Review: You Know What You Have To Do by Bonnie Shimko

Review: You Know What You Have To Do by Bonnie Shimko
You Know What You Have To Do
by Bonnie Shimko

Genres: Horror, Thriller, Young Adult
Publication date: March 26, 2013
by Skyscape

Format: eARC


Amazon | Book Depository

This quirky, appealing YA novel turns formulaic teen fiction on its head as funny, feisty fifteen year-old Mary-Magdalene Feigenbaum (otherwise known as Maggie) suddenly faces more than the usual typical YA concerns: a voice in her head that is telling her to kill people. Not just anyone—each time the target is someone who has done something terrible to a person Maggie cares for. You know what you have to do, the voice commands. Maggie struggles to resist, but the voice is relentless.

With rising suspense, this story of psychological horror introduces a narrator whose own unique voice and irreverent humor are unforgettable—an unlikely hero fighting a desperate battle against incomprehensible evil.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

If there’s anything that YKWYHTD has, it’s an interesting premise. A character that has a voice in her head that tells her to kill people? How intriguing is that? I thought to myself this would be a freakin’ awesome setting and one that would lead to a lot of drama, conspiracies, and other good stuff. The fact that it has a quirky character and an even quirkier internal monologue is A. Unfortunately, I don’t know why, but along the way, it just kinda fell.

It’s not really the writing’s fault, though. I loved the way it was written – personal and realistic. You can totally feel the various bottled up emotions Maggie, the main character, was experiencing and I think that’s a feat that not all writers have accomplished. But I guess my problems stem from purely subjective reasons.

See, I can’t really decipher if the heroine is a hero, or an anti-hero. Sure, one can probably see she has common sense and all, and a nice girl at heart, but in many instances in the book, you see her doing things that are just… unforgivable, and I can’t, for the life of me, understand why she did those when prior to that, she implied that she wasn’t that kind of person. Killing is wrong, especially when you really don’t have a ground reason to do such (like self-defense), and especially if you have a voice in your head telling you so, because that’s just screwed-up, dude. But the heroine does all of these inexcusable acts, anyway, giving in to this suspicious voice in her head, allowing it to control not only her life, but others, too.

You’re not god. You’re not even the law. Please don’t pretend to be one and think you have the absolute right to decide who deserves to live or not. Especially not when you know only certain parts of the picture.

I do understand, though, that this is fiction, so I try not to cloud my judgement based on these personal feelings of mine, but if you keep on reading a story of a character who says one thing and does another, it gets a tad bit annoying (and a cause of bad migraines. No joke, I did get a headache from this). I feel it was some sort of attempt to make the heroine more complex, an attempt to allude human beings as complicated creatures, full of contradictions. How can someone not want to be a killer, but murder in the name of a self-righteous justice at the same time? Yeah, it’s all in her head, maybe so, maybe not… but still. And I find it even more hard to believe that the heroine gets away with it. It was disturbing.

I did enjoy it to a certain extent, though. Then we get to the ending, and I’m like, “That’s it?” The ending was really disappointing, and I didn’t feel that there was any real, good closure. No real, logical, and satisfying explanations why there was a voice in her head encouraging her to bloody her hands, and not even a yearning to get rid of it. The end pretty much implies “What the heck, I have it, might as well use it!”. Even though it has a Robin Hood-ish aspect to it, it still felt so wrong.

Needless to say, I do indeed think it could have been better, and the chain of events could have been done in a different way. I don’t really like that there’s no real storyline – just a teen trying to resist a voice in her head telling her to kill people, her giving in, getting more frustrated and contradicted with herself, etc. etc. and then that’s it. I really was expecting for more. I may read it again with a more open mind someday, and then perhaps I may appreciate it.

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A 21 years old Filipina who loves books, games, languages, and most especially, food. Secretly wishes to be an astronaut so she can explore the stars. Has a love-hate relationship with Philippine politics. To get in her good graces, offer her Foie Gras, Or shrimp. Or a JRPG. A YA sci-fi book works, too. You can follow her on twitter here: @kawaiileena


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