I received this book for free from NetGalley, ABRAMS Kids in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
TITLE: The Movie Version
AUTHOR: Emma Wunsch
Publisher: Amulet Books
PUBLICATION DATE: October 11th 2016
Source: NetGalley, ABRAMS Kids
Goodreads | RATING:
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.
The Movie Version is about… wait, hold on, I need to think about this for a second. Um, The Movie Version is about Amelia and how she deals with her brother’s mental illness?
I was not overly impressed with The Movie Version. First of all, the synopsis was seriously misleading. It lead me to believe that I should expect a cute self-discovery novel about a girl falling in love for the first time. That is what you would expect from a synopsis that claims it is a “YA novel about first love, first loss, and filmmaking”, no? What I got instead was a whole modge podge of things. First love (so, so awkward), friendship, family, mental illness (does this count as “first loss”?), and filmmaking (if you call movie references and the existence of a film club filmmaking…).
First love. Oh god. This was so incredibly awkward to read about. And it wasn’t a cute awkward. More like cringe-worthy, love at first sight, awkward. Not only did it feel forced, it also felt really superficial. It seemed really basic and not developed at all.
Okay, so I admit, maybe one of the many reasons why I didn’t like the romance in The Movie Version is because I didn’t love Amelia, the main character. Amelia reminded me of some girls I had the misfortune of knowing in high school. I could understand her and her logic, but she was so annoying. She made me facepalm at least every other chapter.
Another problem is that while I have so much in common with Amelia, she was still very hard for me to connect to. She was like a flat character that only went through a little growth, and only in the last few characters. And maybe it’s okay to not like the protagonist that much. But in my opinion, it is kind of necessary for the main character to be at least somewhat likable in a character driven book, like this one.
I had a really hard time reading The Movie Version. While the writing embodied the teen spirit of Amelia, it failed me in many ways. I kept waiting for it to pull me in and make me care about the story. But it never happened. In fact, I almost DNFed this book a couple of times. I also didn’t like how unrealistic it became at times and how it dealt with certain situations.
And then there’s how The Movie Version dealt with mental illness. I was not pleased. While I am still debating if mental illness was used as a plot device intentionally, I cannot stand behind how it was represented in this book. I will admit that as disgusting and ignorant the reaction of Amelia and her family was, it was, sadly, realistic. That being said, beyond the last few chapters, The Movie Version does nothing to fight the stigma attached to mental illness. In fact, it’s just more proof why society needs to change the labels we associate with them.
With a terribly awkward romance, annoying main characters, and the aggravating way it dealt with mental illness, The Movie Version isn’t a novel I would read again or recommend to friends. It does have a few highlights (movie references, childhood flashbacks, and how it captures teen spirit), but they, unfortunately, do not outweigh the lows for me.