More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

More Happy Final CoverMore Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
Published by Soho Teen on June 2, 2015
Genres: [Young Adult] Contemporary, Science Fiction, LGBTQ+
Pages: 293
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased
Buddy Read With: Lois at My Midnight Musings

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books a Million

4.5 Stars, Completed June 23, 2016

– read the bold text to avoid SPOILERS –

[That awful moment when you realize you scheduled a post unfinished… 😮 Yup, that actually happened with this book’s review early last week. For those that follow Xingsings via email, so sorry for the confusion! I guess you guys got a special glimpse of the process I take while composing a book review. Anyway, this is the official one for More Happy Than Not.]

It’s sort of funny how bad I am at skimming my friends’ reviews, because I totally missed the crucial memo about More Happy Than Not: it is a sad book, not a happy one as the title suggests. I dived into it totally assuming it would make me laugh more than cry. (I mean there is a smile on the original cover…) But, gosh, was I wrong.

Sometimes pain is so unmanageable that the idea of spending another day with it seems impossible. Other times pain acts as a compass to help you get through the messier tunnels of growing up. But the pain can only help you find happiness if you can remember it.

More Happy Than Not follows Aaron Soto, a guy with a smile-shaped scar on his wrist to remind him of a period of overwhelming grief and misery. This summer his supportive girlfriend, Genevieve, leaves him for art camp and he’s left all alone. Aaron then befriends the kid on the other block, Thomas. He finds that hanging out with Thomas brings him a sense of happiness different from Genevieve and his other friends, and he soon has to face what these newfound feelings mean. Aaron then considers turning to Leteo Institute’s cutting edge memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out (quite literally in the figurative sense), even if the consequence is forgetting who he truly is.

This novel deserves recognition for its ability with touching very important topics and motifs in great depth with authenticity. Also, this book is so diverse not only in sexuality and gender, but in race, ethnicity, and social class as well. And readers have so much to contemplate as issues such as social constraints, mental health, sexual exploration/discovery, and memory loss arise throughout the story. I was so thankful to have Lois with me along this reading journey because, beyond the plot and storyline, there’s plenty to discuss.

I also loved that this wasn’t like usual coming out stories. Aaron accepts and publicly shares his sexuality and identity in a very unique way that I’m sure future LGBTQ+ stories will have difficulty in replicating or surpassing the impact More Happy Than Not exudes. And speaking of Aaron, to many readers’ eyes he is one of those fallible heroes that readers can’t help but fervently wish a happy ending for. But he’s not written to gain sympathy cards but, rather, he’s used as a character vessel for readers to understand the broad range of emotions Adam Silvera wants to convey with his words and story. (I actually wonder how much of Aaron is in Silvera since I noticed they shared tiny details such as both growing up in the Bronx and having the same initials.) In many instances, I can see how this is debut novel. I’ve observed that a lot of authors tend to put their heart and soul in their first books (probably and arguably) the most seeing as they all hope to publish their work someday and that by some chance it’ll make it big. Readers can really feel the honesty that radiates from More Happy Than Not from time to time; the praise this standalone has received is well deserved because of this raw energy.

Like Aaron, the rest of the teenage cast is as relatable and believable as his character if not more. Readers will meet a ton of them, but each seem to serve an essential purpose in the story however brief his/her apperance may be. I also really appreciated that not everyone was accepting or understanding of Aaron’s sexual identity. There were some steadfast supporters such as Aaron’s mother and Genevieve, but also much less accepting ones such as Aaron’s dad, Brendan, and most of the other childhood friends around the block. But, importantly, there are also the grey ones where they didn’t have an obvious stance and/or were indifferent (like Aaron’s brother, Thomas, etc). I believe it’s important to include these prototypes just because there are a lot of them (people that don’t really support or are against LGBTQ+ views, and/or may just be confused themselves) in reality.

