EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL IS NOT RUINED: A Book Review

Is it still considered a plot twist when you called it from the start?

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I really liked Everything Beautiful is Not Ruined by Danielle Younge-Ullman and it really had a lot of great things going for it. First off, it’s Canadian and it’s not a prairie book (although I love those too). Second, it has very interesting characters: strange and wonderful and entirely whole. Third, it’s about camping and roughing it. Fourth, it features two alternating timelines, which is one of my favourite storytelling modes. So as you can see, it has a lot of really fantastic things going for it. So why didn’t I love it?

The writing is about what you’d expect from a light young adult novel. It’s not something to sing about (haha, I made a funny, because the book itself is about Margot-Sophia’s and Ingrid’s singing) but it’s not bad writing either. It’s smack dab in the middle: nice and easy to read and get lost in. I don’t think there were any eye-rolling worthy moments, except maybe during the sex scene (if I can even call it that) but the protagonist is a 16 year old girl, so it’s fitting, I guess. But still slightly ridiculous.

The main thing I didn’t like about this book was that it felt way too short. It’s essentially two different novels shoved into one, and it works to tell Ingrid’s story. The problem is, you don’t get to hear the story of anyone else. I mean, there are so wildly interesting characters at this wilderness retreat, including a girl who was part of a cult and an ex-con. I feel like these characters fall extremely flat and become nothing more than a name with a vague description which sucks. They become stereotypes when they could have been dynamic characters that help Ingrid on her journey. I get that this is Ingrid’s story, but I can’t help but feel that if we got to know these side characters better, then maybe we could understand Ingrid a bit more, and maybe she would realize things about herself too.

I would also like to learn a lot more about Isaac, the main love interest. While I did find him charming and sweet, for the most part, I feel like his story is very important too, and shouldn’t have been brushed over in a page like it was. There was so much to explore with him but hey, I guess that just goes to show that there’s so much more Ingrid has to learn about the world around her.

All in all, I found this book to be an interesting and easy read, and I quite enjoyed it. It’s not an epic, but it is a great slice-of-life story and Ingrid is such a lovely character to fall into. I hope wherever Ingrid is, she’s happy and doing well.

3.5 mosquitoes out of 5.

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