Review: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. Not your fluffy and cute YA romance

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Teenager tv shows are not what they used to be. I grew up during the 90's and yes, leaving aside Baywatch and the slow-mo runs along the beach, the shows were pretty darn good. I just remember being a pre-teen watching shows like Dawson Creek and thinking "I want that. And I want to be an adult really bad". Those characters had great aspirations, dreams of making it to college, endless conversations about literature and culture. I would listen to the dialogs and just stare in awe. Those were characters that made me want to grow up to be smart and independent. There's obviously the drama and the relationships (that I would thoroughly enjoy), but still. Then, 2000 arrived with the glorious Gilmore Girls. And talking about smart and funny dialogs: I believe this is the way tv shows are supposed to be. Gilmore Girls reminds me of something else I had always loved: the pop culture references. I don't live in the US, you know, but basically all I watch and read comes from there. That's the way it is and I am not complaining, but I have always envied getting the references. The funny puns. The bits where some celebrity, famous writer, politician or band is mentioned to make a joke. Unfortunately, I would never get them and that was something that would bug me. It has now, to be honest. I will never get over it, really.

But does she has a point? Wasn't she going to review a book here? Yes, we are right there now, I just needed to put that out there for you.

My point is that this book has reminded me of all that. All those hours I spent in front of the tv wishing for a group of friends with smart but snarky banter that throw a hundred pop culture references that I get. And it was so not what I was expecting.

I expected a cute YA with a fluffy romance, and boy, Our Chemical Hearts had nothing to do with that. It's cute at times and it's about first love, but this book is about much more important things: loss and heart break. And ultimately overcoming that loss and that broken heart.

Genre: Young Adult, contemporary 

“Love doesn't need to last a lifetime for it to be real. You can't judge the quality of a love by the length of time it lasts. Everything dies, love included. Sometimes it dies with a person, sometimes it dies on its own. The greatest love story ever told doesn't have to be about two people who spent their whole lives together. It might be about a love that lasted two weeks or two months or two years, but burned brighter and hotter and more brilliantly than any other love before or after. Don't mourn a failed love; there is no such thing. All love is equal in the brain.”

Undeniably, it was a pleasant surprise. I really enjoyed this book, and even if it was unexpected I found myself a 100% invested in the story. Our Chemical Hearts was not perfect, but I certainly think it is a book worth reading. Despite its flaws, this book is thought provoking. The author tackles very different issues: first love and grieve. I will not give away many details, but I just want to highlight how different on so many levels those issues seem, but how common they really are. All teenagers experience first love, and this book puts it out there through Henry. Yes, this book is told from a male main character pov, which let me tell you, was refreshingly good for a change. Henry is obviously special, in many ways, but I loved the fact that he had no clue about love. Or life, really. He is just thrown into this mess that is falling in love for the first time without any experience. He is clueless and he basically has no idea how to deal with the situation. And that, my friends, it's refreshing and adorable.

Grace, on the other hand, is the mess herself. If Henry is clueless, Grace was hands down lost. For reasons I will not reveal to keep the review spoiler-free, she is the best and the worst thing that could happen to Henry. First love is hard itself, but Grace is troubled. She has a lot to overcome, and that only adds to the problem - please note, I am talking about love using the words problem and issue. How unromantic of me. So, all things considered, the relationship between Henry and Grace swings back and forth from very bad to very good in the spam of hours.

Now, going my back to the pop culture references and the smart dialogs: the banter between both main characters was the best. I love the job the author has done with the dialogs. These characters are smart and not ashamed of showing it. Being inside Henry's mind was delightful, a fest for my nostalgia, basically. Because it reminded me of everything I have missed in YA. In all seriousness, the book was still naturally funny and smart. And the pop culture references!! I GOT THEM ALL. It filled me with joy when movies like 10 Things I hate about you or Harry Potter were mentioned. And there were so many more: The Strokes, Pixar movies, the Kardashians, Titanic or a hipster beer festival. A hipster beer festival, you guys! I basically live in them. Anyway, all these pop culture references made me a very happy reader and I loved the fact that they were just there.

Moving to not so positive things, and reason number 1 why this book is not getting a perfect 5 stars rating: Grace. Ah... poor and broken Grace. Are you familiar with Manic Pixie Dream Girls or MPDG? Well, let's say Grace is one of them, but at the same time, she really isn't. Grace is like an anti-MPDG. As I previously said, I don't want to reveal too much, but even if I understood Grace, I didn't really like her. She had a lot to overcome, and trust me, when I say a lot I mean a lot. Too much for a teenager. However, I did not approve of the way he treated Henry. The way she uses him, even he allows her to do so. Even he actually wants to be used because he is in love with her. Nonetheless, this ended up giving the book a certain originality against the rest of YA love stories I have read. Some situations and scenes were rather too sad and kind of dark. Regardless, the intensity of what was happening was thought provoking, and I loved that.

