book review · books · shanti

A World Without You (ridiculously amazing)

So it has come to my attention that I never post negative reviews. This is mostly because all the books I read get at least three stars. (and PS, you can totally follow my goodreads account to read alll my reviews–my profile is private but I’ll accept your request) I had a hard time choosing which book to review this week because I had two five star reviews ready, but I ended up choosing A World Without You because it was so well written and had amazing characters and you never knew who to trust. I’ve read all of Revis’s other books, but this one just blows them out of the water.

27917964Seventeen-year-old Bo has always had delusions that he can travel through time. When he was ten, Bo claimed to have witnessed the Titanic hit an iceberg, and at fifteen, he found himself on a Civil War battlefield, horrified by the bodies surrounding him. So when his concerned parents send him to a school for troubled youth, Bo assumes he knows the truth: that he’s actually attending Berkshire Academy, a school for kids who, like Bo, have “superpowers.”

At Berkshire, Bo falls in love with Sofia, a quiet girl with a tragic past and the superpower of invisibility. Sofia helps Bo open up in a way he never has before. In turn, Bo provides comfort to Sofia, who lost her mother and two sisters at a very young age.

But even the strength of their love isn’t enough to help Sofia escape her deep depression. After she commits suicide, Bo is convinced that she’s not actually dead. He believes that she’s stuck somewhere in time — that he somehow left her in the past, and now it’s his job to save her.

 

So it’s not really a secret that the way Bo experiences the world is differently to how everyone around him does. He thinks that he has powers, and is learning how to use them at a superhero school; everyone else knows they’re at a school for mentally troubled youth. It would be very easy to dismiss Bo, to remember that it’s just delusions or whatever–but those delusions are at the heart of the novel. And they’re un-dismissable. I had total–if sad–faith in Bo, for his story was utterly compelling. I was drawn into his world. The thing is that Revis never says that what Bo is experiencing isn’t real. It’s real for him, and that makes him such a amazing character. The way that Revis’s writing wove around the story, the different versions of reality, was perfect. With the sporadic perspectives from Phoebe, I could see the different sides, and the way that the narrative functioned within the different understandings of reality was a) amazing b)very skilful and c) totally immersive for the readers. This is the most unique aspect of A World Without You, and I loved it.
Then there are the characters. I really liked them all. Phoebe was my favourite– perhaps because she reminds me of myself. Her reactions to her brother felt really honest–especially because I understand that this is partially based on Revis’s own life. I loved how her viewpoint filled out some of the holes in the story. Bo, of course, is our central character. I liked that he didn’t quite have a clear diagnosis. He’s so easy to root for–he’s alone, in love, confused, and suffering from flips in reality. His understanding of the world was shown so well, and as it gradually changed, as he became more aware of the holes in his existence, I rooted for him so hard. I loved the visualisation of the time stream that he saw, and the justification he gave himself for–well, for all sorts of things. His character development was perfect right up until the heart-hurting-somewhat-happy ending. I also liked Sofia, and how we got to know who she was. Her actions really shape the narrative, and they were written really well. JUST EVERYTHING IN THIS STORY FROM THE CHARACTERS TO THE REALITY WAS WRITTEN REALLY WELL OKAY?
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This fanart is very symbolic if you’ve read the book. L-R: Harold, Gwen, Bo, Ryan, Sofia

Revis, like I said, writes in layers. She’s found the balance between profound and meaningless, and profound and cheesy quite impressively. This story has plenty of quotable moments, but it’s also just a really good story. It’s about lots of things: heartbreak and friendship, trust and healing, new beginnings, and reality. I loved these thematic ideas, and I found that they really enriched the novel, without being too blatant. As the story goes on, you can’t quite be sure what’s happening, and Revis keeps you guessing to the very end, and beyond. I love that. Maybe, as Bo realises, there is magic, but it’s the magic of friendship, it’s the magic of trusting someone, of sacrificing yourself, of finding what is true (even if it’s not real). I loved how these ideas wend through the story, making it richer.
There aren’t really words for how amazing A World Without You is. I could identify with Phoebe in so many ways. In Bo’s struggle to save the one he loved, I found some truth about the nature of reality, and how we find peace. Please read this novel.

So are you going to read it? What’s the best book featuring mental disease that you’ve read lately?
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11 thoughts on “A World Without You (ridiculously amazing)

  1. I’ve seen some mixed reviews for this, so I am so glad that you enjoyed it so much! I am definitely going to have to give it a try. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and, as always, fabulous review! ❤

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  2. ohh I nEED THIS IMMEDIATELY. I kind of had it on my radar but wasn’t sure? So thank you. You’re very convincing.😂 I really like books about people with different realities or delusions…I just find it really interesting. I just read Highly Illogical Behaviour which is about social anxiety and I LOVED IT. And weirdly enough it has a super similar cover to this?!? Designers need to talk more obviously.😂

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    1. I’m always here to increase the length of your TBR haha. Made You Up was amazing, and this one is too–the different realities allow for a lot of cool storytelling techniques. I should try to read Highly Illogical Behaviour. The cover actually does make sense in the context of the book, but there are a lot I’ve seen with that sort of style.

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