Zoe Letting Go is Nora Price’s debut young adult book and my first impressions went just like this: “Interesting blurb…” and upon a closer inspection, “That’s pretty bad Photoshop on the cover. Huh.” But hey, Photoshop isn’t something you can easily use without constant practice combined with a good eye, dedication and a degree of perfectionism.
Anyway, despite being a Haruki Murakami fan, I don’t fancy the long and constant descriptions of everything. I know it adds texture but in here, it seems too much in one place. It would’ve probably been better to place them in a different paragraph—or casually throw in a few with every other action/conflict instead of just the flat-out “I’m-scanning-my-surroundings-so-I’ll-tell-you-every-minimum-detail” kind of thing. I also don’t like how this started out like it has been written like a teen fiction novel instead of a young adult one. The language is very simple in the beginning and it isn’t entirely consistent in terms of the usage of contractions and a character’s voice. The switches between letter-writing and normal narration doesn’t bring this story to justice either. Even though the plot flows, it isn’t as fluidly or as brilliantly as Stephen Chbosky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower or Haruki Murakami’s ‘A Window’ from The Elephant Vanishes. There should also be a distinct difference between the letters and the normal narration, but they just meld around each other here some times.
However, the above issues only applies to the beginning. As the story progresses, the writing improves and I cannot deny that I’m drawn into the plot and the reason for Zoe’s “incarceration”. This does covers the flatness of the other characters, but only during the first read perhaps. On the other hand, I have to say that the blurb is slightly misleading. I had expected more anger—more madness and unhinged-ness, but of course, it doesn’t reach that point. I’m also a little disappointed at the ending. I felt like there should be more on what truly happened to Zoe—to have the events put down on paper instead of having the readers speculate.