Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Book Review: One Plus One Equals Blue by M.J. Auch

Title: One Plus One Equals Blue
Author: M.J. Auch
Published by: Henry Holt and Company (2013)

My Rating: ✭✭✭✩✩

SUMMARY FROM GOODREADS:

Twelve year-old Basil knows he’s special—he’s been associating numbers with colors since he was a kid. His gift (or curse) has turned him into somewhat of a loner, but his world begins to change when he meets Tenzie, the new girl in school who has similar freakisms. She, too, has synesthesia (a condition in which one type of stimulation evokes the sensation of another). At first, Basil is somewhat annoyed with Tenzie’s pushiness, but after Basil’s estranged mother returns, his life is turned upside down . . . and Tenzie may be the only person to help him put it back together again.

My Review:

I wasn’t impressed. The story was decent enough, I guess, but it was just so flat. From reviews I’d read, I’d expected something touching and an amazing chronicle of synesthesia, but instead I found a juvenile story of a boy struggling with the fact that his mother dumped him, and the difference a friend has on him. 

Though at first glance this appears to be a story about synesthia, it really only is an element. The real story is about Basil, a boy raised by his grandmother ever since his mother, Carly, dumped him as a child. He struggles with that, with having friends, with school in general. The synesthia adds a cool element, but it wasn’t the focus at all.

Characters: The characters were inconsistant and unlikeable. I’m sorry, but it’s how I felt. Basil was so inconsistant and bitter it was impossible to feel bad or like him. One scene he says he misses his mother so much and wants her back and the next he’s shouting at her and saying he hates her. Back and forth. Back and forth. Maybe it would have been believable if it was written well, but the writing wasn’t all that good at all. Tenzie was too everything: too cheery, too happy, too energetic, too loud, too outgoing. She didn’t seem realisitic at all. True, in the end she seems a bit more dejected when she runs away—but overall, she never changes and is just too much. 

Plot: The storyline felt forced. It kind of made no sense to me and the twists were not done well. I couldn’t figure out who was good and who was bad: one scene Carly’s the good guy, the next she’s not, the next she is…There were so many twists that really just flopped, despite the potential it had to be good. The whole runaway thing made no sense to me; rather it seemed like the author was just trying to fill space. The ending was unnatural and too long. The actual ending I guess was sweet, but it took so long to get to it. I just got so bored by the end. It was just so repetitive—that’s the word I was looking for. It was extremely repetitive and most of the plot made no sense and contributed in no way to the storyline. Like the Peter Pan play. It shows up in full drama for ten pages and then disappears off the face of the earth, never to return. What was the point of it, exactly? One minute Carly is being painted as a kind, goodhearted girl, and the next a deadbeat mom who’s wicked and messed up. Back and forth. Repeating. Predictable.

Negatives: This was also extremely juvenile and unrealisitic. Seventh graders are not studying multiplication problems, yet in this book they are. It felt like a fantasy, not a real life book, and the unrealisitic school facts didn’t contribute. These characters are supposed to be middle schoolers, yet they’re still doing math problems like “74 x 9.” Seriously, M.J. Auch? Seriously?

All and all, though, I did like it enough to finish it and the few facts about synesthia were fascinating. I just really wasn’t impressed and rather kind of disappointed. I guess it is a pretty sweet story, just for me personally I did not love it. Most people will probably love this story; but as for me as a writer, I see the writing flaws and my vision of a book depends on how good the writing is, and in the case of One Plus One Equals Blue, it just wasn’t good enough for me to really love it. 3.0 stars.

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