In this high school-set psychological tale, a tormented teen named Evan starts to discover a series of unnerving photographs—some of which feature him. Someone is stalking him . . . messing with him . . . threatening him. Worse, ever since his best friend Ariel has been gone, he's been unable to sleep, spending night after night torturing himself for his role in her absence. And as crazy as it sounds, Evan's starting to believe it's Ariel that's behind all of this, punishing him. But the more Evan starts to unravel the mystery, the more his paranoia and insomnia amplify, and the more he starts to unravel himself. Creatively told with black-and-white photos interspersed between the text so the reader can see the photos that are so unnerving to Evan, Every You, Every Me is a one-of-a-kind departure from a one-of-a-kind author.
I am going to start by saying that I do absolutely love and adore David Levithan and everything that he writes. I need to get that out there before I say that although I did really love this book, it's actually very different from the rest of stuff, and is much harder to recommend because of this difference.
Unlike any of David's other collaborations, this one is done with a photographer. Photographs appear throughout the story and the book incorporates them really well, to tell a disturbing story about the narrator, Evan, and his best friend Ariel, and what happened in the woods one day that meant she was no longer around.
I did think that the photographs worked really well. They enhanced the story and made it just that little bit creepier than it would have been had the photos simply been described.
My one criticism (that has nothing to do with the writer) is that the book could definitely have been printed better by the publisher. Some of the photos in the paperback are not all that clear and it made it difficult to see what they were. However, when I looked at my friend's hardback version of the book, the photos were much crisper and easier to make out. I would definitely recommend getting hold of the hardback if you're interested in reading this!
Another thing that really sets this book apart from David's others is the stylistic writing style. David does often like to experiment with voice and style in his books, but I think this is one of the more interesting cases. Some of the text is crossed out, which gives the narrative a strange conscious thought vs subconscious thought feeling. This, in my opinion, made the book both fast-paced and fragmented, which really added to the voice and to the overall experience of the book. It was strange hearing both the words that Evan is actually saying to Ariel, and the words that he doesn't, or feels he can't. The words he can never really say.
The other thing about this book that sets it apart from the rest of David's books is the story itself. It's a lot more psychological, in some ways more abstract (this isn't quite the right word, but it's the closest I can think of that comes anywhere near describing how I think of it) and it definitely gets more into the mind of the narrator than any of his other books seem to. This could just be because the narrator is conflicted, and is also trying to deal with problems that no one else seems to understand, but he really does seem to have cracked into the very soul of his narrator and exposed every part of him.
Like I said at the beginning, this is a very difficult book to recommend. If you're already a fan of David Levithan, I would definitely say to give this a go, but be mindful that it has a very different texture to the rest of his books. If you're new to David, I would possibly say to try another of his books first – probably Every Day or Will Grayson, Will Grayson (written with John Green) – and then give this a go when you're ready for something a little bit different.
If your interest has been piqued by my review though, and you want to experience the uniqueness of this story for yourself, then I would urge you to go and get a copy right now (or if the shops are shut, tomorrow) and check it out for yourself. I'm really glad that I did.