3 Things About This Book : Neurodiverse Main Character | Hopeful and Disney-like | Starts with a Bang! |
As with some readers, Almond would’ve slipped my radar had it not been for Yoongi and Namjoon being spotted reading it on In the Soop. I was excited to have another Korean literature title available for me to read in English and immediately added this book to my TBR. Though, it stayed there for months until I decided that finally, yes, I need to read this.
Now that I’m done with it, I’m sad to write that Almond is not the book for me.
The main things I like about this book are the overall hopeful tone, and the friendship between Yunjae and Gon. Everything else was too….conflicting, convenient, and just….Disney-like. I had expected more angst and realism to this, considering the neurodiverse main character.
The story starts with a bang; the first part is dark, unflinching and heartbreakingly filled with desperation for normality. It’s an introduction that unfailingly grips, showing a contrast between Yunjae’s mother who does her best every day to ensure her son is as ordinary as possible so he would not be alienated, and Yunjae himself who cannot understand emotions and thus, does not care. The plot gets pretty convenient after, and I found the romance quite unnecessary too. Like, why does it need to be a girl who teaches the main character “flowers and scents, breezes and dreams”? That’s just typical—more so since the girl’s a manic pixie dream girl whose importance doesn’t extend past a part. Personally, I’d rather read about Gon and Yunjae discovering those flowers, scents and all while their friendship grows instead of Gon being put in the backburner for Dora to leave her impact on Yunjae. I also feel that this gap caused by Dora momentarily replacing Gon in helping Yunjae gain emotions has lessened the power of the story.
Moreover, the way Yunjae’s condition ‘improves’ after he falls in love, the way he “becomes human” after an act of self-sacrifice is a little too much. While I understand that this is (possibly) done because those emotions are powerful and as a result, will have greater impact, it’s also unrealistic. Yunjae took such a long time to even begin to comprehend emotions and which are suitable for what situation. To have him suddenly feel ‘appropriate’ emotions in specific moments after having met certain characters, gives his previous struggles a disingenuous feel to them.
The way people easily open up to Yunjae is something I’m on the fence about. On one hand, some people spill their life stories to others without a second thought, whether for the sake of gaining a sympathetic ear, advice or whatever. On the other, so many opening up, one after the other, makes it feel convenient. Even those who are reluctant and gradually open up end up feeding that feeling of convenience since just about everyone does it without difficulty.
As mentioned above, this book is not one for me. I’ve always been fascinated by the theme of humans VS monsters, and did like the way it’s executed through Yunjae (a monster because he lacked something that made him human) and Gon (a boy who turned himself into a monster because others saw him as such). However, it’s not enough. I wanted more. Even though reading a book like that will just hurt more, I still wanted less convenience, more hardships and an uninterrupted consistency between parts 1, 2 and 4, and part 3.