Monday, January 23, 2017

Review: Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S King

Published October 12th 2010
Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

“I was also built from delusional optimism and folly.” 

Goodreads Synopsis

Vera’s spent her whole life secretly in love with her best friend, Charlie Kahn. And over the years she’s kept a lot of his secrets. Even after he betrayed her. Even after he ruined everything.

So when Charlie dies in dark circumstances, Vera knows a lot more than anyone—the kids at school, his family, even the police. But will she emerge to clear his name? Does she even want to?

Edgy and gripping, Please Ignore Vera Dietz is an unforgettable novel: smart, funny, dramatic, and always surprising.

My Review

“I knew not to give the best of myself to the worst of people.” 

You know those kind of books that build up a lot of momentum throughout? The books that begin with a crazy prologue and continue with an element of utter mystery and there are flashbacks and subsequent revelations as the mystery unravels? Sometimes you are able to predict what might happen, what the big secret is. But some books leave you with your mouths hanging open, eyes wide, almost breathless with the knowledge of the secret that has been divulged. 

Please Ignore Vera Dietz was one of the books with a lot of built up momentum, a lot of anticipation. There was something about the writing style that put me on edge and made me flick the pages faster, eager to get to the end. The book begins with a death and then deals with the events that led up to it and its aftermath. There were a lot of things I loved about the book. There was the fascinating character of Vera, who was so realistic in her troubles and her approach towards living life. She is tired of turning a blind eye to all atrocities going around her, like she has been taught to do so by her cautious parents. She's just a teenager harbouring some secrets of her own, trying to become invisible. I loved her little eccentricities, her love for her Dad and Charlie, her desire to do the right thing.

Her best friend Charlie was her complete opposite- wild, unrestrained, rebellious, excessively passionate, holding out a lot of suppressed anger. It was impossible to really like Charlie, not with everything he did. But it was possible to feel a little sympathy for him. He was just a kid in need of a little love, a little affection, some reassurances. Then there was Vera's Dad. Described as excessively cautious and parsimonious, you'd think that he'd be an unlikeable character. Instead, I liked him best. He is a loving and caring parent who is unsure as to how to raise a teenage daughter all by himself. He is plagued by demons of his own, the greatest of them being that his daughter might turn out to be an alcoholic due to the strong alcoholic genes that run in his family. He is unsure how to be happy or let go of the past. He is almost as vulnerable as his daughter. 

I loved, loved, loved Vera's Dad's flowcharts concerning life. Here's one of them:

It made me think- if only life was really as straightforward as these flow charts, things would be a helluva lot easier. 

The book deals with death, teenage angst, friendship and a lot of problems like domestic abuse, perversity etc in a great way. 

Then again, there were several things that I did not like. For instance, the character of the antagonist in the book was not very greatly shaped. The author tells us that indeed they are the devil's incarnate but gives no reason whatsoever as to why that is. There was no real reason or motive for whatever that happened. Also, the ending left a lot to be desired. All that build up, all that anticipation, amounted to almost nothing and the ending was superbly meh. A lot of things were left unexplained and it just seemed hastily put together. 

All in all, it was a slightly unsatisfactory although entertaining read. 

“She launched the airplane and it caught a current and circled down toward the town, like a promise of something good.” 

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