Genre: YA, Contemporary, Mental Illness
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
448 pages, Hardcover (326 ARC)
Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.
Shout out to the wonderful Little Shop of Stories for letting me take this ARC! Check them out if you’re ever in Decatur, GA!
Alex just wants to free the lobsters. When Alex was seven, she freed the lobsters at the supermarket with the help of a boy with blue eyes, who disappeared almost as quickly as he appeared. Her mother never mentioned him, and it was soon after that Alex found out she has paranoid schizophrenia. But when Alex is 17, she meets the boy again at school and he is definitely real. Right?
This book was brilliant, you guys. It’s the perfect kind of unreliable narrator – Alex has hallucinations and delusions and she never quite knows if what she is seeing is real, so how are we meant to? Alex takes pictures of her life to prove to herself later that what she saw was real and if it doesn’t disappear from the photo, it really was there. Alex is the heart of this story and she is fascinating. She deals with what life’s given her as best as she can, and she’s tough and sarcastic because of it. I think she felt even more real because she isn’t always likable. There were times I wanted to shake her and that made her so realistic. I have always been fascinated with the brain and mental illness, and I was totally absorbed in learning about Alex’s paranoid schizophrenia.
And then there’s Miles, the boy with the blue eyes. He’s got his own issues; he sells himself out to complete sometimes stupid and sometimes dangerous tasks for people at their high school. He’s a bit arrogant and a bit of a jerk sometimes, but he’s also vulnerable and it’s easy to fall a bit in love with him, but I appreciated the fact that the romance doesn’t take a front seat to Alex and her struggle with mental illness. Plus, he’s not exactly your typical love interest.
All of the characters in Made You Up felt fully fleshed, not just Alex and Miles – the principle who has a weird obsession with the school’s scoreboard, mean girl Celia whose mother seems to be forcing her to be that way, Miles’ friends and Alex’s little sister and parents. Zappia does an amazing job with her characters and none of them felt pointless or two-dimensional.
I won’t give it away, but OH MY GOODNESS, the twist! I was NOT expecting that. Zappia is definitely really good with misdirection, which is why her unreliable narrator is so freaking well-done. One thing that kind of bothered me was the end, which felt a little rushed, but it didn’t really change my feelings toward this book.
The bottom line: Made You Up is an addictive, compelling story that is both wonderfully written and absolutely fascinating. I could give you a whole bunch of other adjectives to describe how much I liked this book, or I could just say this: READ THIS NOW.
Rating: 8 – freaking fantastic