Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Every Exquisite Thing, by Matthew Quick

A highly influential bit of "cult classic" literature, a turtle named Don Quixote, and a near-stereotypical Good Girl who wants to know if there's more to life than being the Perfect Daughter/Perfect Student/Perfect Whatever. Sounds like a setup for a great story.

Like a quest for The Great Perhaps, mayhaps? 

Oops. Wait...wrong book.

The basic storyline of Matthew Quick's Every Exquisite Thing bore a striking resemblance to that of John Green's debut novel, Looking for Alaska (which I liked, BTW). Here we have a Protagonist who goes with the flow, never sticks their neck out for any reason, and is maybe a little too sheltered. Here we have the Manic-Pixie-Dream-Girl-or-Boy crush/love interest, who, at first, appears the very embodiment of everything the Protag wants to be: Outgoing free thinker who is full of life and isn't afraid to speak their mind and stand up to The Man. 

Something of a relationship develops and the Protag's desire to rebel against the world is suddenly awakened. It's somewhat directionless, though (And, it seems, to me, said Protag is still being a follower. They're just following a different crowd). 

From here, things slide downhill pretty quickly:

Friends and family are alienated.

Feelings are hurt.

Hearts are broken.

There's a great abundance of angst and drama.

Before it's all said and done, the whole hot mess cumulates in tragedy. It's inevitable. 

And the Protag eventually emerges a wiser, more mature person with a better life direction. One would hope.

No more spoilers, though.

John Green did this well. Very well. Like I said, I really liked Looking for Alaska. It was perhaps one of the few books I HAD to read (for a class assignment) that I actually enjoyed. Enough to re-read.

Matthew Quick with Every Exquisite Thing...not so much. I mean, it was a good story. It had depth. It had a lesson. The plot did NOT hinge on the outcome of a love triangle. But the whole thing felt like an echo of Deja Vu. And I couldn't help but feel like everything had been done before (and better).

Overall, I'd recommend Every Exquisite Thing as a read-alike for Looking For Alaska, but I'd guess that the reader won't like it as much. --AJB

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