Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.
Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.
Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.
I've heard so many people talk about this book, and I decided to dive into it without knowing a single thing about it, and I loved it. I don't know how well I can even explain my love for this book, but I shall try.
The characters: I loved both of these characters. The story was told in a dual perspective Nastya and Josh. They are both very different people with very different experiences, yet they both have issues that they are dealing with. Josh has lost everyone he has ever loved, so he struggles to make relationships with people. Nastya has gone through something terrible and hasn't spoken a word in over a year. These two characters, while their circumstances and their relationship seems unlikely in real life (but not that unusual in fiction), were so realistic. They weren't perfect by any means, they were real people and because of that, it made it so easy to connect with them.
I found the plot to be so interesting. it was similar to another book I had read but it was so much better with the way it dealt with that. This book, while prone to some of the more popular book tropes in YA, was so unique and beautifully written. It was very fast paced and captivating that I didn't want to stop.
But my favourite part about this whole book, was that the romantic relationship, was so well paced!! This was no "love at first sight" type of romance. Their relationship was built on trust, and it developed over time. Seriously, I applaud Millay on this because it seems to me that I haven't read a book where the two main characters don't fall completely in love and go through what seems like an endless amount of events within the span of 2 or 3 weeks, in a very long time. This just made the romance, that much more realistic and made me love the characters even more.
Honestly, the key word for this book is realistic, because that's what it is. It''s not a fairy tale, it's not a happy little love story where everything just falls into place. These characters actually develop and change and work through their struggles like normal people would. Of course not every aspect of this book is very realistic, but it is a fiction book and these sorts of unrealistic plot points are needed in order to keep the reader interested. Which mind you, I was completely interested and invested in this story. If I didn't have work or other commitments, I would have knocked this out in one sitting for sure. I also want to mention that the ending of this book, was fantastic. I loved how it didn't just wrap everything up with a HEA, and I loved how it didn't end where everything was fine again. I've said it before and I'll say it again. It made the book SO REALISTIC.
My only issue with the story was revealing of a major plot point. I felt like this twist (if you could even call it that), had such a big build up that when it was revealed, it didn't feel like a revelation at all. This is in most parts because I knew right when I started the book, and I find it difficult to believe that other's who read this book, didn't know as well. Throughout the story, there are little snippets from Nastya's diary entries, and from that you know something has happened, but for me I thought because they were pretty much spelling it out for you, that it must be even bigger. So when it was revealed to be what I thought it was originally, I was somewhat let down. Having said that, I think considering everything that happened, this book did a fantastic job of portraying the raw emotion and actions of not only the main character, but of family members and friends.
Other than that, if you want a really good YA contemporary which deals with some tough themes in a very realistic manner, read this book. I cannot recommend this enough and I cannot imagine there would be anybody who wouldn't like this book. I'd say it's nearly impossible (but I'm sure there'd have to be at least one person)
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