Review + Giveaway: Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone

Review + Giveaway: Amelia Anne Is Dead and GoneAmelia Anne Is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfield
Published by Dutton Juvenile on July 5, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery
Pages: 304
Format: ARC
Source: Gifted
Goodreads
two-half-stars

An arresting un-coming-of-age story, from a breathtaking talent

Becca has always longed to break free from her small, backwater hometown. But the discovery of an unidentified dead girl on the side of a dirt road sends the town--and Becca--into a tailspin. Unable to make sense of the violence of the outside world creeping into her backyard, Becca finds herself retreating inward, paralyzed from moving forward for the first time in her life.

Short chapters detailing the last days of Amelia Anne Richardson's life are intercut with Becca's own summer as the parallel stories of two young women struggling with self-identity and relationships on the edge twist the reader closer and closer to the truth about Amelia's death.

First Sentence: “The night before Amelia Anne Richardson bled her life away on a parched dirt road outside of town, I bled out my dignity in the back of a pickup truck under a star-pricked sky.”

Review:
Oh, that awkward moment where you read a book that’s come highly recommended to you from just about everyone you know and then you don’t like the book. There seem to be a lot of times where I’m that guy: the one who goes against the grain of popular opinion. I could list a number of books my friends all loved that I didn’t like much at all, as well as ones pretty much no one else cared for that I thought were fabulous. Honestly, it’s frustrating this divide that leaves me agreeing with others no more than 3/4 of the time.

Though I did not particularly enjoy this book, I am not blind to its charms, so do allow me to start there. Kat Rosenfield has, no doubt, a marvelous career ahead of her. With the first sentence, I knew that I would love her writing, and I was right about that at least. If this is how well she writes a debut, she will be going big places. Her style perfectly matched the tone of the novel, a mood of hopelessness, of loss, and of confusion.

Also on the positive side, I give Rosenfield full credit for telling a unique story, one I have never seen the likes of in YA fiction. She parallels the lives of the titular Amelia Anne and Becca, born and raised in the town where Amelia Anne breathed her last. Both girls are in love, or think they are, with boys who fail to please them sexually. Both have big plans that they fear their boyfriends will not support. Amelia Anne graduated from college the same day that Becca graduated from high school. Amelia Anne died, stuck forever in some sense in this town where Becca dreads being trapped.

Moving into what I did not like now, I have to go back to the writing. Much as I loved the way Rosenfield phrased things and put together her sentences, I did not like the storytelling method she used. I did like getting to see both from Becca’s perspective in the present and Amelia Anne’s perspective in the days leading up to her death, although I really hate the way her chapters weren’t given chapter numbers. What drove me crazy, however, was that the narration occasionally either switched to third person omniscient in Becca’s section or that she was telling the story from some unidentified date in the future. The numbered chapters often included reflections on things Becca simply could not know or hints at knowledge she could not yet have possessed. These details detracted from the novel for me, rather than adding additional crucial knowledge.

Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone is one of those books about terrible people. All of them, with the exception of Amelia Anne, are awful. I did not like a single one of them. Of course, sometimes authors can make this work, make you curious about characters you would happily hurl off a cliff. In this case, though, I just did not care about them. When the dramatic twists happened, instead of being shocked and excited, I was more like “whatever, can we please move this along?” and entirely bored with the whole thing. No matter how clever twists are, if you’re not emotionally invested, they lack impact.

Were it not for the beauty of the writing, this rating would be a 2. Though I didn’t like this, I urge you not to take this book off your list solely based on my review, as so many reviewers I trust implicitly loved it. As it is, I would read something else of Rosenfield’s in a heartbeat, because of how incredibly talented I can tell she is.

Favorite Quote:

“Innocence can only last so long, especially the kind that comes from growing up sheltered by quiet neighborhoods, immaculate concrete sidewalks, so much nothingness for miles around. Kids riding plastic Big Wheel biked too fast down dead-end streets; spills taken on sharp corners; asphalt picked out of knees and elbows that bleed, scab over, then heal. Same faces, same streets, day in and day out, eyes that never witness anything more desolate than those empty, gravel-strewn country roads. And then, one day and all at once, the veil lifts.”

Giveaway:
Since I know others have loved this, I am passing along my ARC to someone who will no doubt appreciate the book more than I do.
Some other reviews to check out in case mine doesn’t make you want the book:
Wendy of The Midnight Garden: “One of my favorite books this year is definitely Kat Rosenfeld’s Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone.”
Jenni of Alluring Reads: “This is a fantastic story and one that I definitely feel I could read again and again and come away with something new each time.”
Kelly J. of Stacked: “Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone is Kat Rosenfield’s debut and it is a knock out.”

US/CAN only. Just fill out THIS FORM and leave a comment on the review by December 26th.

40 responses to “Review + Giveaway: Amelia Anne Is Dead and Gone”

  1. fakesteph says:

    I’ve got this and have been meaning to read it. Even though you didn’t love it, I’m not dying to read it. I… kind of love terrible people… mostly just in novels though.

    • Christina says:

      Ha, terrible people can work for me as characters sometimes. I don’t know. I love when they embrace their awfulness, like in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia!

  2. God, I loved this book. I’m sad you didn’t like it, and I’m kind of surprised. I do understand where you’re coming from with the omniscient third-person. I personally liked it, but I can see how that would drive someone crazy.

  3. Bookworm1858 says:

    I’m with you-I didn’t really like this book either. I found it incredibly depressing even though I could admire the writing and its unique story.

