Book Talk: The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody

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

Book Talk: The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica BrodyThe Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody
Published by Simon Pulse on November 28, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 406
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss
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Ryn has one unread text message on her phone. And it’s been there for almost a year.

She hasn’t tried to read it. She can’t. She won’t. Because that one message is the last thing her best friend ever said to her before she died.

But as Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her.

And his name is Xander.

When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. But as the bizarre night continues, all Ryn can think about is that one unread text message. It follows her wherever she goes, because Ryn can’t get her brialliantly wild and free-spirited best friend out of her head.

Ryn can’t move on.

But tonight, for the first time ever, she’s trying. And maybe that’s a start.

This may not make me sound like the best, but I’mma be real with you guys. Jessica Brody was on my list of authors I really didn’t think were for me. I’ve read two of her books before this one: Unremembered, which I thought was, well, pretty bad, and In Some Other Life, which was pretty good but not very memorable. Though obviously I hadn’t totally written her off (pun intended), I didn’t ever expect to love something she would write. You guys, I was wrong, and circumstances like this are pretty much the only time I’m happy to be wrong.

I’m not certain whether the reason The Chaos of Standing Still worked so well for me where the others missed the mark (a lot or a bit respectively) is because of the difference in genre (Unremembered is science fiction and In Some Other Life is a Sliding Doors type thing) or happenstance or that Brody’s improving with each book. Of course there’s little doubt that on the surface, The Chaos of Standing Still screams Christina book, which is exactly why I decided to download it despite expecting the odds of DNF to be fairly high. That and the cover. That cover is fucking cute.

For those looking for an unpredictable read, The Chaos of Standing Still will likely not be what you want, but I find this book the good kind of predictable. The plot structure is familiar; I may not have read this exact same set up, but I’ve read romances trapped in airports and books about grief where the MC can’t bring her/himself to read that last message. Put together, there’s little doubt how everything will ultimately shake out. When the story elements are all familiar, the crucial element is the characterization, and, thankfully, I loved Ryn.

It’s almost a year to the day since Ryn’s best friend Lottie died, taking joy and excitement with her. Lottie was the Lily to Ryn’s Veronica, though take that comparison loosely because Ryn’s no Veronica. Also, remember that Veronica pre-Lily’s death is a very different person than who she becomes after the trauma of her friend’s death (and other things). Lottie’s an exuberant extrovert, full of big dreams and a boundless sense of adventure. To Ryn, she’s been the sun, sharing a bit of her light.

In the friendship of Ryn and Lottie, there’s the one real surprise (at least to me) of The Chaos of Standing Still. Often, with friendship dynamics like that, part of recovery is realizing the toxic and unbalanced nature of the friendship, but there’s nothing like that here. Ryn has always been aware of Lottie’s weaknesses, in judgment mostly, but that’s what made her feel they completed each other so well. Ryn kept them safe, and Lottie ensured they had fun. The Chaos of Standing Still is all about Ryn’s journey to acceptance, as expected, and figuring out how to be her own light without dependence on Lottie.

Ryn’s narrative voice is so good. She’s eminently relatable, with her grouchiness and awkwardness and anxiety. Ryn has always been a “good girl” and very in control, but Lottie’s death has changed her. I’m not totally sure how she was before, but I suspect that her anxiety, which involves googling every question she thinks of for a clear answer, worsened after the death, because of the loss of a sense of control. Though in therapy, she refuses to talk, stonewalling her therapist. I like the sense that, once she’s managed to open up to someone, she will go home and tell the truth to her therapist and her family. While her breakthrough didn’t come from therapy, there’s no dismissal of its usefulness either.

Trapped at the airport with the anniversary of Lottie’s death approaching, Ryn meets a cast of quirky characters. They’re not as well-developed as she is, but neither are they flat, and they’re all interesting. There’s a minor subplot (this word is too strong but I don’t know what else to call it) about an unaccompanied minor (miner) investigating the Denver airport conspiracies which amuses and doesn’t take up so much space as to be annoying. The airport friends she makes are ridiculous and over-the-top but fun.

The boy, Xander, is adorable. He’s going through his own shit (with his bestselling psychologist parents), which definitely makes things feel a bit more balanced. When a book’s so much about the MC’s character arc, sometimes the love interest takes a backseat and is just supportive and perfect. Not that Xander isn’t supportive, because he super is. The shippiest moment is definitely the poker game; I always love games like that as a device for facilitating emotional closeness between relative strangers. The romance works more effectively for the ending being a bit open-ended rather than going full-on instalove after a day.

The Chaos of Standing Still has been flying under the radar, but it shouldn’t be. Even if Jessica Brody hasn’t been your author in the past,The Chaos of Standing Still may be worth a shot; I know it was for me.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

One response to “Book Talk: The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody”

  1. I agree that although the book was pretty predictable, it was a well told story with interesting characters. This is my favorite book by Jessica Brody. I also read A Week of Mondays by her and enjoyed it, but found it to be rather long. I am glad you gave the author another chance and it was a hit! Her new book coming out The Geography of Lost Things sounds pretty good too.
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