Published by Balzer + Bray (2.10.2015)
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Format: Audiobook, 302 pages
Length: 8 hours, 14 minutes
Narrator: Rebecca Lowman
Sixteen-year-old physics nerd Aysel is obsessed with plotting her own death. With a mother who can barely look at her without wincing, classmates who whisper behind her back, and a father whose violent crime rocked her small town, Aysel is ready to turn her potential energy into nothingness.
There’s only one problem: she’s not sure she has the courage to do it alone. But once she discovers a website with a section called Suicide Partners, Aysel’s convinced she’s found her solution: a teen boy with the username FrozenRobot (aka Roman) who’s haunted by a family tragedy is looking for a partner.
Even though Aysel and Roman have nothing in common, they slowly start to fill in each other’s broken lives. But as their suicide pact becomes more concrete, Aysel begins to question whether she really wants to go through with it. Ultimately, she must choose between wanting to die or trying to convince Roman to live so they can discover the potential of their energy together. Except that Roman may not be so easy to convince.
“The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” – Milton
This book didn’t get to me as much as I’d hoped it would. I didn’t cry while reading it – there were a few quotes that hit me really hard, but I didn’t actually get choked up until I read the author’s note. The book itself fell a bit flat for me, which makes me really sad.
I felt like it lacked direction at times, meandering and dragging in a way that made me want to just get it over with. I didn’t really like Aysel or Roman very much, despite their struggles being profound and relatable. For some reason I just didn’t care about them. Which made me not care about the romance, either.
I wonder if that’s how darkness wins, by convincing us to trap it inside ourselves, instead of emptying it out.
I did relate, though. As someone who has struggled with depression, this book really struck a nerve at times. I have never been suicidal, but I can definitely understand how the darkness inside (or as Aysel calls it, the black slug, which I thought was a great term for it) can overcome you. The meaning behind this is the most important part of this book. It’s definitely impactful, and there were SO many quotes that I felt to the core of me. (This book is so quotable!!) There’s a message of endurance and hope – your situation is only temporary, and if you only endure it and hold out hope that things can get better, they eventually will. Darkness isn’t permanent.
Everything used to seem so final, inevitable, predestined. But now I’m starting to believe that life may have more surprises in store than I ever realized. Maybe it’s all relative, not just light and time like Einstein theorized, but everything. Like life can seem awful and unfixable until the universe shifts a little and the observation point is altered, and then suddenly, everything seems more bearable.
And maybe the black slug will always live inside of me. Maybe I’ll always have bad days where the heaviness seems unbearable. But as cheesy as it sounds, maybe the good days will make it worth getting through the bad ones.
“But really, Milton and Einstein were kind of saying the same thing. That everything is subjective in the human mine. Our emotions, our opinions, they’re all relative. It all depends on perspective.”
I can feel everything. And I want to keep feeling everything. Even the painful, awful, terrible things. Because feeling things is what lets us know that we’re alive.
The ending left me feeling unsatisfied in a nameless way. I suppose it’s mostly because it felt like there was no closure, or catharsis. I would have really liked to have seen closure between Aysel and her father. And I felt really underwhelmed with the open ending we got between Aysel and Roman.
I feel like I probably enjoyed it more listening than I would have if I’d tried to physically read, but it didn’t blow me away or anything. Rebecca Lowman was a solid narrator. Not a favorite by far, but I’d probably listen to her again!
Writing style: 3.5/5
Overall rating: 3/5