A whip-smart, heart-wrenching debut YA novel about first love, first loss, and filmmaking that will delight fans of Jandy Nelson and Jennifer Niven
In the movie version of Amelia’s life, the roles have always been clear. Her older brother, Toby: definitely the Star. As popular with the stoners as he is with the cheerleaders, Toby is someone you’d pay ten bucks to watch sweep Battle of the Bands and build a “beach party” in the bathroom. As for Amelia? She’s Toby Anderson’s Younger Sister. She’s perfectly happy to watch Toby’s hijinks from the sidelines, when she’s not engrossed in one of her elaborately themed Netflix movie marathons.
But recently Toby’s been acting in a very non-movie-version way. He’s stopped hanging out with his horde of friends and started obsessively journaling and disappearing for days at a time. Amelia doesn’t know what’s happened to her awesome older brother, or who this strange actor is that’s taken his place. And there’s someone else pulling at her attention: a smart, cute new boyfriend who wants to know the real Amelia—not Toby’s Sidekick. Amelia feels adrift without her star, but to best help Toby—and herself—it might be time to cast a new role: Amelia Anderson, leading lady.
*I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion in any way*
The Movie Version follows Amelia as she comes to terms with her brother’s mental illness. Overall, I had very mixed feelings about this book.
Things I loved:
What I immediately fell in love with in this book is the family dynamics. It was refreshing to see a YA novel which was family orientated. All the characters had individual personalities and it was interesting to see how they all reacted to Toby’s mental illness and the effects it can have on families. Ray was also a fantastic best friend and beautifully written about and it captured the right balance between friends/family which more accurately reflects a teenager’s life than some other YA books.
The movie references throughout were also superb. I’ve even written a list of some of the ones that sound interesting! It was a great running theme throughout and the passion Amelia and Toby shared was a nice way to show how close they were. I definitely think if you’re a big movie nerd, it would be great to read with all the references and quotes throughout. It was clearly researched!
I also thought it was written very well. I certainly can’t comment on how accurate the portrayal of mental illness is in this book but I thought it was dealt with in a sensitive manner. The fact that no one noticed Toby’s situation at the beginning was something I haven’t read in other novels before but reflects how mental illness really can affect anyone and everyone.
Few Things that annoyed me:
The CONSTANT references to Epstein’s ‘big ears’. This might only seem like a small thing but this was mentioned maybe 9 or 10 times in the whole novel i.e. every time Amelia met up with Epstein. I felt it was unnecessary and actually very unrealistic to be so embarrassed by your boyfriend’s ears. I didn’t see the point in mentioning it? He was supposed to be Amelia’s boyfriend but the first thing she thinks of when he meets her friends is that she’s thankful his hair has grown to cover his ears. I don’t know, it got repetitive, very annoying and made Amelia come across as a nasty person at times and made me dislike Amelia, especially with her love/hate relationship with Epstein. I thought the family relationships were written about perfectly but the boyfriend aspect, not so much.
The sex scenes. Now by no means am I against sex scenes, but I felt in The Movie Version, they became very repetitive. The first time it was covered, it did add something to the novel, but afterwards it became boring. There was no need to have several page description EVERY time they had sex.
I feel the flashbacks to Amelia and Toby’s childhood were also unnecessary. I could see how close Amelia and Toby were without these flashbacks and I felt that because they were written in script format (a good link to ‘movies’ though), it was just dialogue and didn’t add anything for me unfortunately.
So yeah, overall I had very mixed feelings! I would pick it up if it sounds like it might intrigue you or if you are a big movie fan! I thought this was an okay book – it just didn’t ‘wow’ me but I still think it is a strong debut novel from Emma Wunsch. There were a few minor things I didn’t like, especially the relationship aspect, but the other themes were relevant to teenagers and the family dynamics made it unique and memorable to other YA novels.