Everything I Thought I Knew | ARC Review

Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoka

Everything I Thought I Knew Book Cover

Published: October 13th, 2020

Pages: 320

Format: eBook ARC

Tags: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

| Synopsis from the Publisher |

Seventeen-year-old Chloe had a plan: work hard, get good grades, and attend a top-tier college. But after she collapses during cross-country practice and is told that she needs a new heart, all her careful preparations are laid to waste.

Eight months after her transplant, everything is different. Stuck in summer school with the underachievers, all she wants to do now is grab her surfboard and hit the waves—which is strange, because she wasn’t interested in surfing before her transplant. (It doesn’t hurt that her instructor, Kai, is seriously good-looking.)

And that’s not all that’s strange. There’s also the vivid recurring nightmare about crashing a motorcycle in a tunnel and memories of people and places she doesn’t recognize.

Is there something wrong with her head now, too, or is there another explanation for what she’s experiencing?

As she searches for answers, and as her attraction to Kai intensifies, what she learns will lead her to question everything she thought she knew—about life, death, love, identity, and the true nature of reality.

| Book Review |

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Candlewick Press through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Describing This Book in Adjectives: Compelling, Intriguing, Plot-Twist

Okay, so I’m writing this review well after the fact of reading it. I’ve been a bit behind on my reviews, but I’m here now to tell you about what I thought about Everything I Thought I Knew which has since been published.

Firstly, this book has such strong appeal – a girl who survives a health crisis, receives a heart transplant, but then begins experiencing a recurring, vivid nightmare and memories of people and places she doesn’t recognize. She takes up surfing and begins falling for her attractive instructor. I mean, this sounds super compelling, right? A survival story coupled with a love story. And for 80% of the book, it is totally compelling and intriguing!

But then the last 20% totally sweeps the rug right from under you. I mean, I began to question my original feelings for this book, began wondering if I actually really like this book anymore. And that’s just sad. One plot twist and the book felt…ruined for me. I cannot go into details without spoiling the book, so I will limit myself to some more adjectives: open-ended, bittersweet, heartbreaking.

I wonder, now, having read the book, what to categorize it as. It begins as a totally realistic contemporary story, and yes, the recurring nightmares and the idea of potentially experiencing memories/feelings from the person whose heart you now have is a bit sci-fi, but once you get to the end of this book…I have no idea what the frame of this story is, because it is not quite realistic fiction and it’s not entirely sci-fi/fantasy. And that is frustrating for me.

The cover is gorgeous. I feel I have to say this, at least. It’s one of the reasons I felt really compelled to pick up this book in the first place. I mean, sheer perfection in color, artwork, typography. It’s one of my favorite covers for this year.

I will say that the characters are well developed. I really like Chloe and Kai. Their connection is really strong. Takaoka takes the time to develop them as individuals and that makes their bond seem that much stronger when they are together. The romance is one of the best and worst things about this book. It kills me that I can’t say why without spoiling this book.

My Verdict:

Ok, But Not My Cup of Tea

This book was a bit of a let down, for me. I hate how much I loved this book starting out and that this love got completely derailed by the plot twist. It also doesn’t feel like a book that I could easily suggest to people, because it’s complicated by the plot twist. I wouldn’t be able to be completely open without spoiling it, and I don’t want to mislead anyone, which is how I felt when I finally did read this book: mislead.

Suffice it to say that I think you will either love or hate this book depending on how you feel about the plot twist. You’ll only know if you read the book. So, at your own peril, read this book.

Gif of Michael Scott from the Office making a strained face.
Me, trying to decide if I should suggest this book.

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