Neal Schusterman does not disappoint in this YA paranormal/supernatural novel about a teenager with a rather unfortunate ability (gift? curse?) of leeching pain out of those around him, and making it his own. He takes this interesting plot point and weaves it into a thought-provoking story about love, sacrifice, betrayal, and responsibility that makes you question what you’d be willing to take on for those you love.
One of the most interesting aspects of this novel is that the point of view alternates between two sibling pairs — Brew, the introverted protagonist; Cody, his reckless younger brother; Bronte, Brew’s enthusiastic and optimistic girlfriend; and Tennyson, Bronte’s brother and Brew’s reluctant friend. Oftentimes, multiple points of view become confusing, but Schusterman differentiates between these characters with different writing styles for each, my personal favorite being Brew’s free-verse chapters. The styles fit each character perfectly, and really demonstrated more about the character than the author could have told simply using narration or dialogue. True, the characters are a bit shallow, self-centered, or just plain ridiculous at times, but this was done in a way that still made them realistic, and they grew and matured through their experiences. The end may have been a teeny bit cheesy, but I liked it and thought it was exactly how it should have concluded; I definitely felt for the characters and wanted them to have a happy ending.
I’ll definitely be recommending this book to others; I enjoyed it a lot!