Book Review: Every Day by David Levithan

every day cover

The cover of Every Day has caught my eye every time I go to the bookstore, and I finally found the time to give it a read. The only other book by David Levithan I had read was Will Grayson, Will Grayson (a collaboration with John Green), which I loved. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about this book. The premise of the story is very original, but it failed to live up to my expectations.

The book is narrated by A, who is basically a soul that changes bodies every day. One day A is a boy named Justin, the next A is a girl named Zara. (A is described as being both genders and neither gender so I will just refer to A as A. Sorry if this gets annoying.) A doesn’t know why it happens. All that is certain is that each day A wakes up in the body of someone who is approximately 16 years old and lives nearby (the bodies all tend to be within 4 hours of one another). A is in control of A’s mind, but sometimes A’s thoughts are dependent on the body being inhabited (someone hung-over, depressed, addicted to drugs, etc.). A can access the person’s memory and must live their life for a day: go to their school, take their tests, and go on their dates. Usually, A tries to interfere as little as possible, so as not to ruin the person’s life. But this changes when A meets Rhiannon, while in the body of her boyfriend, and falls in love with her.

I have to say that the only thing I liked about this book was its exploration of the differences between people’s lives. By making A inhabit different bodies, Levithan was able to narrate several short stories about certain kinds of people: a drug addict, transgender person, obese person, and someone about to commit suicide. We get short glimpses into their lives and learn lessons from them. However, I think this exploration would have been more successful as a book of short stories, because the way Levithan tied all of the lives together was ridiculous.

The only thing that is constant about A’s life is Rhiannon. Every day A is in a different place with a different family. But A can’t stop thinking about Rhiannon. A follows her, which has bad consequences, and after awhile tells her the truth. Somehow Rhiannon believes A and decides to keep meeting up whenever possible. The book follows their relationship, as well as a religious witch-hunt trying to reveal A as a demonic possessor.

every day quoteFirst of all, the rules narrating A’s existence are not explained at all and are simply there for convenience. Why does A only travel to bodies within a certain distance? So A can meet up with Rhiannon easily. Why does A switch bodies every single day? So A can’t have a “real” relationship with Rhiannon, creating the tension for the story. Why can A access the memories of every person being inhabited? So A can find the keys to their car and drive to Rhiannon, as well as access their computers to e-mail her. I can understand having rules to govern a situation like A’s (it is pretty sci-fi after all), but Levithan needed to at least come up with a reason for these rules. After awhile it was easy to overlook his laziness, but it was still annoying.

Second of all, the relationship between A and Rhiannon is not believable at all. Rhiannon is your typical YA girl: perfectly imperfect and misunderstood, but only A can see past her sad eyes to see the “true” her. A falls in love with her at first sight, but it’s not really explained why. A stalks her, tells her the truth, and expects her to drop everything for their relationship. And for a while, she does. It’s very improbable that a sixteen-year-old girl would meet up with a complete stranger who claims to be what A is. And it’s even more unrealistic for her to skip school for days in a row to find A wherever A happens to be that day. The whole thing seemed like a ridiculous excuse to tell a love story.

I might have been able to get past the plot holes and unrealistic characters if the writing had been spectacular. But it wasn’t. Levithan has a way of telling rather than showing, especially when it comes to promoting important issues (being transgender, gay, depressed, etc.). I’m glad that those issues were being addressed, but I wanted it to be a bit more subtle and symbolic. Instead, the book read like a love story with PSAs stuck into it.

Ultimately, Every Day had a lot of potential, but not a lot of substance. I think the premise and characters could have been much better developed. I was really excited for this book, but ended up disappointed.

My rating: 

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