Oh no you don’t Silvera! I know I’ve only read one of your books so far, but I know your reputation. This will not leave me “More Happy Than Not”, that’s not how you play ball, Silvera!
More Happy Than Not follows 16-year-old Aaron and his attempt to fit himself back into his own life with his friends, family and girlfriend after a failed attempt at suicide. As this is an Adam Silvera novel, you know it’s going to have some dystopian yet semi-realistic service, or something similar, that acts as a catalyst for the plot. For More Happy Than Not, this comes in the form of the Lateo Institute.
The Lateo Institute is a memory erasing/altering service that helps people forget traumatic events and helps them cope with life and go on living. Naturally, you kinda have to suspend your disbelief with this one. Just like with They Both Die At The End’s Deathcast. This isn’t sci-fi so don’t expect detailed explanations about how it all works– just go with the flow and roll with it.
This was another great book and it’s sad for sure, but honestly – it’s nowhere near as devastating as They Both Die At The End. I don’t think it’s because I’m desensitised to Silvera’s style – after all, I’ve only read one so far! Sure, I was sad at the end of More Happy Than Not but I wasn’t crying like I was with They Both Die At The End. I still think about They Both Die At The End,and I think it comes down to the characters.
“Happiness shouldn’t be this hard.”
Aaron undergoes the procedure because he had his heartbroken. At sixteen years old! I’m SO angry at the other characters in this book that should have known better. Do any of the characters tell Aaron the sensible thing? Give him genuine advice? Something like: ‘it’s heartbreak;you’re a teenager, so you feel your world has ended. But it didn’t. We’ve all been there and many will again. But you move on. You live.’ No. No they did not. They said something like: ‘Hey, sure!Go and have a damn near experimental procedure done on your memories at sixteen years old for something that,in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that traumatising and you’ll get over in time. There’s no issue with that at all!’.
I was invested in Rufus and Mateo from They Both Die At The End, but I never felt that with the characters of More Happy Than Not. Perhaps it’s the innocence factor: Rufus and Mateo were told that they were going to die.End of. No chance for redemption, no chance to change their fate, no choice. More Happy Than Not’s Aaron has chances –many of them – and I think he took the easy way out. I’m not talking about suicide; I’m talking about memory erasure.
Urgh, Aarons friends and mother are so fucking irresponsible it’s unreal. Genuinely, I found it hard to believe his mother was on board with this. Friends, sure, they are all teenagers and all have the same kinds of thoughts. But a grown woman? Nah, not buying it. Genevieve was manipulative too, and ended up with Thomas pretty quick – stone cold bitch! Thomas is also kind of a piece of shit for leading Aaron on when he had his suspicions.
Aaron was no prized peach either. I found him whiny and desperate and just not likable. Aaron kind of….not deserved what happened to him, but he kind of brought it on himself and as much as I was sad, I couldn’t give too much sympathy to him. The only time I truly felt for Aaron was when he was treated appallingly by his ‘friends’because of his sexuality. The homophobia was disgusting, but unfortunately it’s still a fact of life for many people.
“I realize I’m crying a little, too. I remember. Sometimes pain is so unmanageable that the idea of spending another day with it seems impossible. Other times pain acts as a compass to help you through the messier tunnels of growing up. But pain can only help you find happiness if you remember it.”
All of this added up to me not being as invested in the characters. Plus there were fewer likable characters throughout the entire book. Evangeline and Eric only redeemable characters or had good aspects.
However, More Happy Than Not is full of great writing, has lots of subplots, but they all worked out to be the right length, and it had brilliant twists. More Happy Than Not has a great ‘be careful what you wish for message and is good in its own right, but comparing it to They Both Die At The End it doesn’t hold a candle. But this was Silvera’s first novel and was still enjoyable!
“Memories: some can be sucker punching, others carry you forward; some stay with you forever, others you forget on your own. You can’t really know which ones you’ll survive if you don’t stay on the battlefield, bad times shooting at you like bullets. But if you’re lucky, you’ll have plenty of good times to shield you.”
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