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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Everyone in homeroom 10B had a fairly normal life. School, home, significant others, same shit as any other teenager...until they go to get their flu shots from the school nurse. Suddenly they all develop telepathy and start hearing things that they'd rather not. The hope to keep their secrets is not looking good, since the entire group can hear their inner workings and a secret split between 22 people is difficult to keep. Mackenzie cheated on her devoted boyfriend, Tess is secretly in love with Teddy, and BJ is the class perv. That and much more is in store for this group of kids who go from a bunch of "I"s to a singular "we".
This is probably the only book I've read that does such a great job of keeping up with such a large ensemble cast. The cover is a bit deceiving because there are 22 kids "infected" with ESP and all of them have at least a minor role. Obviously you get a bit more from some than others, but it wasn't nearly as confusing as I thought it would be to follow so many characters stories simultaneously. Each character is fleshed out with their own individual personality, no two being overly similar. Olivia, Mackenzie, Pi, Tess, and Cooper are the "main" characters, at the forefront of most of the novel, but we get quite a bit from the rest. I could sympathize with all them, but I have to say that I am not a fan of Pi, especially after that stunt she pulls at the end. Not cool lady, not cool.
I'm not Mackenzie's biggest fan, but it's hard not to empathize with her. Yes, she fucked up and cheated on Cooper and that is a terrible, unforgivable thing, but she is so damn contrite that it's hard to stay angry at her. Don't get me wrong, I think Cooper should dump her and stick to that decision because it's bound to happen again, but I could feel Mackenzie's pain over everything that was happening. Olivia and Tess were probably my favorite two, the two I could relate to the most. BJ was also a favorite because he becomes so sincere and sweet.
I knew going in that this would be that great combination of funny and realistic, despite the paranormal aspect. I love Mlynowski's Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have) because it was funny and insightful and beautifully realistic. Mlynowski's voice is similar here. These kids get ESP and learn that they should be more worried about what their friends are really thinking than anything else. The fight and grow closer and struggle with personal dilemma's with a true to life fashion that you can't help but fall in love with them. They grew into that sibling mentality of I can bitch about you all I want but nobody else better fucking dare. Despite the telepathy, this is much more about this bunch of kids finding themselves and their relationships than the actual ability. It helps, and makes for amusing reading, but it's not the heart of the story.
I really enjoyed this little novel. My biggest issue is that the ending seemed less than realistic. I know, I'm reading about a group of teens who accidentally become telepathic and here I am bitching about realism,
but I just didn't quite believe it. I also think it was a bit too short. There was a lot of plot to get through and I felt like a story or two deserve a bit more time to fully develop and wrap up. You have an ensemble cast of 22 teens who suddenly develop telepathy and you somehow cover everything that needs to be addressed within 320 pages? Maybe I'm just snippy because I would have loved a hundred more pages of this humors, heart-felt text, but I just think it deserved a bit more.
Despite the minor complaints, I really enjoyed this novel. These characters will make you laugh and cry and curse their stupidity. Why, Mackenzie, did you cheat on Cooper? Why do you just go along with what Lazar says Olivia? Tess, can you just let Teddy go because you deserve better? One of my favorite things about it was the group's running commentary. You get things from specific characters points of view, but even then, the entire group gets to weigh in at times, giving their opinions on whatever is going on, trivial or otherwise. It was exactly what I was looking for, a witty, humorous tale about learning the truth, whether you are ready for it or not.
****Thank you to Delacourte Press, an imprint of Random House Children's Division, for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****