective. However, I'm just not sure if I'm remembering Every Day differently or if reading it in her voice changes things, but I found her to be more annoying in this book. I actually liked A less in this book as well and I wasn't sure if it was the lens I was viewing them through, but I feel like that might be it. Something just felt off about the pair, not as a couple, just as characters.

The other characters were a bonus, though, because in Every Day, we didn't get to really see anyone in Rhiannon's life, we just got a story about A and Rhiannon. Now, we meet her friends, who were excellently written and down to earth, and we get to see a lot more of Justin, Rhiannon's boyfriend in the beginning of the book, whose body A wakes up in in the beginning and kickstarts everything. In Every Day, we see a brief glimpse of him and think "oh what a jerk glad he's gone" but now we see more, why she stuck around, a much more dynamic picture.

Overall, I definitely don't think David Levithan retold the same story, even though the same general story remained the same. I didn't realize how much time they actually spent apart and it made for an interesting look into the side of the person's whose days aren't spent floating from body to body. The end of the book was definitely ambiguous and set the book up well for a sequel, and if I recall correctly, Every Day had sequel-worthy points as well, so I think it'd be interesting to see a new chapter in the story.

I apologize for the long review for anyone reading, I didn't realize as I was typing that I had gotten wordy, but in general I enjoyed it though I do think some parts of it needed to pick up the pace just because they were Rhiannon-heavy and she wasn't as strong as the supporting characters.

- Noor

Marlon's Another Day Review
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Literally I screamed when I heard about this book. This happens a lot, because Levithan writes a lot of books (and edits tons more). I want to thank him and his team for an ARC copy of this book, and for being kind, yet efficient, while handing them out at BEA; the line for this book was long, so pictures and small talk were not an option. Luckily I happened to see him right after the signing and get the picture. You can find it on my twitter. I also have a shrine of it inside my heart, with the rest of his books (collabs included, of course).

Anyway, with that out of the way, I really like this book. On the first page, there's a letter addressing three types of people: those who have never read Every Day, those who have read it a while back, and those who have read it right before Another Day. I read Every Day either last fall or the fall before, I'm not entirely sure . . . and I only remember my emotions, random quotes, and the general plot.

My main worry was that Another Day wouldn't be able to deliver on its promise of being a stand-alone. Not because I didn't trust Levithan's writing, I just wasn't entirely sure what was missing from Every Day, as Rhiannon's character seemed very open and developed.

Another Day delivers. It builds narrative tension and character development the way a stand-alone does: from the ground up, and it never relies on past material to prompt the reader. It's hard to even consider some of the lines as throwbacks since they take place at the same time. Something that really drove this distinction from Every Day was Rhiannon's narration. Her tone and style diverge from what we see A deliver in Every Day.

It is just as beautiful as Every Day and all of David Levithan's work. That clipped narration is always cut with gorgeous wordplay and devastatingly emotional thoughts. Rhiannon's narration, though, stems from a different place. I see traces of the narration from one of the Wills from Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and the harsher sides of The Lover's Dictionary.

A, perhaps from their* transient nature, is not aggressive and has generally neutral thoughts open to outside stimuli (like their love for Rhiannon). Rhiannon, on the other hand, is edgier, more erratic. It makes sense, given the situation she's in. Like the reader just opening Every Day, she has to come to terms with what A is after having a complicated, painful relationship with Justin.

*(Most reviews will use he, or rarely she. Rhiannon goes back and forth depending on A's current sex. A doesn't have a sex and his gender is questionable, but definitely more masculine. I just use they because otherwise I'd be really confused.)

What I really liked about Rhiannon's side is that it can be a lot darker and spiteful than A's, and thus it has more room to deal with the emotions that come from this adventure, from learning more about herself and what it's like to love a person who is the same yet not the same, and especially from thinking about that lowlife Justin.

Other than that, the plot is pretty much the same. Sort of in a bad way, sort of in a good way. Both characters are usually trying to find each other, now we just see more of that from Rhiannon, though now we get to actually see what Rhiannon's life is like without A, and that space really helps her and us with clarity. We get to see the little lies Rhiannon tells Justin and even her mom so she can run off and be with A; it's all very adorable. There's unique and wonderful discussion about sex, gender, and what it means to love a person rather than a body (but why preference is also important), but now we see Rhiannon coming to terms with that rather than having A literally exude that philosophy from their life. The novel climaxes and ends on a similar note to Every Day. 

My only real problem with this book is that Justin features so prominently in it. There are too many Justin thoughts. He's a gross human being who, while I now understand better, only hate more. And Rhiannon nearly wants him back at a point! This is where Rhiannon's side of the narration gets hard to deal with, as her self-hatred mixes itself with her dying love for Justin and it takes its toll on her. It is highly fascinating and leads to very painful moments like this:

"A lot of the time, love feels like it's about figuring out what the other person wants and giving it over."
While personally I like what this does for the tension, as it complicates the primary relationship in the novel, it brought, in my mind, too much negativity and confusion to the book, often leaving Rhiannon tired and angry, unable to neutrally and effectively understand A or tackle the hard questions the book has to offer, which she leaves for later in the book, only easing them out in the first two acts.

In all, it's a very good book. Whether you've read Every Day or not, I think this will be an enjoyable journey.
- Marlon

Do you have a "type?"
Let us know in the comments!

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