Size Doesn’t Matter (99): It’s Not Me, It’s You; Wolf by Wolf; Gone Girl

I received this book for free from ALA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Size Doesn’t Matter (99): It’s Not Me, It’s You; Wolf by Wolf; Gone GirlIt's Not Me, It's You by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Published by Point on October 25, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Humor, Romance
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: ALA
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three-half-stars

One high school girl's comedic examination of her dating past as told by the friends, family, and boys who were involved!

Avery Dennis is a high school senior and one of the most popular girls in her class. But a majorly public breakup with the guy she's been dating causes some disastrous waves. It is right before prom and Avery no longer has the perfect date. She runs the prom committee, how could she not show up with somebody?

Post-breakup, Avery gets to thinking about all of the guys that she has ever dated. How come none of those relationships ever worked out? Could it be her fault? Avery decides to investigate. In history class she's learning about this method of record-keeping called "oral history" and she has a report due. So Avery decides to go directly to the source. Avery tracks down all of the guys she's ever dated, and uses that information, along with thoughts from her friends, family, and teachers, to compile a total account of her dating history.

Avery discovers some surprises about herself and the guys she's spent time with -- just in time for prom night!

Dahlia’s been shouting (lovingly) at me to read this book for months now, so I suspected It’s Not Me, It’s You was going to be a good read. As usual, Dahlia was right, though I did struggle with the format.

The premise of It’s Not Me, It’s You is that Avery Dennis, popular girl and serial dater, has just been dumped before prom. To figure out why none of her relationships has worked out, she decides to do her oral history project on her dating history, rather than more distant history, as intended. It’s a funny premise, but her oral history methods are super not accurate. She’s clearly there taking statements but people talk about her in the third person, which is weird. She puts snarky editor’s notes in after some statements, but she sometimes pretends not to know things she already knows (like about Coco and Michael).

If you can get past the illogic of it and just settle in for the ride, It’s Not Me, It’s You is hilarious to the degree that it made me laugh out loud multiple times. There’s also a super adorable ship. I am here for nerd boy ships for all time, and it’s really excellently done, even if again, the editor’s notes totally pretend not to know what’s up for longer than makes sense.

Set aside your editor brain and roll with it, and It’s Not Me, It’s You will make you laugh your ass off. It took me a while to turn my brain off sufficiently to not be bothered by the format. I would totally love this as a web series like Emma Approved. It helped when I stated picturing It’s Not Me, It’s You as a web series in my head instead of an oral history project.

For those contemporary romance, ship-loving folks who think they can get past the format, It’s Not Me, It’s You is a charming, under-the-radar gem. For the more pedantic folks, it’s going to be a struggle.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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Size Doesn’t Matter (99): It’s Not Me, It’s You; Wolf by Wolf; Gone GirlWolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Series: Wolf by Wolf #1
Published by Little Brown BFYR on October 20, 2015
Genres: Alternate History, Adventure, Science Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Source: Library
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four-half-stars

Her story begins on a train.

The year is 1956, and the Axis powers of the Third Reich and Imperial Japan rule. To commemorate their Great Victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito host the Axis Tour: an annual motorcycle race across their conjoined continents. The victor is awarded an audience with the highly reclusive Adolf Hitler at the Victor’s Ball in Tokyo.

Yael, a former death camp prisoner, has witnessed too much suffering, and the five wolves tattooed on her arm are a constant reminder of the loved ones she lost. The resistance has given Yael one goal: Win the race and kill Hitler. A survivor of painful human experimentation, Yael has the power to skinshift and must complete her mission by impersonating last year’s only female racer, Adele Wolfe. This deception becomes more difficult when Felix, Adele twin’s brother, and Luka, her former love interest, enter the race and watch Yael’s every move.

But as Yael grows closer to the other competitors, can she bring herself to be as ruthless as she needs to be to avoid discovery and complete her mission?

From the author of The Walled City comes a fast-paced and innovative novel that will leave you breathless.

The first time I read Wolf by Wolf, I was mightily impressed. I stand by what I said then, but I’m even more a fan on reread.

The pacing in Wolf by Wolf is top notch. Even knowing much of what was to come (but not all because hey sometimes my memory’s super useful), Wolf by Wolf kept me on the edge of my seat. There’s near constant action, but even more consistently there’s tension. The weaving together of past and present, as you’re caught up on Yael’s wolves is effective, the steady heartbeat that is driving Yael through the race, that’s helping her keep her focus and hold on to that bit of her that’s Yael.

