(Click the book cover to see on Goodreads)
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Title: Highly Illogical Behavior
Author: John Corey Whaley
Length: 256 pages
Publication: May 10th 2016 by Dial Books
Note: Penguin Random House sent me this e-book via First to Read for free in exchange for my honest review.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But how can she prove she deserves a spot there?
Solomon is the answer.
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa thrusts herself into his life, introducing him to her charming boyfriend Clark and confiding her fears in him. Soon, all three teens are far closer than they thought they’d be, and when their facades fall down, their friendships threaten to collapse, as well.
‘Highly Illogical Behavior’ is written in third person past following and giving insight into the thoughts of two characters: Lisa Praytor and Solomon Reed. Given that both characters are teenagers, their opinions and views are often childish and overbearing, even overconfident. Yet, such is the style and voice that make the story.
Pacing: The pacing starts off slow, offering background on each of the characters, their worlds, and how things work for them. With that set-up, the story plunges into the plot. From here it picks up speed, even skipping sections of time in a seamless format, halting and spending time only on the important plot-driving points.
World: The world is limited to just a handful of locations. Even the few locations that are given importance in the story such as the character’s houses, have been given very little detail. Due to the lack of description, these locations are more constraining boxes with titles than actual places. Still, the story doesn’t require the exuberant world-building of a fantasy novel. Its contemporary plot line is able to utilize these basic areas and focus on the character interactions.
Writing: The writing style mimics that of a teenager speaking. It uses basic speech and seems to jump from one idea to the next with little breath in between like the conversation just never stops. Yet, the actual speech between the characters is lacking in style. Their interactions don’t show the same easiness as the characters’ thoughts do, offering little substance to the building of relationships.
Non-Spoilered Plot: Friendships are hard enough to build and maintain, especially in our teenage years. Yet, they become that much more difficult when they start off as an experiment to ‘cure’ an agoraphobe, but Lisa Praytor is willing to do whatever it takes to write the best college entrance letter possible, which is what leads her to Solomon Reed. Hell bent on helping him (and in turn herself), Lisa wrangles herself and her boyfriend into showing Solomon how not scary the world really is in the hopes that he might leave his house and be cured. If only life were that simple.
Character: Both characters are annoyingly realistic in their own ways. Lisa Praytor is the overbearing teenager who wants nothing more than to be the absolute best, settle for nothing less, and get the hell out of dodge because she sees nothing worth staying for. On the other hand, Solomon Reed is the nervous, anxious teenager in us all, but taken the max. His anxiety forces him into the safe, mundane, repetitive environment of his home, permanently. Unfortunately, Lisa is that teenager who thinks she can change and help everyone, including the anxious kid, whether he wants her help or not, and her rash behavior is the cause of much of the anxiety in this story.
Plot: The main plot is one of self-discovery for each of the characters. They start at one point in their lives, content and unassuming, only to have their interaction change and remold them to make them new people with more knowledge and understanding. And even perhaps a little less innocence. Yet, Lisa Praytor sees her personal plot as a quest.
She wants to get in college and in order to do so, she must write the best entrance essay ever. The best way to do that is to interfere into Solomon Reed’s life. She, overzealous and overconfident, believes she can help him and even cure him of his agoraphobia, which would be the ultimate entrance essay topic. However, she takes little into account the effects such a task will have on Solomon. She also lacks the foresight for the consequences, turmoils, and kinks that will naturally fall into any quest.
Whether she achieves her goal or not, the reader is not told. Her entrance essay has little to do with her ‘supposed’ quest and more to do with the actual plot of self-discovery, in which she realizes how much of a child she was to presume she was able to cure Solomon of his agoraphobia, especially in such a few short months, when she has no clinical experience or training. Yet, it was not all for naught.
Solomon did manage to make it outside with the help of his new friends. Yet, the circumstances and specifics of his going outside leave much room for improvement. After all, the backyard pool is not the grocery store. The blacked-out inside of a van is not the hospital, but these are small steps and hope for the future. If nothing else, these small instances remind Solomon of his reasons for needing to go outside: like seeing his grandmother when she’s in the hospital and keeping his promise to go outside one more time before she dies (many years in the future given her young age).
So, even though neither Solomon nor Lisa intended for themselves to change or even for things to work out the way they did, the both grew. They both learned more about themselves. Yet, more importantly, they tested the bonds of friendship and even though they hurt each other, they found the strength hiding between them as well. That was more important to them. That was what had allowed each of them to grow and grow stronger. It’s for this reasoning that I leave my rating of this book, ‘Highly Illogical Behavior’, at four stars.