Release Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.
Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn't she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.
Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.
Made You Up follows Alex, a high school senior determined to blend in to a new school and to score a place from college. In addition to the obstacles all teenagers deal with, Alex often finds it difficult to tell the difference between real life and delusion due to her schizophrenia diagnosis and the strains that come with that.
I listed Made You Up as one of my most expected debuts for 2015, and once again, I was left a bit disappointed. The premise sounds so interesting and the mention of Wes Anderson in the synopsis caught my attention right away. And though Made You Up was not a bad read at all, it just wasn't quite what I expected and hoped it would be.
Alex is an extremely interesting protagonist, mainly due to the fact that throughout this novel, I was never quite sure of what to believe. Due to her schizophrenia, her reality and delusions get mixed up and often it is just the little things and slight hints that suggest to the reader whether what Alex is describing and seeing is part of the reality or not. I am a huge fan of unreliable narrators, and Alex definitely provides one of the most interesting perspectives I've come across so far.
I cannot think of any previous books I've read that include a character with schizophrenia, but after reading Made You Up, I am definitely interested to try out something similar. The unreliability of the narration and the blending of the reality and delusion continually turned Made You Up into an interesting, unique read. Since my knowledge on Schizophrenia is very limited, I cannot say much about how realistic Zappia's representation of Alex's state of mind is, but I did feel like I was able to get into her head and really understand how terrified she occasionally is of what is happening to her.
The main problem I had with Made You Up is the involvement of the love interest Miles. At first, I really liked his enigmatic presence, but at the novel developed, I continually felt like rather than focusing solely on Alex (which I was looking for), the novel turned into a more generic YA contemporary “love” story. Don't get me wrong – I love YA romance, but it just wasn't what I was looking from this book.
Made You Up definitely is a very visual read, which in turn makes it extremely cinematic. There are several parts in the novel, mostly the ones with Alex's delusions, that made me think of how they would look on the big screen. The synopsis for the novel mentions Wes Anderson, but though I adore his films, if this were ever turned into a film, I would like to see it more in style of a gritty indie teen drama/comedy than in the whimsical style of Wes Anderson.
Zappia is a talented writer and Made You Up really promises good things for her future. Despite the serious subject matter, the novel manages to be extremely funny at points. Unfortunately, though I liked it, it did not leave on me the type of high impact I was expecting for. Nevertheless, I am happy I read it and I definitely want to recommend it for everyone looking for a well written, visual YA novel with an unreliable narrator.