03 October 2016

ARC Review: Holding Up the Universe, Jennifer Niven

Holding Up the Universe

Title: Holding Up the Universe
Author: Jennifer Niven
Published: 06/10/2016, Penguin
Pages: 368
Source: Netgalley
Format: Ebook

Rating: 2.5/5

"From the author of the New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places comes a heart-wrenching story about what it means to see someone - and love someone - for who they truly are.

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed 'America's Fattest Teen'. But no one's taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum's death, she's been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby's ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything.

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he's got swagger, but he's also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can't recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He's the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can't understand what's going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don't get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world - theirs and yours."

Holding Up the Universe is a nice, meaningful story about two totally different teenagers with their own issues meeting and helping each other. I'd say it is kind of similar to many other YA Contemporaries at the moment but I did enjoy the story all the same. It's also a quick and easy read.

The main characters, Libby and Jack, are both likeable enough. For someone that was housebound for so long, Libby is actually a very confident and outgoing character. She doesn't take any crap from anyone. Libby knows what she wants and she goes for it.

I did like Jack, but I did think he was a bit of a dick to begin with. However, it's very clear that he uses this as a shield to hide his prosopagnosia. I don't think he's very confident in reality and doesn't want to come across as being different. I can't even imagine how frustrating it must be to live with prosopagnosia. However, I didn't quite understand how Jack's parents didn't even notice a difference in his behaviour. Surely any parent would notice if their child is struggling to identify family members.

Holding Up the Universe is told from the alternating perspectives of Libby and Jack. I liked this as it gave a full picture of both their issues. However, I did find the story predictable. The romance, although a slow burner, was obvious and I really wish Libby and Jack could have just been friends.

Although Holding Up the Universe is a quick read, I actually found the pacing a tad on the slow side. I just don't remember much happening really. The ending was also a bit meh for me. Something just didn't sit well for me.

Holding Up the Universe was an okay read for me that does a great job at highlighting two completely different issues. I think I would still recommend Holding Up the Universe to teenagers and fans of contemporary YA though.

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