Saving Zoë by Alyson Noel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Okay, so I just finished SAVING ZOË by Alyson Noël, like literally…one minute ago. I’ve been thinking about the review I would write for this book a lot. Before I was even half-way through. There are several pros and cons to mention, and I’m still not really sure what rating I would give this book because I’m so torn between those pros and cons. But, as a story goes, Saving Zoë is pretty freaking amazing.
Alyson’s words bring Echo and Zoë to life, which is no small feat seeing as how one of them is already dead. Really. But Zoë’s diary entries bring her back to life so well that not only does Echo feel like she’s close to her sister in a way she never was before, but so does the reader. It’s like, I knew she was going to die, but I kept hoping somehow that it was all just a big mistake. That Zoë wasn’t really dead. So, I guess any story that can do that to the reader, that can pull you in so much that you hope for what you know will be impossible but still…any story that can accomplish such a feat must be pretty darn good.
So what’s my problem with this story? What did I think were cons when I’ve just raved about how awesome the story is? My first issue was just the tone of the narrator. I’ve read two of Alyson Noël’s other series (The Immortals and The Radiance series following the two Bloom sisters) and the narrators sound so similar, I had a really difficult time falling into the characters at first. For the Bloom sisters, it was understandable that they would sound similar. But Echo? Echo sounded so much like Ever and Riley that I found myself kind of angry at Alyson for not giving Echo her own voice. And that’s probably not really fair. It could just be Alyson’s writing voice. That’s how the story comes out of her and it is what it is and I can read it and love it or leave it and not come back for more. But I’ll come back. Because, while the voice may be too similar to other characters for my liking, the story telling is really well done.
This brings me to the next con…my biggest issue with this story. It’s a young adult book which means it’s supposed to be geared toward teenage readers. Again, the voice is definitely achieving that goal, but the content I think is meant for the older YA group. Much older. See, my tweenage daughter started reading this book first and had enough good sense to put it down when it got too heavy, but I’m kind of mad it even went there. The use of drugs and drinking and partying, and the talk about sex being so casual and common, it really upset me. Maybe that’s because I’m a mom now. Maybe that’s because, while I like to believe I’m still 18, I’m really not. I’ve lived that part of my life, made my mistakes, and (hopefully) have learned from them. It pains me to hear about or read about teens going through that crap. And it really makes me mad that the whole scene is glorified and lusted after by the protagonist in this book. I think it sends a really bad message to our girls and boys. Yeah, so in the end, things get semi-straightened out and it seems like the kids realize the dangers of drug abuse and promiscuity, but the message heard loudest and clearest is that it was fun for a time. So that is my biggest issue with Saving Zoë. Maybe I’m way off base getting so prickly about it, but I can’t put aside the fact that I am a mom now (granted maybe a little overly-protective) and always will be. It’s the only job title I’ll never be able to change.
Because of that issue, I can't give this book a 5 star, or even a 4 star. And I highly recommend only those ages 17+ read it. It really is a great story with some good lessons but only if your brain isn't still just impressionable mush.
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