Thursday, May 31, 2012

All These Lives Blog Tour: Review

Sarah Wylie
Contemporary Young Adult
245 pages
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Available June 5th
Received from Books Complete Me for blog tour

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Sixteen-year-old Dani is convinced she has nine lives. As a child she twice walked away from situations where she should have died. But Dani’s twin, Jena, isn’t so lucky.  She has cancer and might not even be able to keep her one life. Dani’s father is in denial. Her mother is trying to hold it together and prove everything’s normal.  And Jena is wasting away.  To cope, Dani sets out to rid herself of all her extra lives.  Maybe they’ll be released into the universe and someone who wants to live more than she does will get one.  Someone like Jena.  But just when Dani finds herself at the breaking point, she’s faced with a startling realization.  Maybe she doesn’t have nine lives after all.  Maybe she really only ever had one.

All These Lives is one of those stories that presents us with a quick snapshot of a character’s life—no drawing us in with a beginning, complicating matters in the middle, and then dropping our jaws at the end, instead we arrive in the middle, spend some time, and leave still very much in the middle of the characters' timelines. Typically with this type of read emotional attachment is a bit shallower, our time with the protagonists so limited it's hard to feel as though we truly get to know them, finding ourselves at the very best able to sympathize with them before we reach the last page and are left to wonder what will come of them. Such is the case with All These Lives, our snippet of Dani’s life as she struggles to deal with her twin sister’s leukemia a quick and dark one, leaving us with heavy hearts as we watch one young woman self-destruct in an attempt to save another.

Dani is a tricky young heroine, springing from the story in the very first chapter with a rather blunt demeanor to slap us in the face and make us blink at our rather rocky introduction. While it’s clear she uses her attitude and her general disregard for the feelings of others as a coping mechanism for Jena's illness–feeling as though there’s no room in her for anything outside of the overwhelming guilt she feels for being the sister with lives to spare–her snide comments and standoffish personality prove to be armor we lack even the slightest ability to chink. Her misguided belief that she has nine lives (that if given up and released into the universe through death could find their way to someone like her sister who needs them) is challenging to read about, making us extremely uncomfortable and reinforcing Dani’s feelings of helplessness with regard to Jena by forcing us to acknowledge our own helplessness when it comes to saving Dani from herself.

All These Lives will likely appeal to those readers who enjoy realism without the pleasant safety of a sugar coating, where life is hard and at times brutal, and a miraculous happy ending, however desirable, isn’t necessarily a guarantee. Dani isn’t an easy protagonist on any level, and while we get tiny glimpses of vulnerability here and there, she fights us tooth and nail the entire way, making it crystal clear she would shove us from her life if she knew we were there just as roughly as she does those around her. As mentioned before, there’s no real beginning or end to this story, so we close the back cover without a definite future for Dani and Jena laid before us, but we do get some comfort in knowing Dani has learned from her nine-lives experiment and will perhaps start shedding some of that flawless armor moving forward.

Rating: 3.5/5


As part of the All These Lives blog tour, Sarah is generously offering up a fantastic prize pack including:

- 1 SIGNED copy of All These Lives
- 3 All These Lives bookmarks
- Your choice of ANY 3 Apocalypsies books!

To enter, hop over to Sarah's Blog and fill out the form. Giveaway will run through 11pm EST on June 8th after which a winner will be chosen. Good luck everyone!


  1. This sounds like a great story which important messages and questions. But, for these kind of books I need to be in the mood ... since they are often heavy. Plus- I'm a girl who needs a happy ending, no matter if it might be unrealistic...

  2. Ah I love books which don't sugar coat things and end up all wrapped up with a pretty little bow, I think this really sounds like my sort of book! :)

  3. YIKES! After my response to Mockingjay, it probably isn't in my best interest to read this one LOL I like happy endings--I can't help it!

  4. I have seen this book around, but haven't stopped to read up on it yet. It sounds like it would be an interesting read, that's for sure. I don't read these types of books very often, but I will definitely keep this in mind in the future. :)

  5. Danny - I'm a happy ending girl too, open endings usually aren't at all for me! This one was definitely heavy, more so than I expected.

