Author: Susan Vaught
Release date: September 4th 2012
Genre: Contemporary YA
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My rating: 3 out of 5 starsWhen Jason Milwaukee’s best friend, Sunshine, disappears from the face of the earth, the whole town, including Jason, starts searching for her. But the insistent voices in Jason’s head won’t let him get to the heart of the mystery—he’s schizophrenic, and the voices make it hard to know what is real and what is not. As the chase becomes more panicked, Jason’s meds start wearing off, and he is looking more and more guilty. But of what, exactly? Both brilliantly witty and intensely honest, this poignant novel draws upon the author’s many years as an adolescent psychologist, but it’s Vaught’s powerful voice and expertly crafted mystery that will keep the pages turning.
There are things I liked and things I didn't like about Freaks Like Us, but one thing I know for sure - this book is like no other. The writing style is very unique, making the book kind of hard to get into, at first. A lot of the narration is stream-of-consciousness-like, and that combined with Jason's voice causes for some confusing paragraphs. There are parts that don't use punctuation and defy all rules of grammar, and some parts don't even make sense. But after a while, I got used to it. And if you think about it, the way the novel is crafted is kind of brilliant. Jason has a special way of telling his story that might seem off-putting at first, but you have to keep going, and once you get used to it, it's so worth it.
It's hard to explain, what it's like to read this book. You have no idea what's going on, but not in a bad way. Jason has trouble discerning his voices from the real stuff, and since he's our narrator, we don't know what's real and what isn't, either. That might sound strange, but it totally works. The not knowing had me on the edge of my seat throughout. There's this quality to Freaks Like Us that's hard to describe - the word breathless comes to mind. It's like I breathed in once when I started the book, then I had to read the whole thing as quickly as possible, and only once everything is figured out could I breathe it all out again.
I don't really know what else I could say about this book because it's so different from anything I've read before. The characters... well, what can I say? I didn't love them, and I didn't feel like I got to know them all that well, but I didn't really mind - it'd be impossible to get to know them the way you normally get to know characters, the way this book is set-up.
I'm not sure what to make of the mystery, either. I liked it in the beginning, trying to figure out who could have done it. But after a while, I got confused by all the suspects. Like I said, it feels wrong to criticize this because of the set-up, but I don't think the suspects are developed enough. I found the ending kind of strange, and I don't think it's all that realistic or fits all the clues we got over the course of the book. But still, I didn't mind all that much, because that's not the point - it doesn't have to make sense, because our narrator doesn't always make sense.
I'm sorry, I know this review is kind of weird and all over the place. But, really, that's how I felt about this book. Freaks Like Us won't work for everyone, and I think the unusual style and weirdness of it all will bug a lot of people. "Enjoy" feels like the wrong word, because I didn't enjoy this book like I usually enjoy books, but I really did like Freaks Like Us. If you're looking for a unique read that'll keep you hooked and aren't afraid to get confused or weirded out at times, you should definitely give Freaks Like Us a try.