Title: As You Wish
Genre: YA Magical Realism
Release Date: January 2nd 2018 by Sourcebooks Fire
Format: Kindle ARC
Goodreads Synopsis: In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.
Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.
*I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts on all social media platforms are mine. No quotes will be used*
DNF @ 45%
This was a title I had randomly requested on NetGalley since the premise had sounded interesting. It took me basically three months to get to actually reading it and it shows. This wasn’t enjoyable for me. Here are a few reasons why this book didn’t work for me.
- Main Character: I had read many early reviews on Goodreads that many people didn’t like the main character Eldon. To me, he felt like the first draft of a main character. He never felt fleshed out enough to be interesting to read from. In the beginning, he’s cruel to his friends, disrespectful to his parents and a downright douche bag to his friends. Yeah he didn’t have a great home life, people keep pressuring him about his wish and he feels bad about what happened to his sister. But I never understand why people write characters who are so rude only because their hurting and there’s nothing else to them. When he did have a couple moments of clarity about the impact he wish might have, but after that, it was like he immediately changed to being more nice. He was on both extremes enough that he wasn’t a good character to read about.
- Portrayal of Female Characters: I was surprised at how the females were portrayed in this book. All the girls except for one girl Norie, all of the girls at the high school were either dumb, rude, only wanting to be attractive/find love or shallow. Norie, a religious girl who gets to know Eldon, was the only normal sounding person. While she is religious, she still stands up to Eldon and lets him know that she cares. She’s vulnerable, honest and felt like an actual person. I couldn’t understand why EVERY girl but her only wished to look like a supermodel, partied and vain. We all have different facets to our personalities and I just didn’t like most of the females didn’t need those possibly harmful stereotypes attached to them.
- Small Town Authenticity: Madison is a small town in the middle of nowhere where you get your wish granted. The story keeps telling you that this is a small town, and while a couple details do show that, I feel like enough details were missing that I didn’t believe that this town was really small. You don’t know how many people go to the high school, the population numbers, etc. The only detail you get that the town is small is all the skeleton houses that never finished building. I never felt like the place was a really small town except for older technology and the skeleton houses. It sounds like when everyone goes to the hot springs to hand out, the town is bigger than the author states.
- Predictable Ending: So once I read the 30% mark, I was getting really bored with the story. So I skipped to the end to see what wish Eldon would do. I had a prediction of what he would do and once it happened, I was not surprised at all. Eldon never understands how much his wish could impact others, so he becomes bitter for everyone else and his action basically “plays God” like many people have said. I feel like he had a couple things he could wish for that would’ve helped him be more redeemable in the eyes of the reader, but for me, he never changes. The magical realism aspect didn’t even matter by the end anyway.
- Page Count: According to Goodreads, this book will be about 432 pages. For this kind of story with a very slow pace, I feel like this is a book that many people will be bored with. Almost every chapter is Eldon’s everyday angsty and rude attitude up until he makes his wish. There are small interlude chapters where you get the “wish history” of a couple characters in between the story. But I don’t get how this book is over 400 pages; I can see it being in the 300 page range to be more fast paced and less full of filler detail. I feel like the wish histories could either be removed completely, or added more to add more layers to the story. But you only get Eldon’s pessimism about the wishes, negative attitude and ultimately confused decision. If it was written from multiple points of view and was shorter, I think it would be more impactful.
Overall: I didn’t want to DNF this ARC, but I came to a point where I was bored and didn’t feel impressed. If the book does sound interesting to you, go pick it up but be aware that the female stereotypes could be offensive to some, as well as the long length and somewhat mixed messages. I give this no rating since I marked it as DNF.
Have you read this yet? Are you excited for it? Is your opinion different than mine?