The concept obviously requires accepting the basic skinshifting premise. There are things that don’t make sense, like how the pigment changes enable Yael to change her size and, presumably (though it’s not specifically addressed), her voice. You do have to roll with this, and I’m happy to because the concept’s a really awesome one. It’s nice too that, useful as the power is, Yael’s not happy about it, except that it might give her the power to take down the Third Reich.

The character dynamics are fraught and fucked up for a whole lot of reasons. I don’t want to get into that, but I’m curious to see how things go in Blood for Blood when Yael will hopefully get a chance to be Yael. Most people are held at a distance in Wolf by Wolf by the fact that Adele’s so focused on her mission and learning to be Adele. Things could be very different with Luka and Felix, good or bad.

I’m very glad I decided to reread before starting Blood for Blood, because I’d definitely forgotten crucial character elements and some plot points.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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Size Doesn’t Matter (99): It’s Not Me, It’s You; Wolf by Wolf; Gone GirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Narrator: Julia Whelan, Kirby Heyborne
Length: 19 hrs, 11 mins
Published by Random House Audio on August 26, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery
Format: Audiobook
Source: Library
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one-star

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy's diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

Usually, while I’m reading a book, I won’t talk about it, but I made no secret of my displeasure with bestseller Gone Girl. Knowing how massively popular something infuriating adds an extra bit of loathing to the experience. There will be spoilers, yo. Lots of spoilers. Not in spoiler code.

While on some level, I do understand why people were obsessed with this book and why it caught attention worldwide, ultimately I hate this book with a fierce passion. Elements of the story are definitely clever. From a plot perspective, the way that Amy put her revenge schemes together was fascinating and terrifying. I admit skepticism to her getting away with Desi’s murder so easily, especially since his actions shouldn’t have lined up with the early timeline when she was not with him but whatever. That aspect was clever.

However, that cannot overcome my loathing for how hatefully misogynistic Gone Girl is, from the title which dismisses an almost 40 year old woman as a girl through the last pages. Yes, I know the title was probably intended to lure you into thinking that Amy was helpless, a victim, but to that I say UGHHHHH.

Also, if that twist that Amy’s alive and has disappeared herself to punish her philandering husband was supposed to be surprising, then maybe, just maybe, Amy shouldn’t have come across as so incredibly hateful in her diary entries. Again, I think there was method to this, because Amy, as a psychopath (though she’s called a sociopath in the text, she’s most definitely a textbook psychopath) doesn’t have a good sense of what a nice person is like. Her diaries are a hint that she doesn’t really get humans. But still, I loathed Amy from the start and Nick, while a somewhat creepy shitbag jackass, didn’t really seem to have the smarts to make his wife gone. Not to mention that he was so obviously guilty acting that in mystery parlance, there’s no fucking way he could actually be the killer. Everything about the shocking twist in the middle was completely obvious based on how these two characters were written.

The sexism could probably have worked as an element of both Nick and Amy’s characters, given their backgrounds and mental states, but sexism comes from absolutely everyone in this book. It’s a neverending parade of what women do and how stupid women are, and I wanted to throw this book so hard (but I could not because iPod touches are expensive and also no longer made).

With the resolution, Nick staying with Amy to raise their child in her final checkmate of the book, I again think that Flynn’s trying to make a point. It’s super clunky though. Psychopaths intentionally become the ideal mate in the early stages of a relationship and then begin treating their partner more and more like shit once the partner’s addicted to their affirmation. Flynn states all of this straight out for you essentially in Amy’s narration and then in Nick’s. Even before the baby, Nick didn’t know if he could leave her because the good times are so good. It’s a terrifying, genuine truth, but the character arcs don’t feel quite right.

If you love reading books jam-packed with sexism and characters who want to hit in the face, Gone Girl‘s the book for you. If not, RUN RUN AWAY.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

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2 responses to “Size Doesn’t Matter (99): It’s Not Me, It’s You; Wolf by Wolf; Gone Girl”

  1. Heather says:

    Yes to every word of your Gone Girl review! Ughhhh!

  2. It’s refreshing to see someone else’s hatred for Gone Girl. I feel like I was super forgiving in my rating but it was such a chore to read and not enjoyable in the least. I much prefer her other stories, but this one was crap.
    Bonnie @ For the Love of Words recently posted…Early Review – Nine of Stars (Dark Alchemy #3) by Laura BickleMy Profile

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