Ages and ages ago, way back when I was doing my first Cannonball, I read an amazing book called Please Ignore Vera Dietz by AS King. It was the kind of book that really stuck with me — I thought about it long after finishing it, adding it to a list of books in my mind that I would set aside for Bunnybean to read when she is old enough. But I never sought out any of King’s other books. Why?
Because of Lauren Oliver.
I’m going to pull a Bill Simmons, and go ahead and dub this situation THE LAUREN OLIVER THEORY.
She wrote a beautiful book once upon a time, called Before I Fall. And because of that book, I’ve fallen down a Lauren Oliver hole and can’t get out. I read all of her RIDICULOUS Delirium books, each worse than the one before it. But I couldn’t give her up, because I knew that somewhere inside her mess of a dystopia there was a talented writer. And maybe someday we’d see her talent shine again. But it looks like we won’t and that maybe Before I Fall was a fluke.
And I was worried that King’s other books might be similar — what if the magnificence of Vera Dietz was a one-time thing and the rest of King’s books were Delirium-esque crap?
However, I’m happy to report that Ask the Passengers, while not as great as Vera, was still pretty damn good. Take that, Lauren Oliver!
ATP is the story of Astrid, a high schooler living in a very Stepford-esque town in suburban PA. At first glance, her life seems pretty regular: problems with her parents, no boyfriend, etc. But as we get to know Astrid, we find out that she — and many around her — have some pretty big secrets. Secrets about sexuality, drug use, lying, etc.
One of my favorite things about Vera Dietz was her relationship with her Dad. Sadly, there aren’t any relationships in this book that are as real, especially those between Astrid and her parents.
My main issue with ATP was a small one — Astrid’s mom was a complete and total shrew, and we don’t ever really find out why. Why has she pushed Astrid out of her life and pulled her little sister closer and closer? Don’t get me wrong, her mom was an interesting character — so obsessed with her status in the neighborhood and how horrible it would be if their family didn’t always look 100% perfect. I just wish we knew more about why she was that way.
Long story short, I’m so glad that I decided to give AS King another try. I’ll be on the lookout for more of her stuff at the library.