Dying to Know You

Title: Dying to Know You
Author: Aidan Chambers
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2012
Pages: 275
Genre: Contemporary
Source: library
Rating: 3/5

Summary from Goodreads- Karl, aged seventeen, is hopelessly in love. But the object of his affections, Firella, demands proof, and poses him a series of questions regarding his attitude to the many sides of love. But Karl is dyslexic, and convinced that if Firella finds out, she will think he is stupid, and unworthy of her, and leave him.

So Karl asks a local writer to help him construct his replies – and an unlikely, but extremely touching, friendship develops between the two men. They both come to learn a great deal about about life from a very different perspective, and when an act of violence shatters their calm, they find their respective appraisal of life shifting in profound ways.

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I was reluctant to read this because This is All is one of my all-time favorite books. I suppose normally the release of a book by a favorite author would be exciting, but I have had too many experiences where I read a book by a particular author, really like it, and then when I read their other works find that nothing else can live up to that one book. Sadly, it appears Aidan Chambers is another one of those authors for me.

I took a chance on this book because the premise seemed interesting, creative, and romantic; the perfect combination. However, the book simply didn’t live up to the excitement and intrigue promised by the premise.

I think the thing that most threw me off about this book was the fact that the narrator was the 75 year-old writer who Karl goes to to help him write his letters to Fiorella. Since the book is categorized as YA, that was just surprising to me. I also don’t really like books when the narrator is telling someone else’s story, as the mysterious unnamed writer was telling Karl’s. It makes me feel like I’m peeking into someone’s private life.

I felt there were some flaws in the narration as well. The reader would lose big chunks of time when Karl or his mother didn’t call Mystery Man (the writer), and I felt like that stilted the plot and kept it from moving forward at times. I really didn’t connect to the narrator, and the whole time I wished Chambers had chosen Karl or Fiorella for the narrator instead. There was something about Mystery Man’s voice that also kept me from liking the book. His voice was dry, but in a boring sort of way, not in a gritty or humorous way.

In short, I really just didn’t like the book and was rather disappointed by it. The summary made it sound much more romantic and intriguing than it actually was, and the 75 year-old narrator didn’t appeal to me at all.

I would advise other fans of Chambers’ YA works to steer clear of this one; it will only disappoint.

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