Wednesday 18 October 2017

I Hate Everyone But You, Gaby Dunn

then last night he CALLED me and asked me to come over to "talk". I assumed this was a thinly veiled booty call but was lonely so agreed
So begins a series of texts and emails sent between two best friends, Ava and Gen, as they head off to their first semesters of college on opposite sides of the country. From first loves to weird roommates, heartbreak, self-discovery, coming out and mental health, the two best friends will document every moment to each other. But as each changes and grows into her new life, will their friendship be able to survive the distance?

* * 
2 / 5 

With a title like "i hate everyone but you" I was concerned that I was going to get a very hipster and "edgy" read aimed at thirteen year olds. I Hate Everyone But You is a very much older teenager book and is cram packed with sex, drugs, and unhealthy relationships; it also doesn't really have much going in terms of plot. This classic tale of going away to university and friendship was hilarious and relatable at first, but it quickly becomes apparent that neither of our two main characters, Eva and Gen, are particularly likeable and the book becomes rather preachy. 

Does no one else have panic attacks that they're going to arrive late and ruin their lives so they overcompensate by arriving extremely early?

Ava and Gen have been best friends throughout school, but now both are headed to different universities. Gen packed her bags in the night and went across the country to attend university as far from her family as possible, Ava can't bear to leave home. Gen throws herself into a life of having sex with her professors, getting drunk all the time, and a bunch of weird relationships and drama whilst working at the paper. Ava struggles to get to therapy and to find friends, she tries out sorority life but feels increasing alienated. They sound like very different people on paper, but in reality their voices are so similar. Both have strong views, argue a lot, have a string of romances, and are only identified by a small chat icon that makes it hard both to connect with them and to tell them apart. 

Unfortunately, both of them were pretty bad people. Sure, they had some relatable aspects; Ava struggling with her anxiety and finding it hard to connect with people and Gen working out her sexuality and how to be a real adult (tm). I had a fair amount of sympathy and compassion for both at first, because going to university is hard and navigating adult life and adult relationships is hard. But both are incredibly judgemental people (Gen literally says "I don't subscribe to labels unless I'm labelling other people" in the middle of chewing Ava out for mistakenly calling her bisexual), they're both pretty horrible to each other about the other's life and choices, but nothing ever seems to actually happen. It's like watching a filler episode of Gossip Girls or Pretty Little Liars: no plot, people being mean, lots of sex and ruined relationships, and it's kind of weirdly entertaining but you can also feel your brain cells dying. 

Chelsea is kind of a basic bitch but she sort of knows it and doesn't care which is weirdly refreshing

The story is told entirely via emails, texts, and instant messaging transcripts. This kind of format can work very well, for example Illuminae, and here it kind of worked; it took me quite a while to remember which girl was which due to the lack of connection, but it was novel and easy to read. Since nothing is dated, I found it very difficult to keep hold of a sense of time throughout the book. Has it been two days since they last spoke? A month? I have no idea because nothing is dated! 

I Hate Everyone But You started off with promise but quickly descended into nothing but petty squabbles, unhealthy relationship drama, and difficult main characters. 

My thanks to Netgalley, the publisher, and the author for an ARC of this book

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