Dan & Rider’s Rectifiable, Revisionist History High School Adventure

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“Essentially, I viewed life from the opposite direction as everyone else. My future was
their past and their past my future, so while others perceived events in light of what
had happened, I perceived them in light of what would happen.”

Have you ever felt some sort of spiritual force pulling you in a different direction? Perhaps changing the way you style your hair in the morning? Or how about pouring orange juice on your breakfast cereal to brighten up the day? For Dan Franklin things have not been of the normal sort lately. Well, everybody hates him at school, that remains the same, he’s leading of an unremarkable life is still well in tact and his level of despondency remains at a high level. Everything seems normal. Then what is making him behave so strangely,? So unaware? So caring? So involved? And for him to act this way after what he just did, he really has a lot of nerve.

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The Young Adult genre is generally one I shy away from when it comes to my literary next-book-up queue. I find the YA subject matter to be overtly and unnecessarily immature, the day-to-day events and the people involved to be cringe worthy, and the complexities that I enjoy are absent. It doesn’t mean I haven’t read some good YA novels. I have read and enjoyed quite a few such as: King of the Screwups, The Fault In Our Stars, Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time and one of my favourites happens to be John Green’s Paper Towns. I enjoy smart, unique, and complex characters. Often times I find that in YA books the characters espouse the typical teenage vernacular throughout the whole book. It becomes tiring and warrants a yawn, I can feel whatever bit of IQ I have dropping considerably during these exchanges. With this book I felt the intentions of the author were in the right place the execution on the other hand was lacking. The creativity and thoughtfulness definitely goes without saying, it’s just that the secondary features needed more polish and preparation. Part of the problem with the whole “backwards” flow of information was that you are aware of outcomes to situations, and when the character experiences the preceding event it makes reading the rest of the section somewhat redundant. Of course you learn more about the characters stories and their thought processes but to know what encouraged certain events to unfold didn’t live up to my heightened expectations. One aspect I did like was how Rider’s predictions influence how he is going to handle the day and correct a situation. However; at these times his conscience overrides his plan and he ends up experiencing the same conclusions as Dan, just in a different way. Rider has left personal messages etched in Dan’s bedroom wall beneath his calendar. These messages are a mystery to him as he is unsure if they are for him or a reminder for Dan. This feature kind of reminds me of a teenage version of Christopher Nolan’s Memento. I also appreciated Rider’s and Dan’s appreciation of unconventional beauty at a time when if you are not popular or a cheerleader you are not worth the time.

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“It’s like other girls are roses or daisies or daffodils. They’re pretty but ordinary,
Cat’s something else entirely. She’s an Orchid growing in a swamp. You could
spend your whole life never knowing the Orchids there. But once you see her,
nothing ever looks the same.”

If you travel backwards long enough all wounds heal. Starting from the end and working your way back to where the trouble began. That is the purpose of this story and proves to be one where knowing the end doesn’t necessarily mean your abilities to make things right have the anticipated results. So complex, so multi-layered, so many ways the story can go, it’s reminiscent of a true blue, real life choose your adventure from when you were a kid. If this is the future of video gaming, be very, very afraid.

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I really felt Dan’s pain as I experienced a lot of the same high school coming of age situations minus a couple instances that I will not spoil here and now. Social isolation, resentment of the expectations that popularity brings, feelings of Frankenstein’s monster, the secret lives of parents, free wheeling accusations and fitting in rather than branching out. I wasn’t a fan of his treatment of family but I liked how he fought for what he believed in and made his decisions according to what he thought was right. In the land of conformity, it is easy for the lesser popular students to non-conform. I mean what other choice do they have than to embrace their differences. But for an athletic, smart, handsome, and popular dude like Dan to resent the powerful sway of conformity it took a lot of guts and courage that I greatly admired. Young adults should read this book, older people should further investigate to see if it is worth the buy.

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“Everyone concealed a secret self that no one else knew. During the time between
classes, eyeglasses got crushed beneath feet. Notes were exchanged. Drugs changed
hands. Some people were shoved or kicked. Others hugged. Some said yes. Others,
no. So much could happen in a minute, in a second even- moments of kindness and
cruelty, declarations of love and loneliness, possibilities found and lost- while people
walked by, fumbling in their own self-conscious world’s.”

 

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