1 star · fiction · young adult

“Piper Perish” by Kayla Cagan was nowhere near as good as it could have been

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Piper Perish

author : kayla cagan

pages : 405

release date : (expected) february 28th 2017

favorite character : adams

summary :

Piper Perish inhales air and exhales art. The sooner she and her best friends can get out of Houston and into art school in New York City, the better. It’s been Piper’s dream her whole life, and now that senior year is halfway over, she’s never felt more ready. But in the final months before graduation, things are weird with her friends and stressful with three different guys, and Piper’s sister’s tyrannical mental state seems to thwart every attempt at happiness for the close-knit Perish family. Piper’s art just might be enough to get her out. But is she brave enough to seize that power, even if it means giving up what she’s always known? Debut author Kayla Cagan breathes new life into fiction in this ridiculously compelling, utterly authentic work featuring interior art from Rookie magazine illustrator Maria Ines Gul. Piper will have readers asking big questions along with her. What is love? What is friendship? What is family? What is home? And who is a person when she’s missing any one of these things?

review :

I really wanted to like this book. Not just because I’ve had a great record with loving YA novels published by Chronicle Books. Not just because I share a fantastic first name with the author. It sounded so interesting, like nothing I’d ever read before. Unfortunately, there were more frustrations in this novel than anything else, and it left me with nothing unique to hold onto. It’s the kind of book where the plot will grow fuzzy a few days from now.

Piper Perish is about just that: A girl named Piper Perish. She’s an artist, from Houston, in high school. I know this because the book is told in journal entries and in about every entry she complains about how limited Houston is compared to NYC. Actually, I feel like this was a very accurate representation of teenage ranting, but it didn’t translate well to real storytelling. The journal entries didn’t progress throughout the half year they detail so much as passionlessly chronicle Piper’s lives in a vividly failing attempt to capture teenage slang in the written form. There’s no indication of what year this is intended to take place within, so with the technology available in Piper’s world I assumed 2017 was a fair choice for setting. For teenagers so “cool” Piper constantly harps about how cool they are, their word choices are awfully . . . uncool, for lack of a better way to describe it. It was hard to read.

There was a big factor in the beginning of the novel that almost made me DNF it right away but I hung on, because I partially hoped it would right itself partway through the book and also thought I should give the rest of the plot a fair chance. A main character in the book reveals very early on that he has an interest in boys, while he has been dating a girl for a few years. Thus said girlfriend goes on a slightly insane spiral thinking that because she has short hair, she has accidentally convinced him that he likes men. Later that thinking shifts to how did everyone but me know that he was gay? 

I’m so incredibly tired of authors just ignoring the fact that, hey, it’s true: You can like GUYS AND GALS. Basically most of the book was her coming to terms with the fact that yes, he loved her, just not in that way. This is a horrible example for teens who’ll be reading this book. There’s EVERY CHANCE some guy could love a girl, yes in that way, and then when he finds a guy to date instead, love him too. He doesn’t have to be straight. Or gay. Or even define himself by being bisexual, because I get that people don’t have labels, sexuality is more complex, and all. But the word bisexual? Not once does it appear (and I’m reading an advanced copy so, if for some reason this changes, I would be incredibly pleased to know about it!). Not even as a consideration or an afterthought.

Throughout the rest of the book, this was marring my experience, but I have to admit it didn’t truly detract from the plot because not much happens. Tiny situations resolve themselves. Plotlines that could have been interesting, such as a certain character potentially having very serious unresolved mental illness issues, are never even addressed. The only thing that isn’t stagnant is time.

1/5 stars : should have DNF’d

I received an advanced copy from Chronicle Book for review and this in no way affected my honest review. They are an incredible publishing house and I’ve loved working with them. If you would like to read some of my favorite books by them, check out my reviews on The Clockwork Scarab and The Falconer.

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