Holy. Crow. This book was incredible. I could not put it down. I have made everyone I know read it so I can talk about it and I have been watching/reading reviews about it to see what other people thought. The problem is, people keep making reviews with no spoilers! I need to know what people actually think. I need to know what their thoughts are on WHAT IT ALL MEANS! So here are my thoughts. If you haven't read it, don't read this, but do go pick up the book and read it. Don't even read the synopsis, its better to go in knowing absolutely nothing like I did.
What its About
A couple is driving to have dinner with the boyfriends parents and the girlfriend will be meeting them for the first time. That's all you get.
What I Thought
Just going to share a few pictures so you aren't tempted to peak forward.
Okay, so. When I started the book, I literally knew nothing about it. I don't think I even read the synopsis. It was on Shanna of Vellum and Vellichor's TBR so I decided to read it too. So, I start it and I'm already confused because I thought this book was about suicide and it turns out to be about a girl wanting to break up with her boyfriend. I don't want to say that I was disappointed that the book wasn't apparently about suicide because suicide is sad but breaking up can be kind of boring. Anyways, I was really impressed by, as Shanna put it, the double fake out. This book is about suicide, no its not, but wait yes it actually is!
A lot of people I talked to said that they weren't really surprised and that they knew something was up and had kind of figured it out. I had literally no idea. But! When I'm reading, I really don't try to figure anything out. I like the surprise and I like to allow the story to take me where it's going naturally so that might be a part of why I was so shook by this one.
Throughout the conversation that happens between Jake and his unnamed girlfriend, it is obvious that something is amok. We aren't getting the whole story. Everything is just a little bit off and I especially noticed this inner struggle that she was having between thinking that Jake was this studly science god, but also thinking he was hideous and annoying and she was going to end things with him. At this point I was really expecting her to be the one with some kind of mental illness. Her personality didn't quite flow or line up properly.
Things didn't get real creepy until they got to Jake's family farm. On a tour of the farm, every area that she was shown was disturbing. It was like walking into different rooms of horror and having the owner of said rooms act like it is totally normal. The dead lambs, the pigs eaten by maggots. Was it that these physical places, that are supposed to be kind of wholesome, are sources of immense emotional upset? Are they rotten areas of his memories and therefore manifesting as dead and rotten. Did something bad happen to him there?
Then, they go inside to meet his parents. Thinking back, there are just so many details in this book and it's interesting to wonder which ones are woven into the tapestry of Jake's mind and into his story for a reason and which ones aren't. There's the oddness of the house, the empty bathroom, Jake's bedroom, his mother. The entire scene is off just enough to be unsettling. Nothing really happens, but you can feel deep down that something is seriously wrong.
The basement. I just went back and read this part again because, I literally couldn't even. I read the basement scene in the middle of the night. I was in bed feeding my baby reading my Ereader in the total dark and I actually got freaked the F out. So much so that I couldn't sleep. I was scared that there was something behind me, I was scared that something was going to get my baby. I was scared. On my second read of this scene, in the full light of day, I was obviously a lot less scared, but still the entire scene is unsettling. The paintings with the child in the corner of them all and when she felt like there was something behind her. Scary.
What's with the creepy ass paintings with the creepy ass little kid in them?
What's with the bathroom with absolutely nothing except the single pill bottle?
What was with the picture of the girl in Jake's room?
Wait! What was with the pictures of the body parts in Jake's room?
Why does his dad seem so normal and his mom is so sick? Is that what they were actually like?
So, then on the way home Jake decides that he just needs to go to Dairy Queen. Why?? The girls who work there act like they recognize her so I'm assuming they recognize Jake because he works at the school. The third girl appears from the back to make their drinks but the other two don't acknowledge her. Is that because she isn't really there? (Obviously none of them are actually there, I know that now) She also has some of the same physical characteristics as Jake in the way that she is skinny and has an itchy rash on her arms. Throughout the book each character seems to be plagued with a lot of the same imperfections that Jake deals with himself - skin issues, stomach issues, mental illness. Anyways, no one else seems to see the third girl, and she warns the girlfriend - says that she is scared for her and that she doesn't have to go. Now I can see this as a warning or as an answer to the question of whether or not Jake should end things. Kind of like the caller that keeps calling the girlfriend over and over from her own number always saying the same thing:
There's only one question to resolve. I'm scared. I feel a little crazy. I'm not lucid. The assumptions are right. I can feel my fear growing. Now is the time for the answer. Just one question. One question to answer.
Creepy AF. I could not figure out this message and the caller at first, but when I got to the end and realized that the caller was Jake "calling" himself and saying this over and over again - trying to get through to himself with the same mental loop playing again and again. Creeps me out, man.
There are multiple times in the book where creepy ass men are described. There was one watching her through her window. There was the weird driving instructor and there was the man watching her and Jake make out in the car. I'm wondering if there was something connected that happened in Jake's childhood - something with a creepy man and I swear that there has to be sexual abuse in his past as well which may be connected to these odd male characters - all of which are described with his own physical characteristics.
My main question about the DQ scene and it's the same question the girlfriend has, -
Why are they doing varnishing in the back?
For real, what is that about?
When they get to the school because Jake just couldn't wait to throw their cups in the garbage and then he sees a man watching them and he disappears into the school to find him. The girlfriend follows him in and there ensues a game of hide and seek essentially. She is running and hiding from this man that has lured them into the building and has already done something with Jake or so she thinks.
There is a moment when she goes from using the words "I" and "me" to "us" and "we". "I can't focus" to "we can't go back upstairs again." It is so subtle and seamless, that I didn't actually notice it at the time. Honestly, the whole end of the book is very disorienting and hard to follow which really shows Jake's mental state at that time. The pages and pages of repeating the same thought "What are you waiting for? What are you waiting for? What are you waiting for? What are you waiting for? What are you waiting for? What are you waiting for? What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?What are you waiting for?" Creepy AF. Then we come to the revelation that it's all Jake. They are all Jake. "She. He. We. Me". What!? Like I said, I didn't see it coming, I really expected that there was something to do with Jake's brother. I thought that he was the bad guy or that Jake was really the brother. Honestly, I don't really know about the brother - was he what Jake wanted to be? Anyways, I really wasn't expecting what I'm assuming to be multiple personalities.
The end is just so sad. Just to imagine the mental and physical anguish that he must have been feeling at the end to take his own life in the way that he did.
I realize that this review is seriously disjointed and probably makes absolutely no sense. There is just so much going on and I know that I've missed so much from the book. I really want to reread the entire thing. I've reread a little and I'm finding it to be a bit hard to read the second time because I'm analyzing every line so maybe I'll just let it lie and look forward to the Netflix movie that is coming out in a few weeks!
If you've read it, please tell me what you thought in the comments!
Right after I finished the book, I was losing my mind and had no one to talk to so I made a video in my pajamas. Obviously, I cant use technology because my audio doesn't work and I'm holding my phone the wrong way but, this was my initial reaction before talking to anyone about it.