I technically wanted to write a full review of this and have it say everything I want to say about “The F-it List”, but this is going to be short and sweet because I don’t think it’s going to take much for me to reflect upon it.
Overall, I wasn’t impressed with this novel because I think it tried to do so much within it that everything was just over the top. You have two girls: Alex and Becca, who are friends and the novel starts off with Alex being mad at Becca for sleeping with her boyfriend on the night of her father’s funeral. She’s all set to forgive her after a time, only to realize that Becca has cancer. Becca decides she wants to do everything she can do in something like a “bucket list”, which they affectionately call the “F-it List.” There’s a lot of pop culture dropping, what with Alex’s love for horror movies and media, and there’s a bit of focus on Alex’s growing love for Leo. But they all have to contend with their grief at some point.
Don’t get me wrong, I think I could’ve appreciated the relationship between Alex and Becca a lot more if Becca had been more of a focus, but really this book had more to do with pop culture references (however endearing they might’ve been – even Bruce Campbell had a mention in here. Bruce Campbell! Though that shouldn’t be surprising considering the links to horror movies). The sheer number of them pretty much overtook the novel after a time. While I was totally with the mentions of Hello Kitty, Polly Pocket, Battlestar Galactica, various horror movie mentions and trivia details (Bruce Campbell!), it felt like the rest of the story was lost in the sea.
This book also had more to do with graphic displays of sex, which normally if it had a purpose in the novel, I wouldn’t be so squirmy about, but not only is this a YA novel (and people probably have different comfort zones with that mention – so this is definitely not a novel for young teens), but also the mentions of it overtook the novel I think, from its primary focus. Really, there were more focal points on Alex’s sexual encounters with Leo than with dealing with Becca’s cancer, though I understood there was focus in the story in Alex’s attempts to deal with her father’s grief, her grief over Becca’s cancer, AND another grief story that surfaces in the details of the tale later on.
This book tried to be an overtly funny alternate version of “Me, Earl, and the Dying Girl,” but ultimately failed with that because the humor was too forced and the focal points were shallow in presentation. Some of it was funny, but the vast majority of the time – I wasn’t laughing, mostly cringing.
Overall, this was my first experience with Julie Halpern’s writing, but it’s not a story I would recommend because it didn’t really impress or grab me in the measures of what it offered. It had some moments, and I’ll give it credit for those, but ultimately, it’s not a story I would read again or want to return to. It was just too much and not well enough in its focus.
Overall score: 1.5/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher.