I AM SO TOALLY OVERCOME WITH EMOTIONS RIGHT NOW. AGH. How do I even...what do I say! How! GAHLKJ FJAKSLDS GHARRRHRH. *ahem* I quite liked this book. It was confusing at times and I guessed many of the plot twists, but somehow I was so totally caught up that the 400-pages just flipped by in a flash and I wanted more, but I also wanted to cry, but I also wanted to rage. So basically YEAH ALL THE EMOTIONS. IT WAS REALLY GOOD. I FEEL LIKE I JUST GOT STABBED IN THE FACE.
So it's about schizophrenia, but written in a way I've never experienced. I've read Challenger Deep and Alice and the Fly, which both painted the utter confusion of delusions so vividly and were both incredible books to read and I could literally feel what it'd be like to drown in hallucinations. But Made You Up! IT WAS DIFFERENT. We say Alex as a "normal" person. She said funny things, she had average hopes/dreams, she had normal hobbies, she did chores and held down a job, rode a bike, and took heaps of photos. She was a history nerd. And...she had paranoid schizophrenia. But it wasn't WHO she was. Like I felt there was more to Alex than her mental illness, and I appreciated that 10000%. This book really helped me to understand MORE about schizophrenia and labels and just aGHHHHH SEE THIS IS WHY I LOVE IT SO MUCH! I loved Alex. I connected to her, I rooted for her.
There's also epic secondary characters that were excellently written and developed. Alex is going to this new school (she got kicked out of her last) and so she meets a motley crew, but notably: Tucker and Miles. DON'T WORRY! THERE'S NO LOVE TRIANGLE. Tucker is a really cool, sweet dude and I liked his easy-going friendship with Alex (YAY FOR PLATONIC FRIENDSHIPS)
But Miles! Miles is complex. He's German and skinny and a genius and horrible and cruel and unempathetic and has GORGEOUS BLUE EYES and has heart-shattering secrets and afdjsaklda I love Miles. I love him a lot. I do get why he'd be hated by a lot of readers though, but the important thing to realise here is there's a huge chance (though not directly confirmed) that Miles is autistic. So please don't expect him to be neurotypical, because he's not and as an Autistic person, he's SO EXCELLENTLY WRITTEN I COULD CRY. And he's a genius, like he's just a fountain of EXTREME GENIUS. I totally loved his development and the way his and Alex's relationship when from mean pranks to goopy adorable entirely shippable romance. #bestromanceever
"I mean that when I'm the one doing everyone else's dirty work, and everyone is afraid of me, I feel safe. I control what happens and to who." (pg. 219)
(Very Autistic thinking there.)
"Heaven knows the boy already seems a little...emotionally stunted. I'm half convinced he's autistic."
"So what if he is"
She blinked at me. "What"
"So what if Miles is autistic And he's not 'emotionally stunted' -- he has emotions like the rest of us. he just has trouble figuring out what they are, sometimes." (pg. 271)
(FYI Autism IS NOT a mental illness, it's a disability.)
I loooooved and so APPRECIATE how this book tackled so many complex topics and treated them WELL and with total respect and impeccable research. Like, just wow and thank you to this author.
Unlike other schizophrenic books I've read, this one wasn't hard to follow. Like Challenger Deep totally wrapped my head in a taco and stomped on it -- but Made You Up just read like an average contemporary...with additions. It's also a bit of a "mystery" because there's something WEIRD going on at Alex's new school and she, Tucker, and Miles sort of get to the bottom of it. There's tons of mental illness and disability representation in ALL shapes and sizes.
OH OH! And I guessed one of the characters in Alex's life would probably be just a hallucination and OMG I WAS RIGHT ABOUT WHO I GUESSED. (view spoiler)[It was so totally her little sister Charlie, because Charlie never interacted with anyone EXCEPT Alex. I actually wondered if Tucker would be at the beginning, but nope, he was real. (hide spoiler)]
So there were a few things I didn't like. Some of the plot felt a bit..far fetched I expected a ton of stuff to be "made up" but it wasn't, and, um...yeah! Like how psycho their principal seemed to be with no one noticing, and the sub-plot around the snake, and how negligent (but loving) Alex's parents were, and how absolutely CRUEL the school was for no reason. And when Alex sneaked out of hospital Eh, probably not. Also at one point Alex and Miles are returning from A Place I Won't Name and they stop to eat and, despite never eating out nay other time (she's paranoid about poison) Alex eats without an eye blink. Hmm.
BUT BASICALLY. ALL OVER I ABSOLUTELY LOVED THIS MARVELLOUS BOOK. It's so so well written and I will be 1000% done to read anything and everything by this author. And I was actually literally choking on tears (they didn't spill, tho: I am Vulcan) and emotions and just all these super complex feelings. THIS BOOK JUST REALLY KNOTTED INTO MY SOUL AND I'LL NEVER FORGET IT.
*** EPIC QUOTES OF AWESOME ***
"But - but what if this whole place" -- I had to suck in air again -- "what if everything is inside my head East Shoal and Scarlet and this bridge and you -- what if your'e not real because nothing is real"
"if nothing's real, then what does it matter" he said. "You live here. Doesn't that make it real enough" (pg. 364)
"No, you're not a bad person," [Tucker] said. "And Richter isn't a bad person, and I'm not a bad person. We're just people, and people sometimes do stupid things."