Meanwhile the rest of us are struggling to be anything other than fragmented.
All Things New by Lauren Miller follows the life of a girl living with anxiety and the repercussions a bad night at a party and a subsequent car crash has on her life, leading into a conversation for how one deals with such circumstances. I have to admit, this was a hard book for me to get through, though not because of the subject matter. I actually found the subject matter to be quite intriguing and relatable, which is why I picked this book up in the first place. I’ve lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember, with panic attacks coming and no way of stopping them. And I have to give Miller this, she does a pretty good job (for the most part, anyway) of portraying what it’s like to go through a panic attack.
But that’s about all this story really has that I appreciated.
The book starts out alright, leaving the reader feeling interested and curious about where the book is going to go. It even has a lot of strength in Miller’s portrayal of anxiety, which I haven’t found often in novels. But after a while it just…falls apart. I regularly found Jessa annoying as I neared the end of the novel and I think that this was largely due to a plot device that resulted in her hallucinations and the heavy connection it had to religion and spirituality which I found incredibly irritating. Now, while what she does hallucinate is revealed fairly early on, I won’t reveal that piece to avoid spoilers, but I just found the concept of what she was “seeing” and what it actually meant vastly ridiculous.
When its meaning was revealed about three quarters of the way through the novel, I literally rolled my eyes every single time it was brought up. It just felt exceptionally dumb to me, not to mention quite unrealistic. You have to give up a level of believability in order to accept this portion of the story and in order for me to buy into something like that, the rest of the book has to be pretty exceptional. All Things New was not. There were simply too many far fetched pieces of it for me to accept.
The most irritating piece of this novel, for me however, was the religious/spiritual aspects. This is definitely a personal thing for me, but I just don’t appreciate novels that try to project religious things as reality. I’ve always had a hard time with this and combining it with the poor writing completely ruined the book for me. Now, this aspect wasn’t exceptionally strong within the novel and really only irritated me at the end as ultimately it was the writing and Jessa’s characters that led me to initially dislike the book. But, I can say without a doubt that any chance of improvement was gone the second the spiritual connection was brought up.
Miller also added a number of side plots that felt somewhat distracting, though they weren’t entirely terrible. I found Hannah and Marshall to be the most developed and interesting characters, however there wasn’t really a whole lot going on with them either. Their plots felt somewhat repetitive and as they were told from Jessa’s voice, weren’t really portrayed well. And I really just hated Jessa after a while. She barely developed at all, and any development she did have was credited to some sort of religious interference. Ugh.
Finally, this book spoiled another book for me. I’ve been meaning to read A Picture of Dorian Gray for a few years now, but just not gotten around to it. As Jessa is working on an essay about the book, Miller basically describes the entire plot in her novel. Admittedly, I was rather angry about this, despite knowing that the book in question has been out for a great number of years. Even so, it was thoroughly disappointing to realize that I’ve now had a book I’ve been looking forward to reading completely spoiled for me because someone decided to spell out the entire plot of the novel in their own. So, just a heads up for you readers out there if you haven’t read Dorian Grey and still want to…don’t read Miller’s book until after you do.
I don’t particularly think that All Things New is a bad book, but I definitely wouldn’t call it a good book either. It exists more in the average level, where it’s really just okay. There’s nothing exceptional about it and I feel like very little interesting things happened throughout, but perhaps someone else might feel completely differently.
I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.