Book Review of 17 and Gone by Nova Ren Suma

Posted March 24, 2013 by Kara in Uncategorized / 21 Comments

Publisher: Dutton Children’s
Release Date: March 21st, 2013
Pages: 354
Genre: Young Adult-Paranormal thriller
Source: I won an ARC from LibraryThing

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Description from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Lauren is having visions of girls who have gone missing. And all these girls have just one thing in common—they are 17 and gone without a trace. As Lauren struggles to shake these waking nightmares, impossible questions demand urgent answers: Why are the girls speaking to Lauren? How can she help them? And… is she next? As Lauren searches for clues, everything begins to unravel, and when a brush with death lands her in the hospital, a shocking truth emerges, changing everything.

With complexity and richness, Nova Ren Suma serves up a beautiful, visual, fresh interpretation of what it means to be lost.

Review: I don’t really even know where to begin with this review. 4 days later and I am still feeling conflicted. There is no denying that Nova Ren Suma can write. It’s impressive. Her voice and word weaving is something that needs to be read to be understood. But…there are those books that everybody loves but you. And you understand why everybody loves them, but you are not one of those people because it didn’t connect with you the way it did with others. Well, that was 17 & Gone for me. 

I get all the positive reviews, I do, and I wish that I had felt the same way, but for me this book just felt very anticlimactic. And didn’t have much of a plot, to be honest. It was definitely more of a character-driven novel, but the thing is, the characters aren’t all that developed or memorable because there are so many of them. So many girls. So for me, all this book had going for it was the atmosphere and writing. And that part of it was VERY good. I just kept putting this book down and walking away from it because there was nothing that made me want to keep reading. I don’t expect a book to be completely plot-centric but with my lack of attention span these days, I need something to keep me flipping those pages.

I guess what I am saying is that this was just not the right book for me RIGHT NOW. Maybe months down the road and my brain is functioning better and not so distracted and I would have loved this. 

The other thing that didn’t really work for me was the ending. See, because based on the way the book was written, I was expecting this big reveal. I was expecting a shocker, and…it wasn’t. I remember writing in my status updates that I had no idea what was going on and I hated feeling in the dark, and yeah, that was the truth. Funny thing though is that that was only because I didn’t think it could possibly be that obvious. There was no twist because the answers are kind of exactly what you think they are. That was disappointing. 

I know it sounds like I hated this, but I didn’t. I just didn’t like how I couldn’t connect to the characters. But the writing was beautiful, and for someone who appreciates a writer who can weave a wonderful story in a voice and style all her own, this book really hit me in all the right places. It was poetic in its prose. It was meant to be savored. I think I really like the way Nova Ren Suma writes, and it’s worth it to try more of her work, but I’m not sure she’s the right author for me. That’s not me saying she isn’t talented though, because whoa, is she ever. 

3/5 Dragons

21 responses to “Book Review of 17 and Gone by Nova Ren Suma

  1. Aw, I love this book–I’m sorry you had somewhat more mixed feelings about it. I totally get why people have trouble with her books, though–they’re not plot-oriented at all, or even character-oriented. Normally that would drive me crazy, but I don’t know–somehow the way these are written just work for me. I’m glad you liked her writing, though!

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  2. Ooh, anticlimactic, boo. I so get what you’re saying though with the ending and not connecting to the characters. I’ve been back and forth on whether or not I want to read this one, but I think it’s now leaning more towards no. It’s hard to say. Although, I take my connection with characters very seriously 🙂 Love the review!

    Sunny @ Blue Sky Bookshelf

  3. Ah we don’t all connect with every book, otherwise it would be pretty predictable 😉 It’s hard to enjoy a book when you feel lost though. Still on the fence about this one, maybe….

  4. That’s too bad this one didn’t work for you right now … I totally understand the feeling. Some books just have to be read at the right time! I’ve heard awesome things about Nova Ren Suma .. I bought Dani Noir the other day and can’t wait to read it!

    Great review, Kara!

  5. Kara, this is exactly how I felt about Imaginary Girls! I loved the atmosphere, but the book lacked too much plot and I kept expecting a huge reveal and nothing came. I feel like a lot of readers love Suma’s writing and style, but it doesn’t work for me since I usually like conclusive endings and characters that are more concrete than obscure. :/ Anyway, thanks for the helpful review!(:

    • *high five* Review twins again! I’m gonna try Imaginary Girls because I’m curious about it, but if that is like this, maybe I should move on. Which makes me have a sad.

  6. Though I haven’t read this one yet, I think I felt similarly to Imaginary Girls (have you read that?). Like Keertana said, it was a bit underwhelming in terms of climax. As you said, Kara, Suma is a really strong writer and she has a great skill at creating a vivid, haunting setting. But at the same time, there’s a small something that’s lacking, and it makes all the difference.

  7. Amy

    I’m sorry this wasn’t really the book for you, but I get what you mean. Sometimes you read a book and you don’t really enjoy it much at the time, but at a different time and in a different mood you might have thought differently about it. That happens to me a lot actually. Now I have started putting aside books if I don’t think I’m in the right frame of mind to enjoy it the way I think I might be able to at another time. I have been hearing awesome things about this book and I do want to read it, but I can see why it didn’t work for you.

  8. “There was no twist because the answers are kind of exactly what you think they are. That was disappointing.”

    Um, wow. That really *IS* dissapointing :O
    I’m sorry you didn’t love it quite as much as you’d hoped, but still, I really loved your closing paragraph. Sometimes there’s a certain level of satisfaction knowing you’ve read a book from a talented author, even if it wasn’t for you ♥

  9. Sorry you didn’t like it, Kara. I’ve yet to read this and honestly, I wasn’t really planning to until so many gave it such high praises. I’m still not sure since I hate anticlimactic endings. The way you described her writing kinda reminds me of Victoria Schawb’s, especially since I finished the Archived the other day. She’s damn good but the other elements of her novel just didn’t do it for me.

    Great review, Kara.

  10. Hmmmm, I am definitely going to give 17 & Gone a try, because I am down for strong writing. But, I like plots a lot too. Sigh. Maybe this will be one of those I FINALLY HAVE DOWN TIME reads in May.

    • I hope you read it! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. She’s kind of polarizing as an author, I think. That said, I haven’t written her off yet. I still have Imaginary Girls to try.

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