Published by Delacorte Press on March 11th, 2014
Genres: science fiction, young adult
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Contemporary teen fiction with romance, secrets, scandals, and ESP from the author of Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn't Have).We weren't always like this. We used to be average New York City high school sophomores. Until our homeroom went for flu shots. We were prepared for some side effects. Maybe a headache. Maybe a sore arm. We definitely didn't expect to get telepathic powers. But suddenly we could hear what everyone was thinking. Our friends. Our parents. Our crushes. Now we all know that Tess is in love with her best friend, Teddy. That Mackenzie cheated on Cooper. That, um, Nurse Carmichael used to be a stripper. Since we've kept our freakish skill a secret, we can sit next to the class brainiac and ace our tests. We can dump our boyfriends right before they dump us. We know what our friends really think of our jeans, our breath, our new bangs. We always know what's coming. Some of us will thrive. Some of us will crack. None of us will ever be the same. So stop obsessing about your ex. We're always listening.
Well, that was… interesting. I’ve only ever read one other book by Sarah Mlynowski, and that was 10 Things We Did. I’m left with very much the same feelings from both books. They were okay while reading, fluffy and sometimes funny, but they were both sorely lacking in substance.
There were a few successful elements within Don’t Even Think About It that I want to touch on before I start in on the negative stuff, and the first is the “we” POV. I have never read from a plural first person perspective before and I have to say that I really loved it! I thought it was awesome and unique and it definitely worked for the story. For a little while it was difficult, but once I got used to this new perspective, it flowed perfectly and was so much fun.
I also enjoyed how realistically these teenage characters reacted to the trauma of suddenly hearing all the thoughts of those around you. There was no filter; these kids were hearing everything from test answers in class to their parents having sex. At times it was hilarious, of course, but it was also pretty uncomfortable. Also, the world didn’t end. They continued on being teenagers and making the decisions teens would make, which I found wholly refreshing. They didn’t try to save the world – no, they just wanted to ace exams, find out who liked who, and maybe win a few games of baseball. This down-to-earth feeling resonated with me and kept the story light and fluffy.
My main concern was that there was hardly any plot in Don’t Even Think About It. There were small plot arcs for most of the characters – a cheating girlfriend, does this boy like me?, overcoming crippling shyness. But there was no one story holding the entire thing together and moving everyone along. Mostly, it was just 24 kids getting to know one another better. And because these problems were so basic, there was no substance to really latch onto. Finally, despite what I said about the fun plural narrative, that actually might have gotten in the way of attaching to any of the characters. That, or they were just plain old flat – which I’m suspecting is definitely the case.
If you’re looking for cotton candy for the brain – sweet, sugary empty calories that do nothing to fill you up or provide nutrients, but are pretty awesome at the time of consumption – then by all means, pick this one up. But if you’re in the mood for something that delves deeper into the ethics and nuance of being able to hear others’ thoughts, than maybe this is a book to skip.