Was this a YA?
I have nothing against YA books, in fact I have read quite a few even when I was way past my YA years. But for some reason, as I finished the book- devoured it in a couple of days, that question popped in my head and I felt me a bit…disappointed. I don’t know if it was because 2016 ended with The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson, a book that took Davidson seven years of research to write. And though The Gargoyle is filled with lots of details on history, health and religion, the prose is dynamic and exciting, making it difficult to put the book down.
I think what I was expecting with All the Ugly and Wonderful Things was something more. More writing. More details. Getting deeper into the characters, even the secondary ones. True, the book is told from various points of view and Greenwood writing made each POV true to the character most of the time, but a little something, something more about those secondary characters would have linked everything together better.
Because Greenwood has some pretty hot topics in her book. First, we have the whole drug dealing family which per se, is interesting enough and having seen it mostly in movies, I wanted to know more. Not just the superficial “living in a family dealing drugs” but how the whole system works. And Greenwood “is a fourth-generation Kansan and the daughter of a mostly reformed drug dealer” she could have given us much more.
Then there is the romance part. That’s where most discussions and opinions clash; the love between the grown-up tattooed ex-con Kellen, and the little (underage) girl Wavy.
I didn’t find it overly ‘romantic’ and I didn’t find it going too much on the ‘child abuse’ stop sign, I think Greenwood was very smart in keeping it in the middle and by doing this, she made the readers think and feel. It is unusual, with unusual characters set in an unusual environment. Whether the choices both characters made were the right ones or not,is difficult to say. We know much about Wavy, her childhood and her family situation, much less about Kellen. We are given few lines that describe his character, hints of his past, but not really much to say whether Kellen, the grown up, should have said something and stopped the ‘relationship’ from happening or going too far.
Romantics, will enjoyed it as what’s more to want than a happy ending? Still, it won’t be a book with just a happy ending but one that will make you think and that is what reading and books are all about.