“Every Word” by Ellie Marney

imageMotion sickness has to be the worst of life’s little insecurities for a bookworm like me. In the past week I spent approximately twelve hours on buses, aeroplanes, and in airports getting from Canberra to Brisbane and back again. If I weren’t so cheap, I may have been able to cut that time in half, or even into thirds, by flying directly from Canberra to Brisbane instead of catching a bus to Sydney and then flying to Brisbane. But I am nothing if not a budget conscious uni student.
Time spent travelling may be the best time we get to read: no one wants to talk to you and you have hours upon hours of boredom to bust. And every time I travel I conveniently forget that if I read more than ten pages or so, I get motion sick. I used to have these magnetic wrist bands that helped me with this annoying affliction,  but I lost them in one of my moves over the past four years.
This whole motion sickness thing was especially annoying for me because I was working my way through Every Word. I wanted to read it all in one sitting like I did with Every Breath, because there really is no better way to get a feel for the story, but I physically couldn’t do it. How. Lame. So I’ve only just finished this awesome book. And now I have to wait until 2015 for the last instalment, Every Move. I’m trying really hard to forget that that is a six-month-wait-at-best scenario.

Do you remember your first very serious boyfriend/girlfriend in high school? You loved them so much and were terrified that you would do something wrong and that they wouldn’t love you anymore? The insecurity was paralysing. I started getting a complex in my final years of school, because my “relationships” didn’t last longer than a few weeks, possibly a month. I think because I wouldn’t “put out”, as my American friends would say. It was never spoken about but that is my theory anyway.
Marney nailed this teenaged insecurity perfectly. I found myself reliving my teenage trysts as I saw Mycroft and Watts navigate the awkward aftermath of Mycroft running off to London without so much as saying goodbye to Watts:

We don’t say any more. Two days ago we were kissing each other senseless. Now we can barely have a civil conversation.

Good Lord, how I can relate to that.

The thing about these characters is that they are so fundamentally flawed that they jump off the page. These guys are damaged and screwed up and not in that polished way that sometimes is the case with the “damaged goods” characters. Mycroft is properly messed up after his ordeal seven years prior to Every Breath. The car crash that killed his parents was so horrifying that we only start getting details in Every Word. Which I think is genius, because Mycroft only opens up gradually and we can get a sense of that timeline, seeing as how there was such a gap between Breath and Word. There’s no bullshit “spilling of the guts” just so the reader can understand a situation or to fit a particular scene. We are just as clueless as Watts and I love it. (The whole first-person POV is amazing for this. It’s much easier to over-share if the story is written in third person. Trust me, I’ve been there.)

What might just be my favourite thing about the whole Every series is the divide between Mycroft & Watts, Holmes & Watson. We know that the last names were by design, but in the world between the covers, the last names of James (Mycroft) and Rachel (Watts) are coincidental. Other characters joke around with the two about their last names. Mai and Gus in Every Breath used to use “Conan Doyle” as an verb for Mycroft and Watts’ investigating. And there was the whole “let’s move into a Baker Street share house”. In Every Word, Alicia (Watts’ brother’s girlfriend) takes Watts to the Sherlock Holmes Museum in Baker Street. Somewhere that is definitely on my bucket list as a place that I really want to visit. She buys Watts a box of matches with Sherlock’s famous silhouette emblazoned on the cardboard and then leave so Watts can try and take care of Mycroft.

“Don’t forget,” Alicia says, grinning at me, “Sherlock’s closest human relationship was with Watson.”
“Yeah. Wonderful. If only I was an ex-British-army medical officer with a gimpy leg and a moustache, I’d be in with a shot.”

It’s just … genius. Pure genius. Especially when the Sherlock/Watson coincidence leaves Watts and Mycroft’s circle of loved ones. [SPOILER] We discover in the course of Watts and Mycroft’s investigations into the theft of Shakespeare’s First Folio (worth six million pounds) that the “carjacking” that killed Mycroft’s parents was actually a hit carried out by the shadowy figure known as The Colonel organised by an even shadowier figure who calls himself Moriarty.  I didn’t realise how much I wanted that to happen until I read that scene. See, the characters take the joke and run with it. Mycroft runs a website called Diogenes (sound familiar?) and so when the bad guy uses Diogenes to contact Mycroft, he too runs with the joke. Only, I think he means it as a threat. Because, from what I remember of the original Conan Doyle canon, Moriarty was the villain who “killed” Holmes.

Note to future writers: if you’re going to have a gimmick in your book, make sure the characters find it hilarious as well. Otherwise no one will believe you.

