Saturday, April 30, 2016

Unforgivable by Amy Reed | Rating: ★★★★☆ (4.5)

As a note, an e-galley of this novel was sent to me via Edelweiss by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way.

In the highly anticipated sequel to one of my favorite reads last year, Invincible, Unforgivable paints a much darker image on the lives of Evie and Marcus and their all-consuming love for one another. Amy Reed should be highly praised for her proper portrayal of the complexities of human emotions and the fact that her teenagers feel–and act–like teenagers who are struggling.

That was one of the best things about Invincible, it felt real and as painful as one could expect. We knew instantly at the end of the previous novel that we would be left in a hurricane of heartbreak and changes and Unforgivable picks right up on that tone. Unforgivable is fast and beautiful and a world of cloudy memories and painful realizations.

Its biggest theme? Moving on. Letting go. And how difficult it can be to do so. You see, letting go of loved ones is all well and good in theory, but it takes some time to resonate with our decision. Reed’s prose brings to life this sort of feeling and will tug on your heartstrings until the very final pages.


She reminds us that, in order to move on, we have to make peace with ourselves, our demons and the past. In order to move forward, we cannot continue taking steps backward.

Readers will enjoy seeing Marcus’ point of view this time around and it is easy to find him sympathetic. Evie and Marcus both have incredibly raw and unique voices and backstories that you can’t help but to love them just as much as you want to shake or protect them. I liked that we swapped narrators because this is Marcus and this is his story and while Evie’s heavily involved in it, it’s still all him.

We know Evie’s story. Her struggles. We get a bit of closure on that, too, and an ending that is open to interpretation. I liked how intimate it felt getting to know Marcus and while I wish we could have directly seen more of Evie’s recovery and all that jazz, I appreciated it for what it was and how it unfolded.

Because Marcus is the narrator this time there’s an obvious shift in the prose and it’s a good one. It kept things fresh and Reed’s writing is entirely to thank for that one. Again, I can’t stress how much of a gift and surprise her words have meant to me but there’s just this spark there.

You won’t feel it’s fiction.

That being said, Marcus has a history all his own that is a big contrast to Evie’s. I liked seeing it explored and seeing him pour his heart out for us. It’s heartbreaking. There’s a rush to it that isn’t unlike the world as it passes us by.

We see more of his family and how complex things are in his home life. It’s easy to see why he fell in love with that version of Evie–it compares to a lot of things and it’s just painful to hear his past. I should warn you, readers, that there’s a lot more references to depression and self harm in this one than there was in Invincible.

Marcus struggles with a lot of things: his life with Evie, his life before Evie, his memories of happier and worse times with his mother, his brother and father. He struggles coming to terms with his future, his past, his presence–all of it is catching up to him and it’s such a raw thing to see.

What I love most about Marcus is that like Evie, there are a lot of pieces of their personalities that change through time. They connect with each other like a well made puzzle and just as quickly can they fall apart. I felt Marcus’ pain at not being able to see Evie, I felt his joy when he could see her and it’s impossible to not feel anything for either character.

Overall, Unforgivable is one of the best young adult novels you can read this year. Think Lurlene McDaniel meets Gayle Foreman meets Ellen Hopkins meets John Green–there’s something undeniable about these books and these characters and it’s so easy to make parallels between this work of fiction and the real world.

And Marcus and Evie are two characters that find each other somewhere in the middle and their flaws, their love, their ups and their downs, make their thoughts and story beautiful. Two of the best characters in modern young adult literature by far and an absolute must-read! 

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