“A” is a 16-year-old unlike any other. Without a gender, or a body of its own, “A” jumps from body to body every day. There is no way of knowing who “A” will end up being, or where. “A” has never had a traditional family or a given name…simply choosing the first letter of the alphabet. The only thing that is certain is that “A” will only end up in the body of another 16-year-old in roughly the same region as the day before.
For the sake of this review, I will be referring to “A” as a male because that is how I imagined him. Please don’t let this skew your opinion about the story; it is simply to make writing my review easier.
When we first meet “A,” he is in the body of a 16-year-old named Justin. Justin clearly is not a very nice guy…this becomes even more apparent by the way his girlfriend, Rhiannon, behaves around him—meek and submissive. “A” falls deeply for Rhiannon and every day after that day…the day he inhabited Justin…he does everything he can to get back to her; to be with her. Day in, day out “A” inhabits 16-year olds and lives their lives just for that day. Sometimes he meets up with Rhiannon (without her realization of their having met before) and other times he just does his best to make it through the day. His bodies run the gamut of size, shape, sexual orientation, and race. Eventually, he decides to come clean to Rhiannon about who he really is…an unbelievable truth. Will she leave Justin for him, even though there is no guarantee that he will ever be able to stay? Could she ever love someone whose body changes daily?
This story is unbelievable, but fun. It has all the feel of the late 80s/early 90s television series Quantum Leap except without Ziggy or the sciencey-time travel stuff. That is one of the reasons I liked this book so much…I have such fond memories of watching that show with my dad…but yeah…that is neither here, nor there. This story really tackled a lot of plot. There was the main plot: “A” and Rhiannon’s love story, but there is also some sub-plots: one of the people “A” inhabits (sort of) remembers being inhabited. He claims he was possessed by the devil. So there’s that. The other sub-plot is that of all the little moral dilemmas that “A” faces as he impersonates each person he inhabits. The former sub-plot seemed unnecessary, but did add to the suspense of the overall story. The latter sub-plot felt roll-your-eyes-predictable at times, but did not take away from the story much. I still really liked this book. There is a steamy scene or two, so I would only recommend this to grades 9 and up.
Gripes: My gripes are not aimed at the book, as I rarely review books that I dislike enough to gripe about them, rather; my gripes are aimed at some reviewers. Before reading this book, I read some rather unfavorable reviews that claim that “A” is a stalker because he goes out of his way to be near Rhiannon. This did not come off as stalking to me. Looking back at high school, I can remember countless times that I had a crush on a guy and made every effort to know when he would be passing me in the hall, or whether or not he would be at the Football game…don’t deny it, you did it too. When you are sixteen, you have crazy hormones and your mind fixates on “that guy” or “that girl.” It is no different in this story…except that “A” wakes up every morning in another person’s body…potentially in another town. It doesn’t change his feelings for Rhiannon…so no…I don’t think his actions constitute stalking.
Themes: body swap, coming of age, contemporary, David Levithan, fantasy fiction, friendship, gender, high school identity, LGBTQ, love, love story, morality, realistic fiction, relationships, romance, science fiction, sexuality, supernatural, teen fiction, teenagers, YA, young adult