Title: The Chaos of Standing Still
Author: Jessica Brody
Genre/Themes: Young Adult, Contemporary, Grief
Blurb from Goodreads
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 brilliantly 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.
Some YA books really make me feel jaded about the YA genre. This was one such book.
And that is because every single character in this book was simply a stereotype. There was little to no effort given to creating multifaceted characters whose motivations and feelings could be felt by me as a reader. And this was not due to the first person perspective of the novel, it was simply due to lazy and ineffectual writing that just used jaded tropes and melodrama to move forward the plot.
Thusly what the book treated us to was a painfully toxic friendship between the deceased girl Lottie and her best friend Ryn which made it seem like Ryn was better off that Lottie was dead due to Lottie’s aggressively pushy and controlling nature.
Instead the book should have tried to give us a fuller picture of Lottie’s personality so we could actually understand and properly empathise with how her tragic death affected Ryn so deeply. Rather than just feel relief that this heinous person was dead and have the book make me as a reader question whether or not Ryn just somehow was tricked into thinking that their friendship was based on caring emotions.
This is touted as a novel about grief and not someone recovering from a toxic and controlling friendship. So to me the author really failed when using the flashback sequences to illustrate the warmth of this friendship because warmth was certainly not the message I got.
There was also an incredibly underdeveloped back story for the main love interest Xander regarding his parents and where exactly they prioritised their son in life. It felt as if the author only included this limited backstory so that Xander and Ryn would have *issues* to bond over.
Xander was also involved in an incredibly problematic storyline undermining Ryn’s agency when it came to how she was choosing to cope with her grief and his rash, self-motivated actions were merely glossed over with no negative repercussions or accountability for such.
But instead Xander was rewarded for manipulating and forcing the MC into a certain course of actions by having that same MC make out with him because *cuteness*….
I legit can’t… Felt like gas-lighting to me.
Then there was a child prodigy with an alleged physics degree that didn’t sound authentic but more like a young kid just enthusiastic about physics…
There are more physics theorems and experiments outside of the laws of thermodynamics and Schrödinger’s cat. Please do better research.
Sincerely, a science grad.
Also this child prodigy is 13 years old. So why was he pushed to make out with a female character who was 18+ at a New Year’s Eve party?!?!?!?!?!?!
I remember reading it and being what now???
A thirteen year old boy and an adult woman making out because he was forced into the situation by another adult female!!!!
That’s child molestation.
Not a great New Year’s Eve party.
I really have no clue how that was put into the book? I do not care that he is *mature for his age*. He is still thirteen and cannot give consent, therefore that is sexual abuse of a minor.
And yes, you can argue that this happens in the real world and perhaps the author was trying to add some gritty realness to the book… But when the aim of the scene is merely to provide pointless drama in some sort of lighthearted fashion and that it is written as if the boy should be delighted that “he is being made a man” then I just can’t stand idly by and say nothing.
This scene had no genuine purpose in the novel and for that reason I label this book as incredibly problematic.
I was incredibly frustrated by so many aspects of this book:
- Painfully underdeveloped characters that were merely stereotypes or pastiches rather than authentic feeling personalities.
- Ill thought out scenes that just became problematic due to their singularly salacious function.
- A promotion of controlling behaviour as romantic.
- And a tedious and prosaic writing style.
Avoid at all costs