I received this book for free (hey, thanks!) in exchange for an honest review. I promise that this does NOT affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. For real.All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Published by Harper Collins on May 15th 2018
Format: ARC (432 pages) • Source: Borrowed
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Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.
Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.
Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .
Initial Excitement & Summary
I struggled with THE UNSCRIPTED JOSS BYRD because the main character was too young for me. It read like a middle grade, which I don’t read very often, so I decided to put it aside. However, when I saw ALL OF THIS IS TRUE, I was fascinated. I loved the idea of YA readers getting too close to an author and ~scandals~ happening as a result. The story is told through a few different ways: interviews with a TV producer (Miri and Penny’s perspectives), a journal (Soleil’s), newspaper articles, and excerpts from Fatima’s book (essentially Jonah’s POV through Brady, the character she created.
Storytelling & Characters
This book was suuuuuper meta, which I usually love. It was telling the story of these teens who were duped into being friends with an author, who then turned around and wrote a “fictional” book based on all of the things she learned about them. With the excerpts from that book on top of the interviews/regular story, it was a book within a book that’s also about a book? Confusing but yes, meta. It was also an incredibly quick read since it alternates between all of the different formats and perspectives. I couldn’t stop reading it.
You can tell from the synopsis that the four teens that this book is about all have different feelings about what happened with Fatima. Miri still sticks up for her and is okay with what she did. (Miri was frustrating to read about because she was such a moron, desperate for approval and understanding. She refused to see what was right in front of her!) Soleil is upset that she was used for a book. Jonah can’t talk because…something happened to him. Penny felt left out of the whole thing from the beginning and did what she could to fit into their group. I think it was most interesting and frustrating to hear from Miri, because she was so clearly obsessed and duped into the whole thing. You just wanted to shake some sense into her. There were definitely got some weird, creepy cult vibes from what they were doing, which was fascinating. It all spiraled so quickly.
Negatives & Ending Feels
I could tell exactly where the story was heading from the beginning. It was unfortunately very predictable, and by the halfway point I assumed I had the whole thing figured out. I was cautiously optimistic that there would be a few twists though. I ended up being incredibly disappointed on that front; I kept expecting more and I didn’t get it. Where were the other twists? The line on the cover of the book says I won’t believe what happens, but I knew exactly what was going to happen. It feels like the author was trying to be edgier and ~meta~ (successful on the meta front because of the whole book/fake characters based on real characters/book within a book situation) but I just didn’t get that vibe. These were my status updates; you can see how hopeful I was lol.
The ending wasn’t great for me either. Some parts were intriguing but I honestly felt a little screwed out of what I deserved. I won’t get into specifics, but after that kind of book that’s supposed to be a wild ride… I wanted more. View Spoiler »What happened that made all of their phones buzz? I was thinking initially that it would be something with Fatima doing something drastic, but maybe it could have been that Jonah died? Or survived? « Hide Spoiler Closure on one specific thing was absolutely something I would have needed to be juuuust a little shocked at the end?
I feel so mixed about this book. On one hand, it was incredibly addicting and fascinating at times. The relationships and different reactions to what happened between was really intriguing. On the other hand, I seriously expected something with twists and turns that would blow my mind. I predicted 100% of the plot and the “twist(s)” was/were so obvious to me. I kept hoping for and expecting more on that front. I have to give this a straight-in-the-middle rating because I really feel 50/50 on this. I’m curious to see other reviews come in because I want to know if anyone else had the same experience with the supposed twistiness. I just wanted MORE.
Thoughts in a Gif