Monday, June 5, 2017

Review: The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon


Title: The Sun Is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: November 1, 2016
Format: E-Book

Page Count: 348

Rating: 

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true? (taken from goodreads.com)


"We are capable of big lives. A big history. Why settle? Why choose the practical thing, the mundane thing?
We are born to dream and make the things we dream about."

Fair warning: This review ended up being much longer than I thought it would. I guess I had a lot of thoughts about this one...

After enjoying Nicola Yoon's Everything Everything, I moved The Sun Is Also a Star up on my to-read list. I'd always heard good things about it, and I figured it was time I gave it a shot. I'd never read a book about illegal immigrants living in America, and before you say that makes me sound really ignorant, remember that I mostly stick to fantasy young adult novels. Still, I wanted to give this subject (and Nicola's second novel) a shot, so I delved into Daniel and Natasha's world.

This is one of those books that switches points of view every chapter. Each chapter is fairly short, just a brief look into the world of the narrator. At first, I found the story-telling style a little jolting, and I wished Yoon would spend a little more time with each of her chapters. Eventually, I got used to the constant switching back and forth. However, I did find the first 100 pages or so to be relatively boring. Not much happens, and what with all of the POVs switching constantly, I felt like it took a quite awhile for the story to really get rolling.

I found Natasha and Daniel's relationship really interesting (if a little unbelievable), mostly because the characters seem so different from one another. Natasha is a self-declared realist, and she barely even believes in the concept of romantic love. In fact, she believes the only ingredients of "love" are "mutual self-interest and socioeconomic compatibility." Daniel, on the other hand, starts dreaming of a life with Natasha soon after meeting her. Daniel is a vanilla-caramel latte, and Natasha is a cup of black coffee.

Okay, here's where I really start to explain why I gave the book such a low rating:

Can I just point out right now that their romance is a rampant case of insta-love? Seriously, both of them are thinking about how much they want to fall in love within an hour of meeting each other. If Natasha is really supposed to be a cynical realist, then would she really be thinking "I know there's no such thing as meant-to-be, and yet here I am wondering if maybe I've been wrong"? That's a complete 180 from where she was moments before meeting Daniel. Daniel says he's "becoming a Natasha expert" after TWO HOURS. I don't like books that paint goofy pictures of love, and I really hate it when authors whimsically mold their characters to fit whatever situation they're currently writing.

I'll admit that I enjoyed Daniel's chapters more than Natasha's, mostly because he's a more positive character in general and Natasha's constant need to talk like a scientist rubbed me the wrong way. Seriously, that girl can crush pretty much any joy in a statement. Career dreams? Stupid. Love? Nonexistent. Faith in God? Dumb. I rolled my eyes are her pessimism too many times to count. It's like Yoon was trying a little too hard to paint a character unlike other romantic YA heroines. Plus, she's selfish. The man she's been hoping to speak with gets in a car accident and is hospitalized, and the first thing she says is "But we have an appoint now. I really need him to help me." ?!?! No "Is he okay?" or "I'm sorry to hear that." She also makes fun of Daniel constantly for doing normal things like saying "I'm starving." Sorry, but I just couldn't bring myself to like Natasha, even if she was just going through a rough time.

I know a lot of people really appreciated how Yoon addresses the subject of immigration and bi-cultural characters, and sure, maybe she did do an okay job with that, but honestly, it wasn't the main point of the story. In fact, any good social points she made were swallowed up by the unbelievability of Natasha and Daniel.

Like some other people said, I didn't really like the random interjections about the history of hair or some scientific explanation about human behavior. They jolted me straight out of the story, and after a while, I started skipping them all together.

So, why give this book two stars if I disliked it that much? Well, I hate giving one star reviews simply because that must mean that would mean the book was unreadable. The Sun Is Also a Star was definitely readable, and at times, I even considered giving it three stars because Yoon really is good with words. Plus, some kudos is due to Yoon for addressing racism between non-white groups. However, I just couldn't look past the insta-romance and wishy washy characters.

I know my opinion is probably an unpopular one, but I really just don't see why so many people fell completely head-over-heels for The Sun Is Also a Star.