  4. Shelver506 says:

    I completely understand where you’re coming from. Every time I post a negative review on a book everyone else seems to love, I hear Meg Ryan from You’ve Got Mail in my head. “I am a lone reed…”

  5. Renae says:

    It seems like, now the buzz is dying down, this book is getting a few questionable reviews. Honestly, the only real draw for me with this book is what I’ve heard about Rosenfield’s prose. It seems like everything else is more or less a bust.

  6. Nori says:

    Interesting. This just sounded so good! But it’s totally acceptable to have a different opinion! I like getting different opinions. Also, it sucks to like books that everyone else hates… It’s super hard to enjoy books when you hate almost all the characters, so I totally understand.

  7. I’m definitely with you on the whole “what to do when you disagree with others?” EASY was that book for me, and that got so much hype. It’s nice that the writing was beautiful, though I too dislike when there is a sudden change in tenses or when you’re not sure when exactly each event is taking place. (That is a beautiful quote you chose, too.) Hmm….

    • Christina says:

      Oh no! Everyone has pretty much loved that. I can’t get it for a while unless my library caves and buys it.

      Ironically, the quotes was from one of the oddly third person passages.

  8. Twisty J says:

    Thank you for your honest review. This is one that I have been wanting to read, and it is good to hear another perspective. I tend to like haunting books, and this one sounds right up my alley, even if the characters are largely unlikable. Thanks for the chance!

  9. Anita Yancey says:

    I loved your review on this book. I’m sorry that you didn’t like it. But it really sounds like my kind of book. I like the characters and the story line and know I would enjoy it. Thanks for having this giveaway.

    ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

  10. Oh, I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this Christina! I totally get what you’re saying about the format, though–I think it would have been a stronger book if it weren’t so deliberately twisty. I think some of that did work against it, and I can see how it would get in the way of your enjoyment of the novel.

    I’m glad you liked the writing, though, and will check out her future books. I’m really interested in seeing what she comes up with next.

    • Christina says:

      Yes, even though I don’t necessarily like what she did with the novel, she’s obviously talented, and I do look forward to seeing what she does with her skills next!

  11. I really want to read this book but the HC is just too pricey for my budget so I have to wait for a cheaper edition in paperback. I’m sorry you didn’t like it. I also often end up disappointed in a lot of titles but I hope this won’t be one of them.

  12. I’ve only read five and four star reviews for this, so I’ve got to say, it’s refreshing seeing a negative review for this one! (Though it sucks you didn’t like this one.) This one has been a ‘maybe’ for me for a while, because while the positive reviews were definitely a plus, and the plot seemed interesting, I had a feeling there’d be a lot of angst. After reading your review, though, I *think* it would end up being something I’d like (at least three stars), but then again I definitely don’t like being bored (obviously), and I just find it really hard to enjoy books with intentionally unlikable characters (ie: Blind Spot). No matter what goes on in the book, if I hate all the characters I WILL be waiting until their death which will most likely never arrive, and then I’ll end up being disappointed. So now I’m conflicted. Plot sounds interesting and something I’d like, but I will probably/definitely hate the characters…

    I think I might pass. *shrugs* I don’t know. (I’ve shrugged in your comments quite often today. Hmm.)

    • Christina says:

      I aim to please…by not being pleased. <_ < Or something. I thought I would love it after the first chapter, but it was downhill from there for me.

      Depending on how the characters turn out for you, I could see this being at least a 3 for you. I think you like mysteries more than I do. *shrugs back*

  13. Stephanie says:

    I’m curious to read this one, but I have a strong suspicion I won’t like it either…it sounds kind of like Imaginary Girls, which I wasn’t crazy about.

  14. Kirsten! says:

    Hm, despite several negative reviews I’ve read about this, it still intrigues me. I have pretty odd tastes sometimes, so I think I’ll check this out regardless- but, thanks to your review, with much lowered expectations.

  15. Erika says:

    How disappointing to hear you didn’t like the characters. I still would like to give it a try after hearing about the mysterious violence. Thanks for your thoughts!

  16. I hate reading a book that other people love, but that I end up hating. Oh, well. We can’t like them all! I would still be interested in reading this one, though! Great review! And, thank you for the giveaway!

    :).

  17. Makaela says:

    I usually read the description/blurbs on books before I read them and then see how others reviewed it. After seeing such high praise for Divergent I thought I was going to love it, but it was one of the worst I have ever read! Sometimes I don’t know why I listen to reviews on Goodreads, I have found some great books that others I follow didn’t like at all. Amelia, Dead and Gone seems interesting, although I am still, after reading your review a bit wary of how good the writing is to make me read it anytime soon.

    • Christina says:

      Ha, well, I am right there with you on GR. I’ve found that about the closest anyone gets to my opinions is 75%. So, at best, I agree with others on 3 out of 4 books. Usually if I read something my friends liked, I like it too, but this was an outlier.

  18. Awww 🙁 Too bad you didn’t like this one. It sounds rather interesting! But glad to see the writing’s good 🙂 Great review!!

  19. OMG! I totally understand where you are coming from! I read so many books that were highly recommended but most I didn’t like. I can totally see why you didn’t really enjoy the writing style. Greatttt review! <3

    • Christina says:

      Thanks, I did like her writing, but her stylistic choices didn’t necessarily help the story along. I loved the beginning, but it quickly went downhill for me. 🙁

  20. not yet reading this book but i already put on my TBR list…
    i love ur review..
    i will read mine asap…
    what a great book !! 🙂

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