The Unexpected Everything by Morgan Matson
I had high hopes for The Unexpected Everything to be a blissful summer contemporary read. It has an absolutely beautiful cover and is very photogenic.
Unfortunately, of its 517 pages, 300 of them are boring.
This is a story about a girl named Andie whose father is a congressman. She lives a very independent and privileged life. Since her mother’s passing, her father has become neglective, paying her little attention and spending quality time with her only when in front of the cameras. She spends most of her time with a tight knit group of friends. When a scandal surrounding her father’s campaign costs her a prestigious summer medical program, Andie falls into a dog-walking gig.
This is where we meet the only interesting character in this book, Clark. He’s a 19-year-old best-selling fantasy writer with a severe case of writers block. I had anxiety just reading about his struggles to write and the pressure of a huge fan base. He falls for Andie pretty quickly, I’m assuming because she’s really pretty, because she doesn’t seem to have much personality beyond that.
Andie is so Mary Sue. She has minimal interests or distinguishing traits. She’s got brown hair, is determined and professional, and doesn’t emotionally connect with boys. She doesn’t like John Wayne and she doesn’t read. And I can’t even think of anything she does like. Even her taste in food is bland, she once comments on how she gets the same thing at restaurants and doesn’t like to venture much. Oh! She does really like her daily fancy iced lattes. What a character.
I couldn’t even distinguish between her three other girl friends, because they are literally the same. Pretty white girls, one like movies, one works at a museum, one has a boyfriend and works at a theatre. Yawwwwwn.
There’s this one part on page 216 where Andie is embarrassed to admit that she didn’t have her first kiss until she was fourteen (14!), because she “wanted it to be special.” Fourteen?! What? *EYEROLL*
Also the chapter lengths in this book are so annoyingly inconsistent. One chapter will be 11 pages long, and the next will be 21 or more. It makes it really hard when you tell yourself you can stop after one more chapter.
About midway through the book, literally everything is going well. Andie’s relationship with her dad is on the mend, she’s happy and open with Clark, and she likes her job. There are no stakes or tension until the last few chapters of the book.
One of her friends, Bri, falls for their friend Wyatt, who Bri’s best friend, Toby, has been obsessed with for years. This is a twist that upsets their entire friend group, and I actually felt the emotional tension and distraught from their fallout. However, I saw this coming from a mile away. No surprises with this book.
There was a massive scavenger hunt in the book that was a really fun read. The event brought out quirky and fun traits and decisions in the characters and its outcome was rather unexpected. This book also uses texting really well and their conversations are realistic and funny at times.
Before some chapters there are snippets from Clark’s fantasy novels, but I don’t know if that was as effective as it was meant to be. I get the feeling it was meant to parallel what was happening with the characters, but seeing as not much was ever really happening… It definitely wasn’t as effective as in the book Fangirl, where Rainbow Rowell did something similar but successfully.
[Okay, random rant. Clark is complaining about his father as a science fiction writer and claims that he doesn’t get what Clark does because he writes fantasy. What? Science fiction and fantasy are totally similar. They act like they’re worlds apart. It’s not like it’s nonfiction and fantasy or memoir or poetry or something. As far as the realms of writing, science fiction and fantasy are both imaginative world-building genres.]
I did enjoy the ending; I like how their friend group evolved and the arc of Andie’s relationship with her father.
Overall, it was too long, a bit dull, but not the worst contemporary I’ve read. It had moments where I was teary eyed, and it made me laugh sometimes. If you’re looking for something light and easy to pass some time, this wouldn’t be the worst book to choose.