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The Beginning of Everything

The Beginning of Everything - Robyn Schneider THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING is a fairly heavily hyped book, and the comparisons it has brought to John Green are very apt. Also, I’d throw in a comparison to (500) Days of Summer – there is a similar tone and similar characters, such as the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and the depressed guy who is a West Coast Hipster who listens to Arcade Fire and other bands that he self-labels as being hipster. I don’t know, Arcade Fire is Canadian. I just always thought Canadians were like that.At the end of the day, the problem with THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING rested mainly on one big glaring issue – I never connected with Ezra, our main character, or the cast that surrounded him, from his love interest and court mandated pixie Cassidy to his parents to the jocks to the nerds. Likewise, his issues never seemed relevant, from his health issues to his romance to his friend issues. They just seemed like rich white kid problems, problems that weren’t really problems, just tiny bumps in the road.Also, this book commits the cardinal sin for character deaths, but I am not going to spoil that for you. No, that ruins the surprise.HIPSTERFIC…FOR TEENS!As I’ve said, this one really reminded me of a more depressing version of (500) Days of Summer, complete with a twee Manic Pixie Dream Girl who wears men’s clothes (ironically), is like an emo poster child minus the bad looks, and knows Morse code. It seems like a hobby Zooey Deschanel would take up. Although, this isn’t true, because Cassidy wasn’t a properly defined character – she was everything and nothing at the same time, a poorly defined liar who was built on lies. Schneider wasted opportunities with her characters to go beyond the tropes and create a well-defined, well-progressing cast, and instead fell back into the same tropes of a Green novel mixed with a much more whiny set of (500) Days of Summer lookalikes.When you dislike the characters, namely their actions, their motivations, and their personalities, it isn’t a good sign. Sometimes you can love a book despite the flaws of the characters – think AMERICAN PSYCHO – but this one isn’t the case. I just wanted to smack some sense into Ezra and tell him that Cassidy was no good for him, that the jerks from the tennis team were no good for him, that even some of his nerd friends just didn’t mesh with me.JOHN GREEN 2.0If you are a fan of John Green, you’re going to love this book. It’s perfect for fans of Green’s, and in fact can at times seem like it’s trying too hard to follow in those footsteps. With me not being a fan and all, I feel like I was automatically at a disadvantage for this one. I went in with lowered expectations and came out liking the book, but never loving it. I never truly connected. Then again, I was never an upper middle class male tennis star in high school. But that’s not an excuse, is it?VERDICT: Maybe I just didn’t get the appeal of this one, but THE BEGINNING OF EVERYTHING didn’t gel with me. It was too pretentious, too twee, too desperate to be John Green in a year without a John Green book. But it was still a good entry in the contemporary YA market. Just not great.