This book required the creation of a new tag, "bad medicine." God knows many books have merited it in the past, but none more than this one. It is also the only book I've ever read which would have been improved by adding more vomit.

Teenage Jonah is on a quest to break every bone in his body, filmed by his friend Naomi (whose implausibilities as a character only begin with her nickname being "Nom") on the theory that they'll grow back stronger and thus demonstrate to his beyond-dysfunctional family that healing is possible.

His brother Jesse, whom Jonas is massively protective of, is deathly allergic to everything, including all forms of milk. Including breast milk. Even if all he does is touch it or inhale a vaporized drop of it. Their parents have cleverly had a new baby, whose very existence, feeding as he does on deadly milk, is a life-threatening risk to Jesse.

Jonah eventually lands in a mental hospital, where the inmates are so awed by him that they too begin breaking their bones, as does a hospital volunteer. The volunteer also breaks him out so that the final and utterly random plot twist and implausible "everything's fine now" resolution can occur.

I could continue with the plot, but it will be easier to note down the implausibilities.

- Jonas breaks something like thirty bones, over the course of one year, in seven or eight separate incidents. Many of these are large, important bones, such as arms, legs, ribs, and jaw. He should never have gotten out of rehab at all, but somehow manages to continue school and be well enough to break more bones in skateboarding "accidents." I refer you to [personal profile] truepenny's journal (page down a bit) for a vivid account of how much impact breaking even a single significant bone has on one's life.

- From what I've heard from people who have actually done it, you will notice if you break your jaw, even if you have other injuries as well.

- If your jaw is wired shut, preventing you from eating solid food, you will be unable to carry on long, easy conversations for the rest of the book like nothing has happened.

- Jonah should be in so much pain that he is unable to concentrate in school, and should be on meds that will also interfere with his life. He should be in physical therapy. He should struggle with performing basic everyday tasks, getting up stairs, holding pens, and skateboarding. He should not be easily running around and being athletic, only pausing to be in pain when the author wants him to be emo.

- I can't believe I'm saying this, but the bone-breaking scenes are so incredibly unrealistic that they would have been improved with vomit.

- If Jonah is that obsessed with Jesse's health, he should know what Jesse's allergic to, rather than offhandedly saying, "Milk, bread, strawberries, and so much other stuff I can't remember it all."

- His parents are oblivious and uncaring about Jesse landing in the ER on the verge of death once a month, Jonah breaking nineteen bones in one year, and their baby being a constant threat to Jesse's life. I can buy bad parenting, but if you're going to depict parents as that abusive and crazy, they should be seen being abusive and crazy in general. In fact, they are largely absent from the story, and behave that way because otherwise there would be no story.

- Where is the money coming from to pay for all those bones and episodes of anaphylactic shock? If it's out of pocket, they should have long since been homeless. If it's insurance, why hasn't the insurance company noticed that something is up, despite Jonah "cleverly" going to a different hospital each time?

- Why does it take a year for the school to report the family to child protective services? Why does the psychiatrist who eventually talks to Jonah brush off his claim that his parents broke his bones, given that abuse is way more plausible than the real story?

Really terrible. It needed to be either completely over the top and explicitly non-realistic, or else way more understated. Also, not actually that entertaining, except for the hilariously over the top scene when Jesse touches the baby and keels over from milk poisoning. I only finished it out of incredulity and because it was so short.

Break
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong


Jonah eventually lands in a mental hospital, where the inmates are so awed by him that they too begin breaking their bones, as does a hospital volunteer.

*cannot stop laughing*
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong


One advantage of my Recent Experiences is that I can gain a whole new level of entertainment from bad fiction about psychiatric hospitals.

(Extracts plz?)
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong


Alas, I don't seem to be able to access the extracts without a B&N account.

*makes sad face*
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong


...

Actually, come to think of it, how is he planning to deal with his spine?
rydra_wong: Lee Miller photo showing two women wearing metal fire masks in England during WWII. (Default)

From: [personal profile] rydra_wong


He vaguely mentions saving his spine and skull for last.

Gotta do each vertebrae individually, or it doesn't count!

How targeted is he being, anyway? I mean, is he deciding that he's going to aim for a wrist and maybe a few ribs this time? Or is he just hurling himself onto concrete and hoping for the best?
dragovianknight: closeup of a green dragon (Default)

From: [personal profile] dragovianknight


These posts always make me want to experience the awful for myself. *facepalm* I think you should at least share the "keeling over from deadly baybee" scene.

From: [personal profile] tanyahp


This does sound like a fantastically bad book. Almost makes me think I could do better! At least I know how to write about vomit!

From: [identity profile] copperwise.livejournal.com


I smell poo. I won't be reading this one...

From: [identity profile] jonquil.livejournal.com


This is sounding as wacked-out, in a different direction, as some of the YA Christian books that want to show you the Evils Of The World.

From: [identity profile] tekalynn.livejournal.com


Sounds utterly vile. Thank you for reading it so I don't have to.

ext_12512: Hinoe from Natsume Yuujinchou, elegant and smirky (Kanzeon-sama mercy)

From: [identity profile] smillaraaq.livejournal.com


What is the ridiculously implausible ending plot twist, for the sake of everyone who doesn't want to suffer through this whole thing just to see how bad it gets? XD

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


Nom is getting it on with the allergic brother, to the horror of Jonah, who shrieks that she was just eating pizza and her kisses might kill him.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


No, then... I may be getting the timeline confused, but I think Jonah then staggers out and collapses from osteomyelitis and lands in the hospital and then everything's fine.

