I received this book for free from NOVL in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
TITLE: Instructions for a Secondhand Heart
AUTHOR: Tamsyn Murray
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Jonny knows better than anyone that life is full of cruel ironies. He's spent every day in a hospital hooked up to machines to keep his heart ticking. Then when a donor match is found for Jonny's heart, that turns out to be the cruelest irony of all. Because for Jonny's life to finally start, someone else's had to end.
That someone turns out to be Neve's twin brother, Leo. When Leo was alive, all Neve wanted was for him (and all his glorious, overshadowing perfection) to leave. Now that Leo's actually gone forever, Neve has no idea how to move forward. Then Jonny walks into her life looking for answers, her brother's heart beating in his chest, and everything starts to change.
Together, Neve and Jonny will have to face the future, no matter how frightening it is, while also learning to heal their hearts, no matter how much it hurts.
Instructions for a Secondhand Heart tells the story of Jonny, a teenager who recently received a heart transplant, and Neve, the sister of the donor of Jonny’s new organ. I have so many mixed feelings about Instructions for a Secondhand Heart. I really liked the concept. I think it’s pretty unique. At least in YA. I can’t remember ever reading the story about two characters who are connected by a donated organ before. But the new concept is one of the few things I really enjoyed about this story. Everything else was kind of meh, in my opinion.
While on paper, the concept is unique, this story is not so much. It’s a bit cliche and pretty predictable. Furthermore, this story is built on emotion. Jonny was dying before the transplant. Neve’s brother actually died. And yet, I didn’t feel anything. I didn’t feel sadness and relief for Jonny. I didn’t feel guilt or grief for Neve. I just felt nothing. Maybe because by nature, I’m not too emotional. Or it’s because I also didn’t care for the characters that much.
The characters, Jonny and Neve, were just so distant to me. Obviously, I have no idea what they’re going through, but I also could not relate to them on the most basic level. I felt like Jonny was a creep and a terrible friend and Neve was underdeveloped. While I could sympathize with them, they both made me want to bang my head against the book way too many times. And the romance – I just wish it didn’t exist. I think I might actually have enjoyed Instructions for a Secondhand Heart more if romance wasn’t involved.
That being said, there’s no denying the book has a little special something going for it. The writing is charming and intriguing enough to keep you turning the pages despite all its flaws. That’s the difference between a book you do no finish and one that was mediocre.
Instructions for a Secondhand Heart is a decent read. While it doesn’t have the best characters or romance, its unique concept and charm kept me reading until the end.