All in all, yes, Our Chemical hearts is about first love, but not really. Not only that. It felt more transcendental.

Rating: 4/5

*I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*


22 comments on "Review: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. Not your fluffy and cute YA romance"
  1. Ooh I really want to read this one! It's actually on my TBR, especially because it's by an Aussie author!

    xx Anisha (https://sprinkledpages.blogspot.com.au/)

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    1. Thank you for passing by, Anisha :)

      I think it's a good book, very different from the classic YA romance and actually quite different from all the YA I've been reading lately. Again, it's not perfect but I think it's worth giving it a try. Happy reading and I hope you love it!

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  2. 10 Things I Hate about you is awesome movie :)
    I wasn't so sure if I will read this book,but after reading this review,added to GR :D
    Thank you for the lovely review,enjoyed reading :)

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    1. It is such a good movie! :)

      Thank you for reading the review and thank you for your words. It really means a lot when someone adds a book to their tbr because of something I say <3 I seriously hope you love it! Happy reading, lovely.

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  3. Wow! I've seen the book in pictures before, but I didn't really know what is was about! That quote?!! It sounds so good! And the characters sound so interesting!And it's hard writing about teenagers and making them look realistic! I will definitely add this on my TBR!

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    1. I am very happy my review has something to do with your decision to read this book :D I seriously love that and I hope you enjoy it! I think it was thought provoking and quite different to the typical YA, yet being a YA love story at the same time.

      Thank you for passing by Antonia :)

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  4. Hey! I really enjoyed your review! Being from Spain, I totally get what you said about not getting all of the US pop culture references... So I might give this a try, since you said it's good in that way!

    But the Manic Pixie DreamGirl thing... Jeez. That's the one thing that makes me think I might not like the book. Can you elaborate on Grace's character? If you want, instead of answering here, you can dm me at mayaheartsbooks on insta?

    Oh BTW I love the style you use to write reviews!

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    1. Hola Maya :)

      I'll be thrilled to discuss Grace's character with you, I just followed you on insta so we can chat about it :) As for anyone reading your comment and having the same doubts regarding her character: when I say Grace is more of a anti-MPDG, I mean it in the same way the anti-hero character is usually portrayed. Grace has nothing to do with the typical MPDG, and yet her effect in Henry is the same.

      Talk to you soon, Maya :) Thank you for your comment and for passing by (and thank you, I love that you enjoyed my review :) )

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  5. I hadn't heard of this book before I found your post on Instagram. BUT OH MY GOSH I REALLY NEED TO READ IT NOW. Amazing review. It's made me super excited ��

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    1. I hope you love it! It has a lot of strong points :) Even if I wouldn't rate it as perfect, I still think it's worth reading it.

      Thank you for your comment, Emily :) and happy reading!

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  6. Sounds like a wonderful read! I'm adding it to my TBR now. I've seen this book floating around the book community, but definitely going to give it a go now.

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    1. Happy reading! I hope you love it :)

      Thank you for passing by, Isabella!

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  7. Holly crap! This review just confirmed that I really want to read this book. And this quote hisldbellsozkq. Plus soul sister wrote this review sooooo it's for sure a great book that I need to read ♡

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    1. Ahhh soul sister, I am very happy to see you here. And ah well, I might have squealed a tiny bit when I read your comment <3
      I hope you love the book and I require a full report on thoughts as soon as you finish it :)

      Happy reading babe!

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  8. id really need a read like this, it sounds like a book thatd be lovely to reflect on. also, great review! it really gave me a great picture of the book (:

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    1. Thank you :) I am so happy to read your comment, means a lot to hear someone saying something like that, ah! <3
      Happy reading, and I hope you love the book!

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  9. great review. i'll check this book. by reading your review, i think i can say that this book is sooo my cup of tea

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    1. Hi Ginny :) Happy to hear that! I really hope you enjoy the read and you end up loving the story. As I say, it was not absolutely perfect, but I still think it's a book worth reading :)

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  10. Reading your review makes what to read this book. Too bad I can't find it in my local bookstore �� I want books with those things in it.�� -rose.books (I can't seem to use my wordpress account to comment here :( )

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    1. Oh no :( I hope your bookstore stocks this book soon enough so you can read it :) Thank you for your comment and I hope you love it as soon as you get to it!

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  11. Wow this one sounds so interesting! I need the book! Thank you for your review, now I'm really curious ^^
    Bookishly yours
    Paula (polysemy3)

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  12. Great review! I wasn't really in a hurry to read this before but now I am!

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