Like I said in my Every Breath review, Marney really understands the romantic tension in adolescent relationships. Not only does Marney understand the feeling of before but she totally grasps  during. Some writers never quite get it right, the chemistry between two teenagers in love. But Marney totally does. It feels like the beginning, middle, and end of your life when you look at that other person.

As my hands slide under his T-shirt, over the warm, soft skin of his waist, he makes a shuddering jerk.
I stop. “Are you ribs … Are my hands cold?”
“No, god, your hands …” He swallows. “That’s just really … It’s …”
“Sensitive?”
“Yes,” he whispers.
A thrill of power sings through me as I watch him with his eyes squeezed shut. It’s one high, crystalline note that obliterates every thought.
I trace my fingers lower, to the silken line of his hip. “And here?”
“Yes—” His voice cracks on the word.
“Here?” I’m fishing for a reaction now. My hands trails across his stomach, feeling the swell and dip of muscle. I scratch my fingernails through the short, soft hairs between his navel and the button of his jeans.
Rachel—”
“Here is good?”
“Yes. Yes. Christ.” He shivers – it seems to echo down into the core of his being. “We can’t.”
“Why not?”
“Because we’re being held captive in a grungy warehouse. Because you have a broken knee. Because I have cracked ribs. Because—”

 

Now that, while being so goddamn hot, also shows the intensity of that first love and the very first time that kissing leads into what can only be described as foreplay. However, these two get interrupted. Like Mycroft said, they were being held captive. So there was never any real degree of privacy. But what this interruption means is that It has to happen next book. Because both we and Rachel, and Mycroft I suppose, have been left hanging.

Mycroft reminds me a lot of Will Herondale. Not just in looks, but in his backstory. I mean, Will was a touch more saintly than James Mycroft, but they have both had troubled pasts and they both find salvation and sanctuary in love. Will with Tessa and Mycroft with Watts. It’s what makes the intensity of the teenage relationships so believable. We all feel like the one we love in school is The One, but that doesn’t work in books.
Reality is very rarely believable on paper, because as we read we recognise the craziness that is the belief that our first love will be our only love. So we are given characters who go through hell together and we know that no one else in the whole wide world would understand what they’ve gone through, so they stay together. It’s why, at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, when we see that Harry and Ginny are still together, and Ron and Hermione, we don’t question it. Because who else would understand the things they went through as kids at Hogwarts? So I’m just going to leave you with Mycroft’s monologue as he talks to a barely-conscious Watts in their tiny cell in God-knows-where England:

“… just saw these long brown legs and your boots, the flange shirt, and your hair, god, your gorgeous hair. Do you remember? And then Mai introduced you, and you looked so spy  out. I didn’t even realise it was your first day in an actual high school … wanted to get to know you. I just thought, fucking hell, I’ve got this super-smart bombshell living two doors away, maybe the gods have finally given me a break …
all that time, with you in my room, and I wanted to touch you, my god, so badly … and I just couldn’t believe you’d stuck around, I never met anyone else who saw me like that. And I … just didn’t want to fuck that up, d’you know what I mean? So I thought if I sorted myself out, then I’d be a whole person, because you deserve a whole person. But it doesn’t quite work like … not like a jigsaw puzzle. You don’t get the pieces together and there’s this magical sense of completion, it’s … but if you knew the details then maybe you’d get scared off, or you’d think ‘Shit, this guy is a lot of hard work’ and … bloody terrifying, this feeling like this is it, like you’re the one, but I just…”

Oh, OK, I lied. One more thing. The cover! I thought the models on the covers were amazing. They perfectly lined up with the images Marney evoked in the books. Even the fact that Mycroft looks a little like my interpretation of Will Herondale. So, one day, when I was considering buying one last book before I go on book-buying hiatus, I found a cheaper version of the book I want. But I backed up fast when I had a closer look at the cover.

So this is Every Breath:

and this is Thirteen Reasons Why:

She’s a stock image. My Watts is a stock image. I could hear my heart break. You know, just a little.

★★★★1/2

Update:
So this popped up on my Twitter feed the other day. My ego may have been slightly enlarged after seeing it:

Screen Shot 2014-07-04 at 8.34.52 PM

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About Bec Graham

Bec Graham, 24, was born on the wrong continent. Everything from her burns-like-paper skin tone to her inability to cope with the slightest hint of a hot day suggests she should have been born under the gloomy skies and mild sun of the UK. She hopes writing will get her to her rightful home one day. Failing that, she scans the skies for a spinning blue police box, hoping to catch a lift back to the motherland.
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One Response to “Every Word” by Ellie Marney

  1. Pingback: End of 2014 Book Survey | My Infernal Imagination

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