Synopsis: Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook and Liar.
Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.
Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.
Ugh. I wanted to like this. Really, I did. But it just…wasn’t in the cards. Or should I say…foretold by the Magic 8-Ball. (That’s a halfhearted reference to this book. Check.)
God, I’m literally intimidated by the thought of trying to review this. It seems so haaaard to put my thoughts into words. I’ll try. Kind of.
Let’s start with the good stuff, though. This book focuses on Alex, a high school senior with paranoid schizophrenia. I was hype to read about schizophrenia. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that in YA, and I used to be obsessed with it. (See, schizophrenia doesn’t start presenting itself in most people until the late teenage years, so I used to have a gripping fear that I would have it. But that’s a story for another day. Or never.)
Anyway. I don’t have schizophrenia (or I don’t know I do – shoutout to past me), so I can’t really speak to whether this book is an accurate display of the mental illness. But, to me, an outsider, it felt real. The most popular quote from this book is “Sometimes I think people take reality for granted.”, and I definitely felt like I was questioning reality right alongside Alex. Her hallucinations are often presented as reality, so the reader has to sort out what’s real and what isn’t. If nothing else, it’s an interesting storytelling tactic, and it has some big payoffs.
The only other upside of this book is that there are a few REALLY fun plot twists, and I didn’t see them coming AT ALL. I gasped aloud at one. It’s a ride.
But…everything else about this book filled me with hatred. It was fairly unbearable. We’ll get into it. (I’m appropriating that phrase from straight shooter and podcaster extraordinaire Jon Lovett.)
Whoa, wait, hang on. I just glanced at the synopsis, and this book claims it will “appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook and Liar.” What in tarnation? Wes ANDERSON? The nerve. What the f*ck this book has to do with that filmmaking genius I may never know. Anyway.
This book is just littered with stupid mistakes and irritating inconsistencies. I didn’t think I was going to review this, so I didn’t write that many down, but I’ll try to dredge some up from my tragic, limited and upsetting memories of this book.
Alex always says her town is small, but it’s made up of like a bajillion “subdivisions” and each “subdivision” is made up of several “neighborhoods.” Also, Alex gives a lot of inconsistent information about finances: her family is “dirt poor,” but they could easily drop $70 for a new school uniform, it’s just that her mom wants to guilt trip her instead. Add to that that her mom is chomping at the bit to ship her off to a mental hospital and we get a whole bunch of confusing info. That shit’s expensive, man. Like, really, really expensive.
On top of that, this book is BONKERS UNREALISTIC. Everything about it. I just wanted to shriek while I was reading it. None of the characters feel real. There’s a psychopathic, cheerleading blonde (clichéd AND unrealistic); a principal who went insane because…he got electrocuted?; a conspiracy in a high school administration; a teenager who “runs jobs” like putting fleas in a kid’s bed and IcyHot in his underwear – and GETS PAID HANDSOMELY BY FELLOW TEENAGERS; a community-service club for troublemakers; an architect father who spends weeks and months in Africa only to make no money…there’s definitely more but I want to repress the memory of this book again.
Alex always complains about how she neverrrr had the chance to have friends – even though she, like, just spent a year attending another school – and suddenly friends just SPRING UP at her new school. Literally spring up. I was like, “Ah, several acquaintances, to whom Alex may perhaps wave in the halls, but certainly not people she could call friends, by any means.” And then suddenly, she’s all, WOWWWW, MY FRIENDSSSS! AMAZING TO HAVE FRIENDS!
And oh, yeah. The love interest in this book? SUCKS. F*ckin’ Miles. He’s the aforementioned job-running teen, and he’s the worsttttt. Apparently, he has problems with empathy, and that’s why he’s okay with doing stuff like LIFE-RUINING PRANKS. It makes no sense, it really doesn’t. There are sociopaths who fit in better than he does. THOUSANDS OF THEM.
But the worst part of this book? I’ve read World War II historical fiction with fewer mentions of Nazis. Everyone calls Miles a Nazi, because he’s Aryan, mean as sh*t, and speaks with a German accent sometimes. After hundreds of pages of this utter bullsh*t, he – one f*cking time – screams that genocide isn’t funny. Already too little, too late, no? Add to that some Nazi sympathizing (he wears a Nazi bomber jacket, and tells Alex that not everyone wanted to be a Nazi) and the fact that he DRESSES LIKE A NAZI FOR PETTY CASH, and I’m f*cking done. It’s not funny. You’re not allowed to try to get me to sympathize with your piece of sh*t asshole of a character by downplaying the systemic murder of millions of people. Seventy years isn’t enough for me to think that’s okay. A THOUSAND years won’t make that okay. And that’s why this shit isn’t getting any bonus points for mental illness rep. Normalization of the Third f*ckin’ Reich deducts as many points as possible.
On top of that, this book is just weirdly written and f*cking annoying, IMO. I was so sick of it by the end I could puke.
Bottom line: There aren’t enough O’s in the world to satisfy my NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.