The Alienation of Courtney Hoffman by Brady Stefani
YA ∴ Sci Fi ∴ Coming of Age ∴ Mental Health
Published June 2016 by Spark Press
Ebook > Galley ∴ 282 pages
Fifteen year old Courtney wants to be normal like her friends. But there’s something frighteningly different about her—and it’s not just the mysterious tattoo her conspiracy-obsessed grandfather marked her with before he disappeared. She’s being visited in her bedroom at night by aliens claiming to have shared an alliance with her grandfather. And imaginary or not, they’re starting to to take over her mind. “Mental illness is a slippery slope,” her mother warns her.
The last thing Courtney wants to do is end up crazy and dead like her grandfather did. But what about the tattoo? And the aliens trying to recruit her? With her new alien-savvy friend Agatha and her apocalyptic visions, Courtney begins connecting the dots between the past, present and future—of her bloodline, and the ancient history that surrounds it. Is she going insane, like her family claims her grandfather did, or is she actually a “chosen one” with ancestral connections to another world? Either way, Courtney has a mission: untangle her past, discover the truth, and stop the apocalypse before it’s too late for everyone.
—I was given a digital copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review—
I was not into this book. I don’t really know how I made it to chapter 14 because it frustrated me to no end.
I don’t know what I thought when I decided to request this book. I think the summary is quite appealing, but I don’t think that came across in the writing. In all of my notes, I don’t have much that’s a true, positive comment. I have lots of thoughts about where I think it might be heading, but that’s really it.
I see that the rating on Goodreads is quite high. I think that this may just be a case of “not for me,” but I’m going to explain what I saw wrong with it and what I didn’t like.
To start, I was quite frustrated with the amount of trope-y and cliche characters. Right off the bat, there’s the “crazy grandpa,” who is visited by aliens and who everyone thinks is corrupting his granddaughter, Courtney. He has an 11-year old tattooed to protect her!
The next is Courtney’s mom. She’s the “divorced, new-boyfriend, too-good-for-her-kids” cliche and Stefani never lets you forget it. At every turn, she’s dismissing Courtney’s problems as made up or just vies for attention. She’s afraid that Courtney is going to corrupt her younger sister with ideas about aliens and threatens Courtney regularly. This poor girl needs help and she has no support system. Maybe it’s to further enforce the idea that she’s alone in her struggle, but she’s 15, I just feel terrible for her, even if she’s not stalked by aliens.
There’s also the “bitchy classmate with a loud mouth.” She’s pretty minor, but she still frustrated me. Goes out of her way to put Courtney down for no other reason than to upset her.
And then there’s an unwanted step-father figure. Courtney’s dad seems like a good guy, if somewhat absent, but her mom’s boyfriend is the worst. He’s a Pediatrician but acts like a surgeon. He, along with the mother, threatens and ignores Courtney’s issues. They take her to a psych ward because that’s always the solution.
The very beginning of the book is a flash back and it goes really fast. I felt sort of thrown into chaos without any warning. This kind of introduction works, sometimes (mostly in movies), but it didn’t work for me here. I’m not given any chance to feel for Courtney or her grandfather, yet it’s clear I’m supposed to. Instead, I found that I was just angry and confused. I pretty sure grandpa was body-snatched, but who knows.
Courtney has at least one friend that cares, Lauren. Lauren reaches out to Courtney’s mom when she notices Courtney isn’t sleeping and is often sick. At least someone cares.
Courtney also has an “imaginary” friend, that turns out to be real and has been sending her visions telekentically for years without knowing it. She’s probably cool, she seems like it.
The last thing that really bothered me is that Courtney is really petulant. She knows she needs help, but only wants the help she thinks she needs, like hypnosis. She’s 15, how would she know what she needs. That’s what real (not step-dad) doctors are for. But she just ignores it and runs off to a probable alien doctor for help, and that’s where I stopped.
This book could’ve been really cool if Courtney was really imagining the aliens and all of it is in her head, or something to that effect, but I don’t think it is. The way it’s presented, it’s like her mental illness isn’t the problem, it’s aliens because plot.
I hate that I had to DNF another ARC, but I firmly believe in not reading something you don’t like. This book didn’t click with me. Like I said earlier, there are lots of people who really enjoyed this book. Unfortunately, I’m not one of them, though I appreciate the opportunity to read and review it.