Synopsis: Janie and Micah, Micah and Janie. That’s how it’s been ever since elementary school, when Janie Vivien moved next door. Janie says Micah is everything she is not. Where Micah is shy, Janie is outgoing. Where Micah loves music, Janie loves art. It’s the perfect friendship—as long as no one finds out about it. But then Janie goes missing and everything Micah thought he knew about his best friend is colored with doubt.
Using a nonlinear writing style and dual narrators, Amy Zhang reveals the circumstances surrounding Janie’s disappearance in a second novel.
This is going to be a stream of consciousness review, because I’m so fucking angry and I don’t want to think about this but my fingers are twitching and I need to do something. (If you couldn’t already tell, this will be angry and expletive-filled.)
This will also be teeming with spoilers, absolutely filled with them, but I don’t care and neither should you because nobody should ever goddamn read this stupid book.
Janie Vivian is a manic pixie dream girl. She has a stupid, manic pixie dream girl name, and manic pixie dream girl bright red hair, and a manic pixie dream girl obsession with a fucking pile of rocks, and cutesy, manic pixie dream girl alcoholism, and inspires obsessive, defining love into the hearts of boring guys like only a manic pixie dream girl could.
Everyone just looooves Janie. Teachers love her and treat her like the ocean fucking birthed her into the hallways of a public high school. The popular group welcomes her with open arms, for some goddamn reason. Her best friend loves her enough to bring her Starbucks every morning, which is frankly just financially irresponsible for a high school student, but what fucking ever.
But nobody loves Janie like Miiiicahhhh.
Janie and Micah are best friends, supposedly. They have been for years, supposedly. They have the most unrealistic and toxic and cringeworthy relationship ever. Wait, no, not cringeworthy. A million times more than cringeworthy. Scream-and-tear-out-the-pages-and-throw-them-into-a-pit-of-acid worthy. Rolls off the tongue.
Here’s how Janie speaks to Micah: <i>Micah, my beautiful sunflower, you are filled with a light that rivals the stars I hold so dear. We share a soul. Every time I see you, I’ll say that I love you more than everything, and you’ll tell me you love me more than anything, k? It’s cutesy. The couples that are made up of one manic pixie dream and one platter of unseasoned chicken with plain toast always have something cute they say to each other. Okay? Okay. Get it? That was an example. Aren’t I funny and charming and life-changing? Insane and wild and worth it, darling? Thanks. And, um…I love this pile of rocks? I’m going to take some rocks from it and write Virginia Woolf quotes on them and carry them in my pockets? Is that manic pixie-esque enough?</i>
In return for this validation, etc., Micah allows Janie to do shit like this: Never speak to him at school; break into his home; prevent him from studying/scatter his notes; make out with him and then turn around and make out with another guy; be aware for years that he is in looooove with her but just continue leading him on; try to prevent him from being friends with anyone else; tell him his best friend is in love with him just because his best friend is gay and she’s jealous and manipulative and psychotic.
But it’s okayyyy, you guys. Because she’s quirky. She takes shots of vodka without a chaser. She has a <i>thing</i> for metaphors.
Hang on. This is making me angrier. Cookie break.
Alright I’m back.
Everything’s coming up roses for good old Janie Vivian. (I love the two-first-names rule for manic pixie dream girls. Hazel Grace Lancaster; Lindsey Lee Wells; Margo Roth Spiegelman. Or at least weird names – Ramona Flowers, Alaska Young; Holly Golightly. But I digress.)
Anyway, life is just a romp in the park for Janie – or, to put it in her terms, a drunken winter’s night at the quarry spent spewing truisms about nature and life.
But, as we all have learned from books by John Green and movies starring Kirsten Dunst and Zooey Deschanel, things NEVER end up well for a manic pixie dream girl. That wouldn’t be tryhardy-powerful enough; it wouldn’t have the right sickly-sweet <i>meaning</i> to it.
Janie Vivian needs a reason to disappear from the book.
Trigger warning –
Janie Vivian is raped, and she burns her house down and kills herself because of it.
And Micah is so traumatized he spends the whole book forgetting it anytime someone tells him. We spend 300 pages tracing the truth, and that’s what we fucking get. We get rape as a plot device.
And of course the timing of the suicide is just fabulous. Of course it’s the night Micah grows a backbone. The night he tells her it’s not okay for her to treat him the way she does. She kills herself right after he says it. Like it’s not acceptable to stand up for yourself in a toxic friendship. Fuck off. It’s not extra powerful if you try to ruin a friendship in addition to killing off your main character.
We spend 300 pages chasing what happened – see, Micah’s forgotten an entire goddamn year, because that makes sense – and when we finally get it, the book ends. We get the truth, Micah says “I KILLED HER! NOW I’LL KILL MYSELF!,” Micah’s friend – I wish I was joking – says “Just be a better friend in the future.”
And then the book
Everything definitely got concluded very well, thank you. That was simply wonderful.
And on top of it all, this doesn’t have anything to do with the apocalypse. The “““world ends””” for Micah because Janie killed herself.
Just when I was wishing the heavens would smite this whole book.
And I nearly forgot! I actually did forget until I was looking this back over to post on the ol’ blog. But anyway, here’s a couple lines of dialogue from this book.
“‘I am crazy. So are you,’ Janie said. ‘All the best people are. Who said that?’
‘Lewis Carroll. Lewis Carroll said that.’”
On the surface, it’s not any worse than any other terrible conversation in this book, but GUESS WHAT? Lewis Carroll never goddamn said that. It’s not from Alice in Wonderland, my favorite book for all time forever. It’s from Tim Burton’s uniquely shitty adaptation. That’s just maybe the funniest thing about this book to me. The only funny bit. How is it possible that that could be published? God. America is dying.
Bottom line: rape and suicide as plot devices, a manic pixie dream girl like you’ve never seen, the most boring male character of all time…and the sum is greater than its parts when it comes to how much I fucking hate this book. I need a rating below one star.