Publisher: Walker Books
Length: 416 pages
Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆Source: Physical ARC from Publisher
Jude and her twin Noah were incredibly close - until a tragedy drove them apart, and now they are barely speaking. Then Jude meets a cocky, broken, beautiful boy as well as a captivating new mentor, both of whom may just need her as much as she needs them. What the twins don't realize is that each of them has only half the story and if they can just find their way back to one another, they have a chance to remake their world.
So before I even begin to form my thoughts on this review, I need to mention that although I requested this ARC due to it's popularity, I began to become sceptical on whether I'd actually enjoy it. It received so much hype when it was released over in the USA so I was instantly worried about whether it would live up to all of the praise. That is one of the major things I worry about when it comes to over-hyped books, but luckily in this case I'll Give You the Sun matches up to every single word of that hype. It was phenomenal. Absolutely so. It is quite possibly the best contemporary novel I have ever read, and I've read a few. Anyway enough of my introductory thoughts, lets get into what you really came here to read, my detailed thoughts. So what did I think of it?
Cover- So I actually really like the UK versions of these covers in comparison to the US editions. They're very simplistic but for a contemporary book that is what I adore about it. I love the way the black outline of the sun and the title are done in a painting style - it really reflects the themes and importance of art in this book so I feel that was a necessary choice. The colour of the colour is vibrant and warm, but not too bright that it's overpowering. It reminds me of summer, warmth and happiness and by the end of this book, happiness is exactly the emotion you should be feeling and if not - you need to read the book again.
Plot - First of all I need to mention that I'm not going to go into complete detail with any of the plot points in this novel. I am a firm believer in just going into this novel knowings it's about a set of twins and how their lives develop. Certain elements of plot can really ruin the reading experience and I only wish to keep the experience as enjoyable as possible. So plot wise, the book is told from dual perspectives from two different timelines. Jude's perspective is told from when the twins are 16, and Noah's perspective from when they were 13. Now instantly when I saw this going into the book I was worried that it was going to be really difficult for me to tell apart the two different narratives and that it would all blur into one. This was not the case at all. Throughout this story it is always clear exactly who is narrating and what timeline you are in, and each has their own special details which I'm going to discuss in a bit. So as the synopsis states we're introduced to our two main characters, a set of twins called Noah and Jude. Now when they were younger they were as close as you could be, but after a variety of tragic events happen, their inseperable nature diminishes and their relationship is extremely rocky. Now without spoiling what this event, or events are, we follow the twin's journey's throughout their timelines and they begin to coincide with one another until our conclusive ending. I adored each of their storylines, I thought Jude's experience of creating her artistic masterpiece was really fascinating as was Noah's journey with his sexuality and dream of getting into Art college. Each had their own ways of seeing the world in this story which really emphasised the writing and plot. In Noah's perspective we are introduced to how he see's the world, in colour and sketches. This is shown to the reader through a selection of snippets into Noah's thinking through portraits he creates in his mind. I loved this way of thinking and the way it was written in to Noah's journey was incredible. Jude's was a bit plainer but still as enjoyable to read about. Jude see's the world plainly but tends to stick to psychological rules based from her Grandmother's bible teachings - I don't mean in the biblical sense, it's more teachings of luck ect. We get snippets along the way that suggest how Jude is thinking - such as if someone gives you an orange then they love you. It was little pockets of information like that in Jandy Nelson's writing that really emphasised just how the character's saw the world and this made the writing extremely believable.
Characters - In this book we focus obviously around our main protagonists, Noah and Jude, but these are not the only characters who get a great deal of focus in this book. We also explore Noah and Jude's family relationship with their parents, their love interests with Brian and Oscar as well of that as other friends and in Jude's case, an instructor. Now it's very difficult to discuss how exactly Jude and Noah's characters were in this book from beginning to end because they don't develop in that way. In Noah's perspective, both of the twins have that almost innocence about them in terms of their thinking, but by Jude's perspective we learn that each of the twins are dealing with their own struggles - loss, denial, jealousy, guilt etc. and this progresses as the book takes it's shape from each end. In my mind I don't see this book as a straight plot that starts on one side and ends in the middle, no - in my mind the beginning of the book starts at either side and the ending is in the middle and each of the perspectives have to reveal information along the way to get to this central point. Now you're probably sitting there thinking 'but who was your favourite of the two?' and that is seriously a difficult question to try and answer because it changed throughout the book. From the beginning of the book I sympathised and slightly preferred Noah's character because of the perils he was having to go through both in the past and in the present, whilst Jude's character just seemed to deal with the majority of them in her own perspective. However, as we gradually gained more insight into Jude as a person the boundaries of favouritism began to overlap - so much so that it is difficult to put my finger on it, but if I'm honest I think it would be Noah by that very little percentage just because I thought character wise he was more inclined to take things slowly in reality (not necessarily in his mind) while Jude tended to rush things a bit quicker than I would have liked (yes instalove I'm looking at you.) Now saying that, I did have a slight problem in the beginning with Jude's romantic notions with Oscar because I did feel at first they were kind of forced together, but as we saw Jude's heart tossing and turning between the notions, it started to balance out so much so that I barely noticed it. Jandy Nelson did a fantastic job of enticing me with the romantic elements of this book which is something that usually turns me off if too heavily focused, so well done to her! Now speaking of romantic relationships in this book, I was glad to see the involvement of a homosexual character. A lot of YA contemporaries these days are starting to involve gay characters in their writing, without purposely identifying them and singling them out. Holly Black did a wonderful job of this in The Darkest Part of the Forest and Jandy Nelson did it brilliantly in this. With Noah's character you really got to explore his true feelings in their full capacity towards how a teenager of Noah's age would actually deal with it. This for me was extremely realistic, and although not being gay myself I don't have experience with dealing with those situations, I know people who have and their struggles with revealing who they truly want to be, and in my opinion this was handled exquisitely in this book. There was no element that felt slightly exaggerated or overused and when blended with Noah's unique way of viewing the world in his artistic style, I think it just went hand in hand. Looking at some of the other character's, Brian's character, for what we saw of him really indulged me, he was that perfect blend of slightly nerdy but being able to stand up for who he was, even if originally his romantic involvement with Noah was to be kept hushed. I wasn't a huge fan of Oscar's character - I would have liked a bit more development on his front, to explore exactly how he got to be where he was and why. I just saw him as a bit flat - two dimensional if you will. Noah and Jude's parents were interesting - I would have liked to see more dimension to the mother's character in Noah's timeline, because I felt we explored a lot more of the father figure in this book, and obviously I understand why this can't be in Jude's.
So overall it is clear to see that I thoroughly enjoyed this book to the extent that I claimed it my favourite contemporary ever. It resonates so personally with each reader and the way Jandy Nelson makes the reader view the world through the twin's eyes is nothing short of spectacular. If you haven't read or added I'll Give You the Sun to your TBR pile yet, I highly suggest you do because it's popularity proceeds it and gratefully so. I award I'll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson the full 5 out of 5 stars on my classification scale. A definite recommendation!