Title: More Happy Than Not
Author: Adam Silvera
Release Date: 06/2/2015
Reviewed by: Emily
The Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-relief procedure seems too good to be true to Aaron Soto — miracle cure-alls don’t tend to pop up in the Bronx projects. But Aaron can’t forget how he’s grown up poor or how his friends aren’t always there for him. Like after his father committed suicide in their one bedroom apartment. Aaron has the support of his patient girlfriend, if not necessarily his distant brother and overworked mother, but it’s not enough.
Then Thomas shows up. He has a sweet movie-watching setup on his roof, and he doesn’t mind Aaron’s obsession with a popular fantasy series. There are nicknames, inside jokes. Most importantly, Thomas doesn’t mind talking about Aaron’s past. But Aaron’s new-found happiness isn’t welcome on his block. Since he’s can’t stay away from Thomas or suddenly stop being gay, Aaron must turn to Leteo to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he is.
Here’s a conversation I had with my friend about More Happy Than Not:
Me: Read this book. It’s really good.
Friend: What’s it about?
Me: It’s this mix between science fiction and contemporary, and coming to terms with sexuality.
Me: Also there’s a plot twist.
Friend: Maybe I’ll read it at some point.
Me: No no no. I’ll lend you my copy right now. I can’t talk about it without spoiling it but it’s a good plot twist.
Friend: . . .
Me: The plot, that I won’t spoil for you, has a big twist and it’s good.
The world-building, exploration of how Aaron interacts with his environment, and seamless integration of science fiction into the contemporary setting were amazing. The portrayal of Aaron’s struggle with internalized homophobia is really spot-on. Silvera artfully combined the universal elements of that experience with issues specific to Aaron’s life. I was really drawn in by the Leteo Institute and all the ethics questions it brings up, especially with regards to Aaron. The inclusion of the Leteo Institute draws parallels to the real world issues of conversion therapy and the search for the “gay gene” along with a way to prevent it. The novel does a good job bringing up and discussing these issues within the novel and I think it starts a dialogue for readers to consider beyond the scope of the novel. This novel is definitely an emotional roller coaster (especially because I’ve dealt with — and to be honest sometimes still deal with — my own internalized homophobia) and the plot twist is so. Damn. Good. I know I keep mentioning it and I’m being vague to avoid spoilers but honestly it’s mind-blowing. Silvera’s voice is a talented new addition to the young adult world and I can’t wait until everyone reads More Happy Than Not out now!