Thursday, March 19, 2015

review: crazy love you by lisa unger

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When Ian was young, his mentally ill mother killed his baby sister and tried to kill him. If the stigma of an institutionalized mother wasn't enough for a kid growing up in The Hollows (the fictional town where Lisa Unger sets many books), Ian is also overweight and considered a nerd. Ian does have a friend though--a mysterious girl named Priss, who gets him into trouble partially because no one else believes she's real.

Crazy Love You begins with Ian having made quite the career for himself as a graphic novelist living in New York City. His work is a fictionalized version of his life with Priss. He's popular and things are going generally well (though he probably does too many drugs and drinks too much) when he meets Megan. Soon they are in love, Priss is jealous, and Ian's life is spiraling down.

Unger does an amazing job creating a world in which it's impossible to tell if something supernatural is occurring or if Ian is suffering a break with reality. Just as it seems apparent which one is true, there's a new nugget of information that raises the question again. It makes Crazy Love You a very suspenseful read. The novel flows well with the present day story intertwined with selections from Ian's childhood and his Fatboy and Priss series. Furthermore, with Ian as a graphic novel writer, Unger was able to explore various "the end" options (like, he woke up in a mental hospital) and discard them with criticism. In doing so, Unger makes the reader feel the need to keep working through the mystery aspect and be more invested in the outcome.
Review copy provided by the publisher, Touchstone.

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