My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Not mind-blowing/awesome enough for four stars but definitely demands more than 3 stars.
While I can tell you a host of things I liked about this book, I can’t exactly pinpoint what I didn’t.
Perhaps, it was the palpable despondency and depression that surrounded this book.
Or maybe, it was the aimlessness of the story, the lack of an engaging plot in certain parts.
It could always also be that despite it being a fairly character-driven novel, I don’t get a feel of Lauren.
17 & Gone was one of the most anticipated books of 2013 and I’m sorry to say that I’m one of the minority who don’t feel so hyped about it. And there are very few of us. Not that I’m saying you should come and join us; go out and love it or not love it, but do read it. I get why people gush about it so and I find myself thinking some similar things but frankly, and I think I’ll be reiterating this a lot, the book bored me even when I was hooked and I know it makes no sense at all.
This, the book was not. 😦
I think it’s because of the author’s writing. It’s creepy and evocative, and creates such an ethereal atmosphere. It’s lush and begs for another glance. A multitude of sentences are crowding my head, some of them constituting whole paragraphs. It’s one of the most fabulous pieces of contemporary literature I’ve read, in terms of writing style.
The story is of a girl, Lauren, who is haunted, in the most literal sense, by past and figments of imagination and ghosts. All of them girls. All of them 17 and gone. Missing, runaways. Soon she becomes obsessed with them and it wrecks her life slowly, one piece at a time and she doesn’t even feel it. But we do. And it’s eerie, how oblivious she remains, how immersed she is in this world of hers.
Intriguing as it was, this obsession of hers also makes Lauren’s a hard narrative to immerse in, much less appreciate. I liked her unreliability and the missing pieces that were always there, and the things that shouldn’t be there, but it is difficult to get to know a person when there is no background. The only part of her life from before that can be recollected is her love for her mother.
The book’s slow pace is quite the anathema to Nova Ren Suma‘s words, augmented by the feeling of redundant ignorance on the part of the reader. The two make a fitting pair, constantly grappling the reader(majorly me) from pushing the book away as well as staying up late into the night to finish it.
This, the book was not, either.
I am neutral towards the ending, but I love the message this book delivers about not forgetting, not giving up on any of those girls. Those that we see on posters for missing/runaways-and-please-call-if-you-have-info and forget the next second as life delivers a soy-less coffee when we specifically ordered it with soy. And that very vital misstep of some bumbling barista draws our attention.
To end with, I’ll be on the lookout for new novels by the author, even if this book didn’t hold much appeal for me. And I’d recommend you to do so, as well.