Lastly, something really interesting that I found wasn’t highlighted enough by other reviewers is the execution in perfectly balancing the contemporary and science fiction elements. It was so brilliantly done in More Happy Than Not. This standalone should probably be identified as a contemporary or realistic fiction work, but I really appreciated the slight sci-fi details, which were never at all overdone but instead emphasized just right, with the Leteo Institute’s involvement.

So I really loved More Happy Than Not, but post reading I couldn’t shake off one small disappointment: (I may be the only one that felt this way but) the hype wasn’t justified in the first 120 pages (hence 4.5 stars). Maybe I wasn’t in the mood to read, but More Happy Than Not just didn’t captivate me in the beginning and I didn’t really see (at the time) what made it special. However, by the middle/end, there were several twists that I hadn’t anticipated and I was completely in awe by the significant turnaround.

I’ve become this happiness scavenger who picks away at the ugliness of the world, because if there’s happiness tucked away in my tragedies, I’ll find it no matter what. If the blind can find joy in music, and the deaf can discover it with colors, I will do my best to always find the sun in the darkness because my life isn’t one sad ending—it’s a series of endless happy beginnings.

Anyway, I am more happy than not that I chose to read this thoughtful and emotional debut novel sooner than later. Incredibly poignant and moving, More Happy Than Not is a book readers shouldn’t miss. 

Summer’s Playlist:
Goner | Heartache | Memories | C.h.a.o.s.m.y.t.h. | The Scientist
*the bold/underlined are must listens!

Blog @xingsings | Instagram @readxings | Twitter @xingsings

16 thoughts on “More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

  1. Eve Messenger says:

    I’d heard MORE HAPPY THAN NOT was sad, but it came as a shocker that there are sci-fi elements. That made me more curious to read it, as did the detail you mentioned about the MC having on his wrist a “smile-shaped scar.” Whoah.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Lois says:

    Again, you hit the nail on the head with this review. I could not agree more with everything you’ve said. I also wondered how much of Aaron is in Silvera as well because the emotion was so raw you can’t help but feel like it came from part of him and his life. I do think the first 100+ pages or so fell a bit flat and it what Part Zero that really took things to another level. I’m still reeling by some of the revelations and I’d love to check in with Aaron to see how he’s doing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Thank you, Lois!

      Oh gosh, yes. Part Zero was like a huge 180 degree turn. Things got so real. I also loved how the flashbacks were written with that part. They were integrated so well and reading them were impactful. And the ending was bittersweet, so sad but still had a little bit of a hopeful air. I’m really looking forward to Silvera’s next book. I hope we feel just as connected to the characters as this debut!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Marie @ drizzleandhurricanebooks says:

    What a fantastic review! I’ve been wanting to read this for a while now, and I’m so thrilled that you mentionned sci-fi elements a bit more, for some reason I wasn’t sure about these parts, but now I am convinced I need to read that book. I feel like I could absolutely LOVE it. Thank you for sharing this, Summer! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      I’ve been so behind with replying to comments, but, by now, I know you’ve read this. And I’m so happy that it made it onto your recent list about the best books you’ve read in 2016. So glad you loved it as much as I did. And thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. cw @ readthinkponder says:

    AH YAY I’m so glad you liked More Happy Than Not! It was one of my favourite books of last year, and ah, just. more people need to read it! Even if it is super heartbreaking – it has such an important story to tell.
    I completely agree that MHTN has a lot of authenticity. Some parts of it are so raw but honest, and I really appreciated that. No tiptoeing around the hard subjects; just an earnest story.

    Thank you for this lovely review, Summer. And again, YAY so glad you like it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Ah, thank you so much, Chooi!

      A part of me is also relieved that this lived up to the immense hype. And agreed, MHTN was such a refreshing debut for so many reasons. I loved the mix of sci/fi and contemporary elements, and the deep themes it shared were important. I can’t wait for Silvera’s next work. I won’t delay picking up History is All You Left Me as I did with MHTN, that’s for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

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