Made You Up is my latest extent of interest in YA novels about schizophrenia, and other mental disorders. Each time I read a book about these type of things, I feel motivated to read about mental disorders and try to understand them and this book pulled off everything. With just the right amount of crazy, hallucinations, doubts, suspense, and thrill, and just a little (wonderful) bit of romance, the book made my head SPIN with the dire NEED to fangirl.
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.
First of all, LOOK AT THAT COVER PLEASE. It is so gorgeous and watercolor and it is just so perfect. The characters and everything, and I don’t even know how to contain all my thoughts because my brain is divided like this: Part A: I NEED A VANILLA CARAMEL MILKSHAKE. Part B: Is there a sequel?
Made You Up is a perfect book, and I’m shocked it can be classified as a contemporary. How is this contemporary people??! CUE MILKSHAKES. The writing is definitely average. It wasn’t over the top and definitely didn’t kill me like Maas’ writing, but it wasn’t meager and disagreeable. It definitely spoke the austere voice of a teenager, but it had a unique, definitely artful touch of zaniness and told me the volumes of living with hallucinations so frequently spotting your sights.
Speaking of the hallucinations. The hallucinations were brilliantly clever, and I was very shocked at a few of them, tbh. (*SPOILER* like Charlie *SPOILER ENDED*) I am surprised at how Zappia managed to make everything so doubtful and cryptic and skeptical while still managing a tainted air of reality. Some of the hallucinations were vivid and obvious and the others were confusing and caused us to be in much need of placation from an overdose of confuzzlingness. I really felt like I was INSIDE the brain of a schizophrenic teenager and it confused me too, what was a hallucination and what wasn’t.
The characters. THE CHARACTERS ZOMG HOW IS LIFE GOING TO CONTINUE THE WORLD IS SIGNIFICANTLY NEARER TO ITS DISASTROUS END ALL BY THE INCONGRUOUS BRAIN OF AN INSIGNIFICANT TINY BOOKWORM. The protagonist (I can’t call them MC apparently because I’m elegant like that) was a hallucinatory skeptical, highly entertaining main character. I’m not saying I enjoy watching schizophrenic people struggle with their mental condition; Alex was a devoutly complex and yet sharp character. She continued to surprise with her choices and her dialogue and the way she treated people–like an ordinary teenager. No special magic talent, unlike every other book I’ve read pretty much. I was happy and calmed to read a very regular story about an irregularly regular character.
Alex’s love interest, Miles Richter, was definitely halfway across the scale of much hated Ron Weasley (as a love interest, don’t take me wrong, but I love all the Weasleys in ways far different than this) at 1, to Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs (who continue to give me heart attacks every time I’m reminded of the fact that these two lovely men simply don’t exist) at 10. I think Miles went up at 7-8 ish. He’s German, with intense Blue Eyes (eh? eh? ;D ) which make me want to RAAAURGH him and blondish hair but he’s GERMAN so he is no Ken.
BUT. But he’s intensely smart and probably autistic and very curious about things. He loves numbers and words and science I AGREE WITH THE WORDS AND NUMBERS AND SCIENCE PART. He is very agreeable (WHAT UP P&P SLANG/COMMON LANGUAGE BUT IN THE NEW AGE), but I didn’t like how he dominated over people and how everyone was scared of him. PLEASE NOT ANOTHER ROWAN I NEED ONLY ONE OR I WILL NOT BE ABLE TO CHOOSE.
Also, I didn’t like Miles’ frequent use of bad language, but that did make him a very colorful character. Lots of swearing and a very childish use of very damage-doing words. But aside from that, Miles was so imperfect and autistic and his outbursts and his twenty questions game and his everything was just PLEASE CAN I HAVE MILES RICHTER YET ANOTHER MAKE BELIEVE PERSON AGGHHH GOSHDARNIT. Especially twenty questions, that one was cool. It was cool how Miles could do it in like 3 questions and I was like AIEUySFDGSDHSgHDS and basically swooning, because brains over brawn persons.
And finally, the schizophrenic aspect of the book! Zappia pulled it off; Alex’s frequent confusion and anger that half of what she thinks is real ISN’T REAL. You know what you call that? Alex has the sight. OOH. But still, the way ALex was majorly changed and constantly puzzled and angered and emotionally not intact with the way her brain made up things for her eyes to see, and everything in every little word of the book tried to communicate how Alex struggled to differ between her hallucinations and reality.
But on a opposite note, the book also showed how Alex’s schizophrenia wasn’t EVERYTHING. In the end, it became a major something, but it didn’t manage her love life or her school life–there was like 1000% more to Alex than just her mental condition, and I appreciated that 1000%. I appreciated the display of how someone’s condition, in general isn’t what constitutes them just like how race, religion, and ethnicity don’t define a person either. A mental condition is just a different type of human individuality, and I appreciate how this book pulled that off spectacularly without zeroing in too much on Alex’s schizophrenia or ignoring it completely.
All in all, Made You Up was a beautiful, beautiful book that will leave me singing and far warmer and welcoming to schizophrenic patients and people with any type of conditions. If this book has taught me anything, it’s taught me that there is no one thing to a human that defines them.