A Bucket Full of Awesome by Zainab T. Khan

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services
Publication Date: February 14th 2015

1 OUT OF 5 STARS

Disclaimer: A free copy of this book was given to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

“Reasonable things would never bring you joy as much as unreasonable ones do.”

Summer Wallace is a basketball loving tom-boy who wants to do nothing more than spend all her days on The Court. Unfortunately a cancer diagnosis interferes with her plans. Summer isn’t hopeful that she’ll make it out alive. Instead she decides to spend all her free time trying to complete a bucket list with her best friend and resident bad-boy Blake Knight.

There is a lot to talk about in this novel, but the best place to start is with Summer Wallace. The main character fits the “Not Like Other Girls” trope so well it’s ridiculous. In fact at one point she notes “…as much as I hate to relate myself to those overly stupid creatures also known as girls.” This is not interesting character depth. She’s also abusive, selfish and rude. It isn’t endearing. Near the end of the novel there is an attempt to redeem her, something along the lines of “she actually does charity work and is really insecure and sweet.” Rarely in the novel do we see Summer be anything but cruel to the people who care about her.

Her age is also an issue. She’s meant to be nearly twenty, but is written far younger. She has strange relationships with adults who treat her like a half-child and half-adult hybrid that bears minimum responsibility for anything but still needs to be treated maturely. If the story had her in high school still it would have felt a lot better stylistically. As it is it felt like a pale imitation of depth and relationships between the characters. It told us how things were and never bothered showing any evidence.

This is my main issue with the book. Summer has lung cancer. That’s a heavy topic and when dealing with topics like cancer, depression and anything this serious there should be a lot of research put into it. Of course you can fictionalize things, but it should be grounded in some research.  It felt like cancer was a minor inconvenience at best, only when it was convenient did cancer actually become an issue. Even when it was at it worst it wasn’t realistic and it isn’t a topic that should have been written about so carefully. Cancer was treated as a device to emotionally manipulate characters and readers when needed instead of the horrifying disease it is.

The story itself seemed to hinge on convenient things. It bolted through the entire bucket list with extreme improbability. Every character is willing to bow to Summer so she can get what she wants. There is rarely a snag in her plans and there’s always a convenient alternative to her less realistic wishes. It’s also trying painfully hard to have deep quotes.

It was a good premise, and there were some enjoyable parts. It’s writing was weak but the ideas were decent. There were a few scenes that had me interested in how Blake and Summer intended to pull something off. The idea had potential. If the bucket list was cut down (thirty some items was too many to make each meaningful), and the characters were looked at it could be a solid read. As it stands the characters were shallow, the research just wasn’t there and the plot moves too fast forward without ever going deep enough.

It definitely feels a lot like The Fault in our Stars. It lacks the quirky style and depth and it just falls flat where the other succeeded.

Read this if you’re a fan of: The Fault in our Stars

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