From: [identity profile] thecityofdis.livejournal.com


Yeah, I read the summary and thought it sounded outrageously stupid. I also read a blog post somewhere on the interwebs by the author... and if I'd had any inclination to read her stuff, I would have lost it then.

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com


That part at least sounds somewhat plausible, if you'd spent your whole life being told that ingesting pretty much anything would kill you.
chomiji: A cartoon image of chomiji, who is holding a coffee mug and a book and wearing kitty-cat ears (Tenpou - bad book)

From: [personal profile] chomiji


And did you take a look at the reviews on that Amazon page? People think this book is wonderful ... >sigh<


From: [identity profile] tekalynn.livejournal.com


The author wrote the book in junior high. Perhaps this says something about the plot and characterization.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


Wow, really? I would say, "That explains a lot," except that all the other "awesomely bad" books weren't.

Good for her for actually finishing a novel at that age. Whatever its quality, that takes a level of dedication and persistence unusual in teenagers.

From: [identity profile] thomasyan.livejournal.com


Good point about finishing a novel.

*wonders* Do you think with guidance from an accomplished editor that a good book could have been salvaged from this? The only idea that immediately comes to my mind is to invent an alien race so that the biology of breaking bones makes sense and the weird attitudes can be blamed on an alien mindset. But that would be a rather different book....

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


I think it would have worked a lot better as a completely over the top satire or piece of magic realism or some other non-realistic genre.

From: [identity profile] mikeda.livejournal.com


Obviously Jonah and Jesse are the first male Vampire Slayers. For some reason they got the fast healing without the superstrength... :-)

From: [identity profile] lady-ganesh.livejournal.com


My impression when I saw the summary was that we'd find that there was some kind of hallucination/mental image angle to it. Which would also be a very different book.

From: [identity profile] thomasyan.livejournal.com


Books like this are why the editor should also be clearly stated, in addition to the author.

From: [identity profile] lepusdomesticus.livejournal.com


I've thought that myself...when I hate a book.

On a suspicion, reading this review, I looked up which publisher put this out and saw I'd guessed right--Simon Pulse. I've read two recent books from that imprint and loathed both--indeed one, Skin Hunger, was the most vile, despicable, awful book I'd ever read and I threw it across the room in rage and disgust before removing it from my house... but Rachel here loved it, so I admit opinions aren't universal. That being said, my bad experiences mean that I would not buy a new book (I say new because they also do paperback reprints of older books I like) put out by that particular publisher, unless it was highly recommended by someone whose opinion I absolutely trust.

But I don't know how many editors that imprint has or who they are. It could be it's just one editor who picks books I think are awful, and someone else there has tastes more like mine. Who knows?

From: [identity profile] pseudo_tsuga.livejournal.com


And of course there's no such thing as bone infection or complex fractures! I bet every single break is clean and complication-free.

(I can't believe I am actually getting angry from this, but my dad has a permanently broken leg thanks to those two things after someone shoved him into a sign skiing so it pisses me off to see it treated so cavalierly.)

From: [identity profile] tool-of-satan.livejournal.com


Teenage Jonah is on a quest to break every bone in his body, filmed by his friend Naomi (whose implausibilities as a character only begin with her nickname being "Nom") on the theory that they'll grow back stronger and thus demonstrate to his beyond-dysfunctional family that healing is possible.

How very Nietzchean.
maeve_of_winter: (Default)

From: [personal profile] maeve_of_winter


Veryyyyy belated comment, but I remember this book from my middle school days as a Hot Topic goth. I liked it then, but even a few aspects stuck out to me then, one of which you pointed out. The first was his weirdly absent parents. They were just so removed from their childrens' lives, particularly the infant's, to a degree that just stretch credibility. The second was the mental hospital volunteer being so inspired by Jonah (what, within a day of knowing him?) that she deliberately broke one of her bones. Even as an edgelord thirteen-year-old, I just rolled my eyes, because, really? Seriously? And the third was Jonah's infant brother just suddenly stopping his constant crying that the book continually emphasized with absolutely no explanation as of why.

As an adult, the most unrealistic part of it is Jonah's teachers not reporting his parents for his broken bones. I fully admit that I don't know a whole lot about how teachers report abuse, but I imagine any time a kid walks in with a cast, the teachers are asking question. And maybe, just maybe, the second time within a few months that the kid has a broken bone, the teachers will buy as bad luck, but the third time in a single semester? No way. Several of the teachers would probably report Jonah's parents for possible abuse, if only to keep their own jobs, if absolutely nothing else.

And that's really where the book falls apart. While I can appreciate Hannah Moscovitz for attempting to write a book about a male character coping with self-harm (it's all too often viewed as an issue that solely affects ~overemotional teenage gurlz~), this book stretched my willing suspension of disbelief far beyond its limits.
maeve_of_winter: (Default)

From: [personal profile] maeve_of_winter


Thanks for the response, especially on such an old entry!

If I'm remembering right, in the end, it wasn't even that teachers noticed Jonah's injuries and reported them. Naomi ran to the principal and told him (because women scorned, amirite?). Looking back, the book reminds of an idea a high school freshman would think of as super creative and original, only to have the flaws immediately pointed out the moment they brought it to an older audience.
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