Published by Algonquin Young Readers; September 3, 2013
Paperback, 239 pages
Received from publisher through NetGalley -- thanks!
Chemo, radiation, a zillion surgeries, watching my mom age twenty years in twenty months: if that’s part of the Big Dude’s plan, then it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? Somebody Up There Hates You.
SUTHY has landed me here in this hospice, where we—that’s me and Sylvie—are the only people under 30 in the whole place, sweartogod. But I’m not dead yet. I still need to keep things interesting. Sylvie, too. I mean, we’re kids, hospice-hostages or not. We freak out visitors; I get my uncle to sneak me out for one insane Halloween night. Stuff like that. And Sylvie wants to make things even more interesting. That girl’s got big plans.
Only Sylvie’s father is so nuclear-blasted by what’s happened to his little girl, he glows orange, I swear. That’s one scary man, and he’s not real fond of me. So we got a major family feud going on, right here in hospice. DO NOT CROSS line running down the middle of the hall, me on one side, her on the other. It’s crazy.
In the middle of all of this, really, there’s just me and Sylvie, a guy and a girl. And we want to live, in our way, by our own rules, in whatever time we’ve got. We will pack in some living before we go, trust me.
- Description from Goodreads.com
I did not like this book. From that first chapter with it's excessive use of anyway, okay, and so as transitions, I knew this book would not be my friend.
Let's start with the basics: the story. Somebody Up There Hates You centers around a boy named Richie who has been diagnosed with cancer with less than thirty days to live. And since Richie is fully aware of the fact that his death is near, he plans to give life everything he's got. Which of course, includes his virginity.
Now the thing about this book is that it has such potential to explore important topics such as death and illness. Important topics that I think we need more of in young adult. But instead, it brings this completely RIDICULOUS plot that I have to say is unfortunately shallow. Why? Because the main character is dying from cancer yet the entire book depicts him as a stupid horny teenager.
Wait, I know you're confused. What is going on right? Never fear, my dear friends. I will recount the story from the very beginning.
So far, we've established that Richie is a cancer patient and he's dying. Okay, so the next thing you need to know is that he's in the hospice and on the day his story starts, his uncle Phil comes and visits him. Phil is crazy, the 'black sheep' of the family. And somehow, he convinces the nurse on duty that she should let Richie get out of the hospice for Halloween and they somehow don't get questioned by anyone else as they leave.
Phil and Richie eventually end up at a bar which proves how crazy he is because why would you bring a dying teenager to a bar of all places? And then leave him unattended with some busty Marie Antoinette?
That's Uncle Phil for you.
But even weirder is what happens next. Marie Antoinette wheels him to some private corner and unzips his pants to give him a hand job.
Who DOES that? To a sick person no less.
And then funny because once she does find out Richie is sick, she runs away. Is this girl blind? I'm being very blunt here (sorry!) but when someone's dying of cancer, there are physical signs as the author describes in the beginning! So how come Marie Antoinette doesn't see that he has no eyebrows and eyelashes, skinnier than the average teen, and just overall, sickly looking? That just makes absolutely no sense to me whatsoever.
But anyway, Phil eventually returns Richie back to the hospice and when Richie steps into his room, he finds the only other teenager in the hospice and his true love though I'm not sure how that happened, Sylvie. She's shrouded in darkness and everything's mysteriously sexy and she leans in to him and says,
"I don't want to be a virgin anymore."
Which basically implies that she wants to have sex with him. Naturally, Richie gets excited and they start attempting to do it right away. Attempt is the key word here because it takes a few times before they really go all the way.
One of more memorable times is when Richie and Sylvie are in a smoking box and everything's getting hot and steamy when Richie's grandmother pops up. Where did that come from, right? She sees them though and is all nonchalant about it and even proceeds to concoct a master plan so they can have sex.
I don't know about you but I'm thinking that it's not such a great idea that two dying cancer patients (I just have to keep mentioning this because none of this book makes sense) have sex.
I'm also thinking that the characters in this book don't know it because it seems like they let this happen in front of their very noses. Literally because as Richie says in the beginning, the doors are clear so there is no privacy at all. If patients were having sex, don't you think someone would notice through the clear doors even at night?
The answer to that is no because Richie and Sylvie have sex. And everything is bliss.
Until the next morning when Richie finds out that Sylvie has been knocked unconscious by their midnight hookup due to massive blood loss. I can't say I'm surprised that something bad happened.
From here, things just go downhill. Richie gets targeted in the hallway by Sylvie's dad. He's upset at Richie for causing his daughter to be in this unstable state and reasonably so. The guy's already been through a lot and now to find out that his daughter is in even worse condition because of some guy who screwed her must be devastating. Richie doesn't seem to understand this at all.
Having said that though, I do not accept the way Sylvie's dad reacted to the situation at all. It was repulsive. He actually reached over and punched Richie right there and then causing HIM to blackout and fall into his own unconsciousness.
This, of course, is illegal and wrong whether the victim has cancer or not so a lot of legal problems arise and some other confusing sub-storylines. In the end, I think you will be glad to know that Sylvie and Richie are still alive and strong.
And everything I've said so far is exactly why this book didn't do it for me.
When the word cancer is mentioned in a book, I get intrigued because I love reading books centering around serious issues. But there have been many times when I have been seriously let-down by these issues books. Because in reality, there is very little 'issue' present. Like this book. Majority of the time I forgot that Richie and Sylvie were suffering from cancer because very little actually centered around cancer.
Instead, the book was filled with convoluted chapters with events that are either
(a) too convenient to be believable
(b) completely ridiculous.
The one silver lining is that Hollis Seamon knows how to write a good teen narrator. Everything that came out of Richie's mouth could have easily been seen coming out of my mouth or one of my peers'. I liked how it was written very conversational. Like Richie was sitting in front of me and we were good ole buddies reminiscing on our wild days.
But apart from that? I think it's pretty clear that this book wasn't for me. Unfortunately.