Title: AS YOU WISH
Author: Chelsea Sedoti
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
ARC?: Yes, provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 1/2/18
TW/CW: ace/arophobia, suicide attempt, violence.
In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.
Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself.
I think I have finally accepted that Chelsea Sedoti’s books just aren’t for me. I struggled through THE HUNDRED LIES OF LIZZIE LOVETT (Review here) and while I didn’t have the exact same problems with AS YOU WISH in finishing it, the story was… uncomfortable and confusing.
I’ve seen other reviews where they talk about Eldon being an asshole. He is. He’s written that way, and I generally like unlikeable characters. Eldon was not my problem with this story. He was a kid who grew up in a very strange house and is dealing with extreme grief following his younger sister’s accident. I think all of his actions and the way he acted on page (we’re only told that he used to be an asshole who was full of himself) was justifiable. Including his belief that Norie liked him. I know this is supposed to be a moment of “oh, yeah, Eldon totally thinks EVERYONE wants him” but I actually thought Norie liked him as more than a friend, too.
There is also Queerphobic content in the book. One of the characters decides that he wants to wish his homosexuality away. I think Sedoti tried to redeem herself by saying that the feelings didn’t go away but she drops the ball when the character is not longer interested in sex/romance… which apparently makes him a sad and pitiful character that everyone should feel sorry for. As if ace/aro people don’t exist. I was deeply uncomfortable with Sedoti’s use of the “wish the gay away” because there’s also deep seeded Christianity in this book. Norie is the only character in the book who believes in God and she is also written as the best, most honest, most caring character in the entire story.
There is a suicide attempt in the book by a character that was bullied by Eldon. In fact, the last conversation the character and Eldon has is the one that pushes the character over the edge. After someone wishes him back, he returns to school and is continuously said to look like a corpse.
I think the author wasn’t sure what the message was supposed to be. Half of the book is about not playing God and the other half is about playing God. The ending was extremely weak and felt rushed. It was as if the author wasn’t sure herself how to end the book.
My final thought on this book is that it tried way too hard to be Nightvale. A secret town in the desert with a magic cave that grants wishes? Please.
I would not recommend this book.