You know that feeling when you read a book and you like it more than your friends did and then you feel all weird because you genuinely enjoyed something they all seemed to dislike? That totally happened with me and The Beginning Of Everything by Robyn Schneider. I actually really enjoyed Schneider’s contemporary literary young adult book. I think that if you enjoy more cerebral reads and books like Looking For Alaska or The Miseducation Of Cameron Post, books that move a bit slower and require some brain cells, you might really enjoy The Beginning Of Everything. If not, no hard feelings it’s definitely not the book for everyone and I think that this will work for a certain type of reader.
Narrated by Ezra Faulkner, The Beginning Of Everything is essentially a book of tragedies. It is a book of heart break. Ezra believes that every person will experience a tragedy that will ultimately change them and their life course, like his former best friend Toby who, on his twelfth birthday happened to be so unlucky as to catch the severed head of a kid while on Thunder Mountain at Disneyland. According to Ezra, this moment forever changed Toby. Ezra’s tragedy, he believes, happened when after catching his girlfriend cheating on him, he goes to leave a party and an unidentified black SUV smashes into the side of his Beamer which messes up Ezra’s knee and effectively ends his reign as golden boy of Eastwood High. But more than that, The Beginning Of Everything is about Ezra’s relationship with Cassidy, a girl that I will go into depth on later. It’s also about how it takes him losing everything to find himself, as cliche as that sounds.
Given that I have lived with a male for the past five years and that for one semester in college I left my studio apartment to live in a three bedroom with two male roommates, I feel like I have pretty special insight into how boys think. So, I feel pretty legit when I say that I thought Ezra was an accurate male representation. I mean, okay there’s some things about him that make him better than the average male, namely that he reads books and thinks these deep philosophical things without being an insufferable douchebag. Like, the dudes I knew who were into that stuff were insufferable douches — like the guys who were in philosophy club and would come to our apartment to drink with my weird roommate and play magic, LOL. I mean, a few were not annoying but that was rare. Anyways. I really liked Ezra’s character and how much he matures and comes of age or whatever during The Beginning Of Everything. I think that if you like John Green’s narrators, you will enjoy reading about Ezra.
Unfortunately, I just can’t throw my weight behind the romance. I thought the girl, Cassidy was such a manic pixie dream girl, and that sucks. Like, okay I usually don’t mind them, like I liked Alaska Young. But, I thought Cassidy was often ridiculous and selfish and really needed to learn how communication works. Also, she was sort of a rich snob. At one point she chastises Ezra for considering state schools and I’m like wow this little princess totally doesn’t understand how crushing student loan debt is, but of course these kids are all upper middle class, so what debt?! Anyways. I just found Cassidy super annoying but I got why she was so alluring to Ezra. She represents something different. She’s basically his Daisy. Or, hmmm, those females who really do come across as magical and quirky and weird and brilliant. I just couldn’t get into her, as a person. Maybe I am too grown up to think that kind of bullshit is cool? Alas. I think younger me would have been like wow Cassidy is awesome!
Where The Beginning Of Everything by Robyn Schneider shone to me was in the writing style. I thought this book was beautifully written. There are pages where I just wanted to fold the corner over and highlight and share with the world. There’s all these literary and music references and reading them and understanding them made me feel like I was in on something. However, parts felt kind of like I was being manipulated emotionally — especially the ending. Fair warning, because I knew going in and you might also want to know – don’t get too attached to the dog. I thought what happened at the end was kind of cheap and fit together a bit too perfectly and it kind of made me cringe. BUT, before all that happened, I really, truly loved the prose and I think that if you are someone who reads because you like words and how they fit together and roll off your tongue, you’ll like the way The Beginning Of Everything is written. In all, I’d recommend this to people of a more intellectual bent than to people who read for more superficial reasons. Not that there’s anything wrong with that because I totally read for superficial reasons, just don’t go in expecting swoons and a grand adventure and you’ll be fine.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher
Other reviews of The Beginning Of Everything by Robyn Schneider:
Rather Be Reading – “I didn’t connect with golden-boy-turned outcast, Ezra”
Pure Imagination – “has a very John Green feel to it.”
Writer Of Wrongs – “you HAVE to pick up this book”