Hello and happy Friday. As you probably have noticed, I am in the process of reading all the ARCs I requested years ago and sort of forgot about. Today I’ll be sharing my thoughts on My Life As a Bench by Jaq Hazell. I want to thank NetGalley and the author for providing me this book to read and review. Let’s get started, shall we?
I read this novel between April 29th and May 4th, 2019 and rated it two stars. I’ll go ahead and say this: I think the concept was interesting but the execution was very poor. When it comes to my thoughts on the books I read, I usually can anticipate early on whether I’m going to like them or hate them, but My Life As a Bench was one of those exceptions in which I thought I would really enjoy what I read, and as I progressed, I realized this wasn’t going to be the case.
I say the concept was interesting because it was about this teenager who dies and wakes up as a bench, which is the memorial her family has ordered for her. Now, there are a few books I’ve already read in which the main character is dead but is still present in the land of the living, like Elsewhere from Gabrielle Zevin and The Happy Ever Afterlife of Rosie Potter by Kate Winter. We also have the stories in which the main character isn’t dead but they’re basically in limbo and must decide if they want to live or die, such as If I Stay by Gayle Forman and Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang. What I’m trying to say is that the idea has been executed before, but this novel offered us something original, the fact that the main character is not just a bodyless soul but an actual bench that doesn’t move or feel.
The chapters are short, and even as I progressed and became less excited about the story, I felt that need to read one more page, one more chapter, to just keep going. The flashbacks and flashforwards were other factors that had me expecting a lot from this novel, but that at the same time magnified the disappointment. Sadly, the author did not distribute the chapters in a way that made sense to me. There was a point in which every chapter was set in the past, so I felt that the construction of the story was not balanced.
Ren, our main character, has a boyfriend that I really didn’t like in the slightest and that I am actually going to talk about in depth when I list my disenchantments, so stay tuned for that one. I did not connect with any of the characters, and it’s not that they weren’t likable, which happens, but the story was not well constructed. We were being told about stuff that happened but didn’t really get to picture it. The romance did absolutely nothing to me, and I honestly could have done without it.
Another thing that really bothered me was a fatphobic joke that was thrown into the story like it was nothing. No, not on my watch. There was also an ableist joke, and again, I’m not going to take that. They were absolutely unnecessary and did nothing to the plot whatsoever, but they did negatively affect my rating.
Have you read any book about a dead character who, for some reason is still in our world? Let me know about it in the comments below.
Love, Miss Camila