    Jasprit - It definitely sounds like this one would work for you then!

    Felicia - hahahaha me too! I read to escape the realism, that's why I tend to stick to paranormal reads instead of contemporary. This was a haunting story and I liked that about it, it was just hard for me to take in places:)

    Christy - It was fun to break out of my paranormal box a bit, but I would have loved a little more resolution at the end:)

  6. I was planning on reading this one and I probably still will but no happy ending? I need at least some sort of a resolution! Dani certainly sounds interesting though! Thanks for the review, Jenny!

  7. This seems like the type of book I'd enjoy in a certain mood. I do like realism without sugarcoating, but if I'm not in the right mood, it just depresses me.

  8. Hmm this book sounds intriguing. I have this in my TBR pile but I never really understood the plot line. I'm glad you enjoyed it for the most part, Jenny. :) As always, another insightful and gorgeous review! :)

  9. Katie - I know. I was a little bummed that things cut off where they did, I'd hoped for just a little more info:)

    Juju - That's exactly it:)

    Alison - Yes, this is definitely a mood book. If you're in a happy, upbeat, yay-reading type of place, this one will be challenging I think.

    Bailey - It's an interesting concept, but it was really difficult to watch Dani slide so far downhill while trying to help Jena.

  10. This book is so raw! I loved it. her snide comments is what help her deal with the problem, and I admit I do the same thing too. It's not always funny, but...yeah. Loved the review. I can't wait to see what the author comes out with next.

  11. I have seen reviews for this one and it is a hit or miss. I like the idea that it is presented through the healthy twin's eyes. She is obviously on a self destructive bender and suffering from guilt. On the other hand, I am not in the mood for brutal realism without sugar coating. I also would be frustrated by the open ending, I think those are actually worse than cliff hangers. I appreciate what the author is saying, but I am going to pass on this one.

  12. Well life is hard so yes I can take the non existent sugar coating. Still I do love that sugar coating

  13. Savy - Raw is a good way to describe it! Her snide comments were a bit much for me at times even though I understood why she was the way she was, but still a solid read:)

    Heidi - I think Dani is a difficult character, she can be hard to like at times, and I don't like a character I have trouble getting into the story.

    Linda - Me too:)

  14. *blinks* For the first time ever, I don't know what to say. LOL

    Dani seems like the type of person that would beat me up if I looked at her funny. YIKES! But, I kind of like that she's challenging. Though I'm not sure what to make of that undefinable ending. :/

  15. Hmm, I have this one to read yet. Not as excited to read it. But, I know what to expect. Great review! I love how you let us know what to expect but don't give anything away. You're really amazing with some of the harder reviews!


  16. I saw another review for this one and it was along the same lines as yours. I'm not for sure its one I would enjoy or not... I think I will hold off.
    Thanks for the awesome review!

  17. Oh my goodness! Kind of scary/fascinating/thought-provoking/emotional! But in a good way, of course. Definitely going to give this a try....I like a novel that trips me out a bit and gives me something psychological to chew on.
    Great review!

    Sierra @ Yearning to Read

  18. "All These Lives will likely appeal to those readers who enjoy realism without the pleasant safety of a sugar coating, where life is hard and at times brutal, and a miraculous happy ending, however desirable, isn’t necessarily a guarantee." Lol, that's me! It's too bad though that it's hard to connect with the character. Books like All These Lives tend to have protagonists you can easily connect with and root for which is why I love reading them.

  19. Very matter of fact review, not sure besides the rating how you felt about it.
    I agree though she is very in your face, and now that I think about it, it does really drop us in the middle, but I was okay with that.
    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog

  20. This one definitely doesn't feel all soft and fuzzy at all. I think I'll save this one when I'm ready for a serious read. I'm not sure if I'm ready for a downer book at the moment. I'm trying to recover from a craptastic work week.