Sunday, August 2, 2015

Something I rarely do about a book I've just read.

So, y'know how TRoRS has a genderless narrator, dubbed 'N', for 'Nameless' by a writing buddy who waded through the first-draft ugliness (you deserve several medals, Alcar).

Well, frequently when I've talked with other YA writers about TRoRS, they've asked me a variation of the same question/statement:

"Oh, you mean like David Levithan's book, 'Every Day', right?"

And every time, I've answered, "no." The first time I'd even heard of it was after that writing buddy (who dubbed my MC 'N') read my first draft and told me about the existence of 'Every Day'.

No, it was not an influence/inspiration. I could write another novel (well, maybe a novella) about the true inspirations, but I'm not going to. 90% of the point of TRoRS was to let the reader take control and make the 'world off the page' their own. N being genderless wasn't the point of the story, it was simply a vehicle to add freedom to the reader's experience.

Yes, I certainly like the idea of someone reading TRoRS twice and switching N's gender the second time, but that's a whole other conversation in itself, and not important for this particular post.

Because I kept getting asked about 'Every Day', I purposefully put off reading it because I didn't want to go into edits (of my own story) with this idea of comparison hanging over my brain.

So, today I read 'Every Day' and the companion story, 'Six Days Earlier'*.

And I'm glad I finally read it because it is absolutely nothing like TRoRS, so part of my 'gladness' is that it puts to rest any sense of fear that I was somehow writing a version of something already out there, which is silly, I know that. But fear isn't logical.

And even though I'm talking about a book I just read, I'm still not going to talk about whether I liked it or not.

I think the biggest thing I took away from 'Every Day' (other than letting go of that irrational fear) is that it made me think a lot about writing.

The notion of waking up every day in a new body, knowing/understanding some things, but having to make up the rest, pretend to be someone else in an unfamiliar skin, to me, this was probably the best description I could ever think of to explain what it feels like to be a writer.

As I followed A's journey, A's experiences in every new body, those A connected with and those that A wanted to escape, even a second sooner, that's often how I think about characters, stories, etc.

There are characters/stories that flash through my head and I don't want to stay in them, with them. I don't want their history, future, or even anything more than a couple moments of their present.

And there are those that deeply connect and make me want to wake up with them every morning and fall asleep with them every night. I want the complicated mess rather than a shallow encounter.

And I suppose it's the same way with reading other books. Some fit right away and I fall into the world, and some itch and scratch and keep reminding me that this isn't right, that it's not for me.

So yes, I'm glad I finally read it, for many reasons.

Has anyone else read 'Every Day'? Any thoughts on it? Or any other book that really made you think, or changed your opinion on something?

*One thing I found interesting about 'Six Days Earlier' is that there's an author's note right at the beginning in which A is referred to as male.


  1. Hah. That was the one I did a review of because I disliked it so much. (I loved the idea, but felt the execution was horrible in many places.) It did leave me curious where a sequel would go, and willing to read that, but .... yeah.

    1. "Six Days Earlier" wasn't a sequel, it was an extremely short story of just 6 other random days in A's life... I just read your review, and I recommend you don't pick up "Six Days Earlier" as the days felt even more 'after-school-special-y' than the novel :)

      There is an actual sequel coming out later this year, the same story/time-period as "Every Day", but from the girl's perspective.

      Even though I am not going to talk about my own reading experience, I will say that I was disappointed that A had such a clearly 'male' voice in "Every Day", which was 'confirmed' by that author's note at the beginning of "Six Days Earlier". If A spends equal time in both genders, then A shouldn't have felt so mono-gendered (I think I just made up that word?)

      But I'm perfectly willing to admit my impression was probably coloured by the fact that I spend so much time on TRoRS to make N's voice gender-neutral.

    2. Yeah, A should have felt more agender. I got the 'feels male', but I figured that was as a guy reading the character more than anything else.

      And, huh. Interesting sequel idea, though not what I expected. (Which is probably good.) I'm not sure how it from her POV would be all that different, offhand, but it could mitigate some of my stalker criticisms of it :)
      I almost never do reviews at all -- a lot of it was the that the premise had such potential and the story just didn't live up to that, at least not to me.


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