Number of pages: 336
Number of times read (including the time before this review): 1
Rating (out of five stars): 2
This is a book that I’ve had since December 2016, which made it the oldest unread book I owned. Maybe my tastes have changed since I read an excerpt on Penguin Teen’s Facebook page 2 years ago, but I have a feeling 2016 me would have been just as unimpressed with this one as 2018 me.
My main criticism of this book has nothing to do with the more technical elements of the book. The characters seem to be well done enough, the world-building and magic system make sense and are interesting, and the writing fits the story. Based on technical elements alone, this book is a good book.
The problem with this book is Aspen. I hate him so much. We’re stuck in this awful human being’s head for over 300 pages, and I’m still mad about it. He’s entitled and he never thinks about the consequences of his actions. Annoyed by your friends being in a relationship? Just steal their love for each other with your magical powers. Said something you regret? Steal the memory away from the people around you. That’s manipulation, [redacted because I try not to swear in my reviews]. You can’t just steal away a girl’s love for her boyfriend, start a relationship with her, and then remove any feelings she ever feels for her ex when they pop up. She is a person, not playdough.
This book just follows Aspen being a jerk, some girl calling him out on it, him cheating on his girlfriend who wouldn’t be his girlfriend without his mental meddling with the girl who calls him out, and then him not learning a single thing. Like near the end he supposedly learns that what he’s been doing is wrong, but before the book can finish we get to see him continue doing the thing he was supposed to have learned not to do for even more personal gain than before. What was even the point in reading this? He doesn’t experience any growth as a character. He starts off the book being a horrible person, and he’s still a horrible person by the end. And this is a character driven book, so there’s no reason to read this. It’s a complete waste of time.
And there’s some attempt at explaining away his despicable behaviour with some tragic backstory along the lines of “my dad stole my sadness as a boy, so all I could feel was hate”. I don’t buy it. You’re dad taking away your sadness does not make you unable to treat others as people rather than playthings and generally not be a complete piece of garbage. I read this a month ago, and I am still so angry writing this that I’m shaking.
Overall, Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies is a waste of time, earning it 2 stars out of 5. This book gets a big nope from me.