Every Day by David Levithan (Galley)
Release Date: August 28, 2012
Genre: Fiction, young adult, romance, mind blown
Rating: 4.89 out of 5 stars
Summary: Every day A wakes up in a new body and every day A has a completely atypical life, going through the daily motions for someone else, never making attachments or causing waves or doing anything out of the ordinary. Until A meets Rhiannon and everything changes as the couple struggles with their impossible relationship and A’s ever changing body. Will what’s inside trump external perceptions or will A’s relationship crumble beneath the weight of their secret?
There are plenty of YA novels out there with great ideas: dystopias where characters fight to the death, are cured of love, and hold onto other’s memories, and romances that take place on giant living whales, in the far reaches of space, and inside arenas of death. David Levithan has taken these ideas and given us an unidentifiable genre, with a main character who wakes up every day in a completely different body. Holy mind fuck, Batman.
First, the basics. Our narrator/protagonist/poor tortured A has always woken up in a new body every day of his or her life. A can wake up as a woman or a man, which blows my mind about ideas of gender identity and makes using pronouns in this post as difficult as possible. Due to this strange life or un-life, A has creates a series of rules: respect the body, don’t mess up the host’s life or the consequences (mostly guilt based) will punish you. That is of course until A enters the body of Rhiannon’s boyfriend and falls head over heels in love. Love triangles, you have nothing on someone who wakes up in a random body every day. So no complaining that two different boys like you and you can’t decide which team you’re on!
In order to masquerade as these hosts/pods/meat suits, A is able to “access” basic information within the body’s mind. Relationships, actions, deeds, the basic essentials. Unfortunately, special talents and abilities don’t come with the new territory, so if Susie seems to have forgotten how to play the oboe, chances are A is her for the day. And forget being able to speak foreign languages, that’s a no go too. There really are more cons than pros in A’s situation. Especially when every midnight at clockwork A falls asleep and wakes up the next day in a completely new person. No dirty sexual innuendo intended.
As if these self-imposed rules weren’t enough and A didn’t strive to keep these strangers’ lives on the right path, A also doesn’t skip around to the bodies of the rich and famous or get to jet set around the world. Instead, A always wakes up in a body of someone roughly the same age in the same area or town. The only time there’s a change of scenery is when the body A inhabits moves to a different location.
For example, A can’t relax in the sunny Virgin Islands unless A inhabits the body of someone heading to a vacation in the Virgin Islands. After which at midnight A will hop to another person in the same area. Confusing much? Get used to it, it’s only going to get trickier from here.
With a book this out of the box, my mind couldn’t stop buzzing with questions. Deep scientific questions that my poor little English major brain just could not process. Thoughts that alter all my perceptions about gender, genetics, and sexual orientation. Trust me, I haven’t thought this many deep philosophical thoughts since I read Robin Wasserman’s Skinned trilogy (or whatever it’s called now) and spent endless nights wracked with fear about my own mortality. I would still like my awesome robot body now please. If that’s not an endorsement, I don’t know what is.
Questions Cassie-la’s Literary Minded Brain Cannot Compute:
- How does A gain a personality? If you’re shaped by your surroundings and nothing is constant, how was A shaped?
- When do you become you? When do you gain a sense of self? How can A do this?
- When did time start being perceived by A? You can’t remember not existing so when does this awareness of existence begin?
- Will A continuing existing infinitely? What happens when A reaches an impossible age? Does he or she cease to exist? Or is A just forced to be a geriatric for all eternity?
- How did A even come into being? Not in a normal sense surely? Was there a beginning? A cosmic joining of sperm and egg?
I can’t even begin to answer these questions so I’ll let you ponder their different meanings and possible answers. I’m sure science could lend some sort of helping hand here. Where are you science people, I need your analytical fact filled brains!?!
So now onto the fun stuff, the journey A experiences from Day 5994 to Day 6034. No chapter titles here. In that span of time, A is 40 different people, including a nameless junkie, twins James and Tom, depressed/suicidal Kelsea, gorgeous Ashley, diabetic AJ, mean-spirited Vanessa, working Surita, hungover Dana, metal kid Michael, transgendered Vic, grandfather-less Marc, overweight Finn, and broken bones Kasey to name a few. Okay, to name 13, stop asking for so many specifics.
In that time, A also meets the girl who changes everything (aforementioned above). A can sense that her boyfriend Justin — whose body is A’s vehicle that day — and Rhiannon don’t have the most stable, loving relationship and due to a strong attraction to her, strives to give her one good day to remember in a stretch of unmemorable days.
A breaks the rules and falls madly in love with her, tracking her down in a couple new bodies: pretending to be a girl transferring schools and someone’s gay cousin at a party to be near her. If A didn’t flit from body to body, this would be slightly creepier — stalkerish even. Things go awry when one of these bodies wakes up at midnight after being taken to a party against his will and claims that he was possessed by a demon, a fact which he blabs to all the tabloids about. Whoops.
Cons with A’s dilemma are obviously the inability to make strong relationships or lasting ties with people, having any semblance of one’s own life, and the emotional pain that comes with those hurdles. Thankfully, in this technological age, A can at least have an email account, an online journal of sorts to store memories.
And just to make this post slightly less depressing, there are some pros to A’s arrangements. Specifically the ability to see more of the world and experience all different kinds of lives, taking in different facets of religions, races, and family structures that would be impossible to experience otherwise. This is positive of course if we assume that the majority of people’s lives are happy ones. Optimism! I haz it.
-Completely original and inventive
-Mind blowing thoughts to process, all you scientific minds take note!
-Believable relationship and believable characters that I cared about
-Hard to define genre, and there’s never anything wrong with that
-Ouchies, my brain hurts
I definitely have to give props to David Levithan for this amazingly inventive book. It’s not often a YA author gives me pause and makes me think, although there are quite a few who belong in the same category, specifically: Scott Westerfeld, John Green, and Robin Wasserman. So bravo David for creating a believable, engrossing book that had me scratching my noggin. Or whatever you kids these days call them.