I am easily taken in by a good cover and you guys, Algonquin Young Readers has KILLED it with the cover of Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon. I love the typography and the colors and basically everything about the cover, plus it actually has some significance to the book with the crown and all. Anyways, aside from being a fan of Seamon’s cover, I actually liked her debut young adult novel for the most part. Right now though, I am going to tell you that it is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea and that’s okay. For me though, this was a surprisingly funny read.
Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon is about a dying boy named Richie who is in a hospice. He’s got cancer, he’s 17 and well, you don’t go to hospice unless you have a month left. Basically the thrust of the book is about how Richie and another girl who is dying, Sophie, are on a mission to lose their virginity. And well, I know you will either think this book is crass and dislike it, or you will get the fact that sex is actually important to teenagers and some people really do not want to die virgins, so to me the plot makes sense. Yet, the mission is complicated by the fact that the teenagers are never left alone. Sophie’s dad is a big shot lawyer who hates Richie. Also, Richie can barely get around.
I don’t doubt that some readers will dislike Richard. He’s all teenage boy. Sometimes he thinks things that come across as being a dick, BUT YOU GUYS THIS IS NORMAL. I thought Seamon drew him as a complex character that goes beyond the Lurlene McDaniel object of pity, when it comes to books about kids who are very, very sick. I felt empathy for Richard, but at the same time, I was super invested in his journey from virgin to manhood, even if his time was very brief. He’s got a voice that is very straightforward and honest, but also with a sarcastic sense of humor. Again, it’s not going to work for everyone but did work for me.
Probably the greatest thing about Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon is the secondary characters. Richie’s grandmother who shows up for a few bits of the book is the quintessential kick ass grandmother. She’s a real live wire and I got excited whenever she was in the picture. He also has a cool uncle who is an artist and who takes him to get some during Halloween, if you know what I mean. His family outside of his mother is one of those sorts that is full of eccentric characters, if you know what I mean.
I feel weird going in the romance portion, but honestly, how privileged is it of me to think that teenagers who have cancer can’t fall in love and want to engage in adult situations? Come on. So, Richard and Sophie are very, very close friends as they are the two youngsters within the hospice. Richard has a bit of a crush on Sophie. She’s a real pisser. She’s also younger than Richard. For me, there were zero swoons, but I was rooting for them as a couple, despite how sad the book made me.
When it comes to the prose, I have to state that a real sort of gallows humor permeates Somebody Up There Hates You. I realize again, that there are people out there who do not get gallows humor or who do not find it appropriate. However, sometimes when you are in a bad situation it can help to laugh. And so, there are some funny bits in this book, like when Richie and Sophie are playing pranks on Halloween and get into major trouble. Or pretty much every scene with Richie’s uncle or grandmother. I’d definitely recommend this book to people who understand how humor works and who come into this book expecting something completely different from other cancer books like The Fault In Our Stars or those godawful Lurlene McDaniels books. Somebody Up There Hates You is a unique read that is probably better for the older end of the young adult scale and filled to the brim with excellent characterization.
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher
Other reviews of Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon:
Book Brats – “a book devoid of character development”
YA Love Blog – “I’m confident that plenty of my guys in class will connect with Richard”
Rhapsody In Books – “funny and enlightening”