[Review] ‘Holding up the Universe’ by Jennifer Niven

28686840Title – ‘Holding up the Universe’
Author – Jennifer Niven
Published – October 6th 2016 by Penguin
Pages – 388
Format – Paperback

Book Summary –

‘Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world – theirs and yours.

Review –

*Warning – Contains minor spoilers*

I’ve got to admit I’m not a massive lover of contemporary fiction.. but when I picked this book up I happened to just be in the right mood for it. Especially after finishing Crooked Kingdom I hadn’t been able to pick up anything so needed something of a more ‘lighter’ nature to get me out of my hangover. I definitely think this book did the trick.

This was also a book I could somewhat relate to, as a bigger girl myself I honestly know to a point what Libby went through… I had my fair share of comments throughout school about my weight. Unfortunately that was the simply the nature of high school.

This book was predictable… but it was an easy enough read that I suppose I didn’t mind too much. Obviously elements with Libby once being America’s fattest teen and Jack with his ‘face-blindness’ (medically named Prosopagnosia) did add a certain element of difference compared to many others. But it did still follow the usual rules… the popular guy, the female outcast… fall in love, share some kind of heartbreak and then get back together.

If I’m honest the elements with Jack and his family were the most interesting to me, little Dusty was adorable and Jack’s protectiveness of him definitely showed the most kind hearted side of him. Jack definitely hid his condition well and to have hidden it so successfully for so many years must of been incredibly hard going. So I must say I give him praise for struggling alone with that secret for so long.

Another element I would like to point out is bullying. And Libby’s reaction to it. I think if you’re being bullied you’re going to end up doing one of two things… you’re either going to crawl in on yourself or you’re going to fight back. And Libby most certainly fought back, it makes me wish I had the confidence to speak up more against the idiots I had to deal with in high school. I admire that she stood her ground, still continued to do what she loved and she wasn’t afraid to be who she wanted to be. Society has the problem where they look far to much into how you look, how thin you are and even if you change those elements, lose the weight… the past will always be there. When you had the kind of past Libby had it’s hard to lose that image, people will always see your past as who you are, rather than looking at who you’ve become.

The time skips in this book were incredibly well handled and paced… I liked that the time never skipped too much into the future. You could very easily fill in the gaps so to speak. The writing itself was easy to follow and easy to understand… I never found myself getting lost. The explanations of Jack’s Prosopagnosia and Libby’s past were also well written and explained in detail throughout the book… you never got too much information chucked at you in one go.

I wouldn’t know what else to say about this book… it is what it is. Two teens in a typical American high school trying to live typical teen lives whilst battling two very different problems. Like I’d said previously… it was predictable, but easy to follow and well written enough that I kept reading. It had a good pace, progressed smoothly and Jack in particular had some very nice character development… a very solid contemporary novel in my opinion.

Would I suggest this book to other bookworms? If you like your contemporary fiction then yes.
Am I completely in love with this book? I enjoyed it… but no love is involved

[I rate this book 4/5 stars]

Where to find me;
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7 thoughts on “[Review] ‘Holding up the Universe’ by Jennifer Niven

  1. LairOfBooks says:

    Great review Shannon! I’ve been going back & forth with whether I should pick this one up or not. I thought that these characters came off as different & it had potential to offer a new story that we haven’t heard. Although these characters are different in what they are dealing with, it seems to be following the same formula most YA Contemporaries follow. I think I will still end up reading this one since I can relate to Libby as well when it comes to weight & how that affected me in High School. I enjoyed your review 😉


    • mediashadowreads says:

      Yeah I’d previously heard a lot of great things about this author hence why I decided to pick this one and ‘All the bright places’ (which I’ve yet to read) up…. but as it was I’ve been in a contemporary mood recently which greatly influenced me as well. And yes… much like you said the base story basically follows the same formula… it’s a very good contemporary book but it is predictable in that sense. The characters themselves were decent although I found Jack went through a far bigger jump in character development compared to Libby. You’ll have to let me know what you think of it when (and if) you do eventually choose to pick it up. And thank you… its nice that my reviews are appreciated 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • LairOfBooks says:

        You’re very welcome Shanon, that’s too bad that Libby’s character went under developed. I would probably relate to her the most 😔 lately I feel that too often I get excited reading such interesting synopsis, only to be let down when the book feels to some extent the same as the last 5 I read. I’m beginning to be very particulate with contemporary in YA for this reason. I will def let you know what I think if I get to this one. I’ve heard good things about All The Bright Places, hope that it doesn’t disappoint 😉


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