As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti
My rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
What if you could ask for anything- and get it?
In the sandy Mojave Desert, Madison is a small town on the road between nothing and nowhere. But Eldon wouldn’t want to live anywhere else, because in Madison, everyone gets one wish—and that wish always comes true.
Some people wish for money, some people wish for love, but Eldon has seen how wishes have broken the people around him. And with the lives of his family and friends in chaos, he’s left with more questions than answers. Can he make their lives better? How can he be happy if the people around him aren’t? And what hope is there for any of them if happiness isn’t an achievable dream? Doubts build, leading Eldon to a more outlandish and scary thought: maybe you can’t wish for happiness…maybe, just maybe, you have to make it for yourself
Warnings: suicide, death of family member, slurs used
So, what if you could make one, just one wish? What would you wish for? That is sort of the premise of As You Wish – in a town somewhere near Area 51, the residents all get to make one wish on the day they turn 18. That wish is fulfilled, of course, but out of fear of exposure to the outside world, they have rules regarding how big the wish can be. In their town, people don’t believe in god, because they have the wishes, and it is what every kid looks forward to – the one thing that puts their future in motion. The story is told mainly from the perspective of Eldon, who is close to his 18th birthday and doesn’t know what to wish for.
The story begins some 25 days before Eldon’s Wish Day (also his 18th birthday). In his town of Madison, every teenager is basically harassed by their families and the town at large to make a wish that would be good and beneficial – the obvious choice being money, but a lot of teenagers wish for better physical attributes, and stuff. The nature of the wishes can be warped in fulfillment if the person isn’t specific enough, and at first I thought that would be central theme of the novel. Instead, it is more a reinforcement of the belief that unless something is hard-earned by you, you do not deserve it.
Conceptually, this novel was unique and had a lot going for it. There are the different ways in wishes can be fulfilled due to a wrong wording, or a smart loophole-free specification. The ways in which they can be misused, as in the case in which they use it to make another person fall in love with them (which should totally be illegal, like the murder rule the town has, but oddly they don’t think taking away another person’s choice is bad?) or waste it on something that could have been resolved another way. Eldon, in order to figure out what to wish for, goes around asking other townspeople what they wished for and whether it worked out for them or not. Obviously there are a lot of regrets, like the football player who wanted to be best in school, or a person who wished his sexuality away but forgot that love and sexuality are not the same thing, or the person who accidentally wasted his wish on a phrase. The common theme is that wishing was their personal choice and people make shitty choices sometimes. But as for whether wishes are good or bad – it doesn’t really stand on either side.
Now while the theme of the story I get, somewhat, I was not down with the main character. Eldon can best be described as Whiney McWhineface, because you know what his main problem is? He is the most popular, hottest guy in school anymore – because other’s wishes have pushed him down the ladder, so as to say. He resents his girlfriend for leaving him, and lashes out at everyone close to him. He thinks all girls are interested in him, and he continuously disregards others feelings. I get he is grieving his sister, but he is just rude and violent and selfish. His mother wants him to wish for lots of money so they might go about hiring the best specialists for an impossible case, but he doesn’t think it will work, and neither can he wish her better (I felt like this part could have been dealt a little more thought – there were creative ways to save his sister, maybe). And eventually, what does he do when it comes to making a choice? He takes away others’ – and the only character development he goes through is that he learns not to be violent? And the ending just disappointed me.
So, in summary, good base, interesting plot but terrible protagonist. I may have liked this story better had it been from the point of view of another character, like that Nori.
Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Sourcebooks Fire, via Netgalley.
2 thoughts on “ARC Review: As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti”
Ahh, I hate it when there is bad characters representation in books. The cover looks beautiful and the blurb sounds interesting too. I am sorry that you didn’t like the book. It really feels awful when this happens when we have high expectations.
I am about half way through this one and I constantly need to remind myself that Eldon lost his sister because if not I couldn’t stand him. Great review!