Sadie and Max have an extremely unhealthy friendship; I think I would be safe in describing it as co-dependent. Sadie is the wild, crazy one, while Max is the worshipping caretaker. Sadie attempts to control Max, and Max hovers in Sadie’s sphere. They love each other, but is that love a good thing?
Over You is difficult, as it’s narrated by a character who essentially has no life of her own. Max is defined by Sadie, so it’s hard to connect and feel for her. Really, you’re going to spend most of the book wanting to tell Max that she can do better. She can do better than a controlling, selfish best friend like Sadie. She can do better than an asshole love interest like Dylan who dismissed her interests, her sexuality, and her entire person. Max, by the way, is bisexual, a point I thought was realistically handled, especially since the book takes place in the middle of the Bible Belt.
I think one thing to note about this book is that it’s very subtly done. There’s never really an “aha!” moment where Max turns off her obsession with Sadie and decides to do her own thing. There kind of is, but it’s still fairly gentle, very different from the abrupt door-slam that I think a lot of authors would use. Reed tends to be more even with her narration, letting things build naturally, which may or may not work for readers depending on their tastes.
But though it’s a slow process, Max does start to figure things out, and that was a wonderful process to experience. She’s not my favorite character (or really a character I liked at all), but I still thought her story was important.
“I don’t know where it’s coming from, but I have this feeling all of a sudden like she’s poison, like being near her sucks something out of me, like she sucks something out of me, and I only now realized it’s something I want to keep” (pg. 152).
As always, I’m completely amazed by Amy Reed’s prose—without a doubt, she is one of my favorite YA authors in terms of style and imagery. I feel like in Over You she got back to the gorgeous metaphoric language that so defined her debut novel, Beautiful, and was what converted me to fan status in the first place.
Another really cool thing about Over You is the tribute to Greek mythology that’s very present in this. I loved the symbology and how it was woven into the text in a very natural way. Because Max is going to be a Classics major in college and is very passionate about ancient myths, their incorporation into this story was perfect.
I think in some ways, Over You disappointed me. Up until now, I’ve only given Reed’s novels 5 stars, but I just couldn’t do that here. For me, it felt like there was something missing, and I didn’t walk away from reading this as wowed as I’ve been in my previous experiences. However, Amy Reed continues to be my favorite YA author—I think her writing is very special and important, and I would most definitely want to recommend this to any fan of the genre. Over You is a great coming-of-age novel with important messages that really highlights what being a teenager means.