I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Published by HarperTeen on September 2, 2014
Source: the publisher
This emotional, hilarious, devastating, and ultimately triumphant YA debut, based on actual events, recounts one girl’s rejection of her high school’s hierarchy—and her discovery of her true self in the face of tragedy.
Fall’s buzzed-about, in-house favorite.
Outside, Anika Dragomir is all lip gloss and blond hair—the third most popular girl in school. Inside, she’s a freak: a mix of dark thoughts, diabolical plots, and, if local chatter is to be believed, vampire DNA (after all, her father is Romanian). But she keeps it under wraps to maintain her social position. One step out of line and Becky Vilhauer, first most popular girl in school, will make her life hell. So when former loner Logan McDonough shows up one September hotter, smarter, and more mysterious than ever, Anika knows she can’t get involved. It would be insane to throw away her social safety for a nerd. So what if that nerd is now a black-leather-jacket-wearing dreamboat, and his loner status is clearly the result of his troubled home life? Who cares if the right girl could help him with all that, maybe even save him from it? Who needs him when Jared Kline, the bad boy every girl dreams of, is asking her on dates? Who?
Anatomy of a Misfit is Mean Girls meets The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Anika’s hilariously deadpan delivery will appeal to readers for its honesty and depth. The so-sad-it’s-funny high school setting will pull readers in, but when the story’s dark foreboding gradually takes over, the devastating penultimate tragedy hits like a punch to the gut. Readers will ride the highs and lows alongside funny, flawed Anika — from laughter to tears, and everything in between.
Anatomy of a Misfit was an oddball book (in a good way!!!) that sunk its teeth into me and refused to let me go. No, I know I’ve said that a few times about a few books but I really mean it for this one. Like, I read this book in about 6 – maybe 7 – hours. One sitting. I put it down once for dinner, but I had only read 6 pages so that doesn’t count. So yeah, (basically) one sitting. 6-7 hours. Done. I can’t remember the last time I read a book that quickly.. High school, maybe? Or possibly my sophomore year of community college. So, a long time. This book made me laugh, made me cringe and tugged at my heartstrings. It was raw, honest and real and the author never held back, no matter how gruesome or horrifying something was. There were definitely some parts that were painful to read and some parts (like some of the language used by certain characters) that disgusted me, but the overall story was.. Epic.
Anika was such a twisted character. Self-deprecating and self-conscious. She had such a dark, sarcastic sense of humor, too. The narrative was a bit odd and I had to adjust to it, but once I did, I felt like I was having a conversation with Anika… Or reading her diary. Or even living it with her. I loved that Anika wasn’t perfect and she definitely wasn’t a goody goody. It was actually kind of refreshing to have a character with so many flaws. And because of the nature of the story, you can see such a stark contrast from her being a flawed character in the beginning, to being broken near the end, to being a changed person with a new attitude at the very end.
Logan was a character with so much depth, so much more to him than we saw. We barely scratched the surface with Logan and what his life was like. He was completely upfront and honest about his intentions and he didn’t play games. It was clear he truly cared for Anika. But he also had his moments where he scared me, though he had his reasons, thanks to a troubled home life. And then that ending… I wasn’t expecting that AT ALL! I mean, I figured SOMETHING was going to happen but… not that. I was basically sobbing by the end of the book. I was shocked. Broken. Dumbfounded…
And then there’s Jared. Jared was… I don’t even know if I can describe what he was. He wasn’t exactly complex, but it was hard to figure out his motives. One second I trusted him, the next I was calling him a jerk-face for something he said or did. And yes, technically he made this a love triangle. But it was so well done and it perfectly reflected the story and Anika’s conflicted feelings over being herself and being popular.
There were a lot of stereotypical cliches in this book – for obvious reasons; it was a huge part of the book and the lessons learned. Becky was the stereotypical mean girl/bully; Shelli was the stereotypical second-in-command, who valued her friendship with Anika but also didn’t want to end up on the mean girl’s bad side. Anika’s family was full of so many stereotypes, I don’t even know where to begin. Mr. Baum was the creepy, racist boss. And even just the town they lived in was portrayed as being small-minded, with Anika’s “vampire” dad being the voice of reason, the person insisting she “Do well and get out of that place.”
As cliche as the book was, as full of horrible things as it was, it did an amazing job of being sarcastic and making fun of itself, which lessened the harshness of some of the harsher material. It doesn’t make some of the things that were said and done okay, but it balanced out the bad to a certain extent.
Anatomy of a Misfit was the perfect example of standing by while someone is being bullied and doing nothing about it. Also, of valuing popularity over doing the right thing. It happens everyday – kids are bullied relentlessly and no one wants to stand up for them because they don’t want to be thrown to the wolves. They know if they try to speak up or protect the bullied party, they’ll also get bullied. But this has to change. Sometimes not speaking up and not stopping a bully is worse than BEING the bully.
Words can hurt. Bullying can hurt. You can’t judge someone when you don’t know them, because as the quote above shows, everyone has their share of problems. You can’t know what someone is going through just by looking at them.
Some of my favorite quotes from Anatomy of a Misfit (Please Note: These quotes came from the ARC. They might be slightly different in the final copy of the book and may be on slightly different pages):
“More than anything, I just feel bad. We shoulda done something. We shoulda tried to defend her.” — Page 35 (ARC)
“It sucks because all anybody has to do is just say something once, and then everybody just assumed it’s true.” — Page 41 (ARC)
“Does he think I’m involved in this constant humiliation? …. Am I?” — Page 64 (ARC)
“Can you imagine going to school every day and getting shoved around, your books knocked down on a daily basis?” — pg 66 (ARC)
“…Sometimes these things you say hurt people … a lot more than you think..” — Page 273 (ARC)
As mentioned a little bit earlier, the ending of this book was a punch to the gut. It was horrible and tragic and sad, but it also led to Anika’s biggest realization/life-changing moment. I’m emotionally exhausted from this amazing book. There were so many moments where I could relate to one or more characters. It brought up a lot of nasty memories that I’d rather forget, but it also teaches some important lessons.
This book could be considered a trigger book for some people, but if you can tolerate the material, it’s a must must MUST read.
With that all being said, I want to leave you with this song. The video is a bit.. different. But the song is VERY fitting. It’s relevant to the book – and it’s something we all need to remember/keep in mind. Enjoy.