Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

Title: Places No One Knows
Author: Brenna Yovanoff
Series: N/A
Pages: 384
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: May 17th 2016 

      “Waverly Camdenmar spends her nights running until she can’t even think. Then the sun comes up, life goes on, and Waverly goes back to her perfectly hateful best friend, her perfectly dull classes, and the tiny, nagging suspicion that there’s more to life than student council and GPAs.
      Marshall Holt is a loser. He drinks on school nights and gets stoned in the park. He is at risk of not graduating, he does not care, he is no one. He is not even close to being in Waverly’s world.
      But then one night Waverly falls asleep and dreams herself into Marshall’s bedroom—and when the sun comes up, nothing in her life can ever be the same. In Waverly’s dreams, the rules have changed. But in her days, she’ll have to decide if it’s worth losing everything for a boy who barely exists.

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“By the time I get home, my nighttime restlessness is starting to set it. I’m ready to peel off my sweater and shrug out of my day. Shrug out of my life. Night is when I mind the most that everything feels fake.”

Brenna Yovanoff’s newest endeavor, Places No One Knows, is a nontraditional contemporary read that fuses reality with fantasy. Yovanoff is known for her darker novels, often with a paranormal twist, so I was interested to see what she would do with her latest novel. Yovanoff employs the use of insomnia and the strange, unknown place we go in our sleep to bring about a unique novel that is wonderfully atmospheric. Waverly Camdenmar is pristine on the outside. Her grades are perfect and she and her best friend are quickly climbing the social ladder. But her nights are spent struggling to fall asleep and when she begins to slip into a dreamlike state that leads her to Marshall, a slacker that doesn’t seem to care about anything, she unexpectedly finds refuge and the first person who sees her for who she really is.

Yovanoff is very candid when describing her characters. Many of them are not likeable, but there is an honesty in the perspectives of Waverly and Marshall that make them characters to root for, despite their unlikable qualities. Though Waverly has internalized all the positive responses and the right amount of enthusiasm needed to convince everyone she’s the kind of girl that has everything, on the inside she’s a mess. She isn’t living, she’s merely playing a part and at the end of the day when the lights go out and no one is looking at her, it begins to wear her down. Conformity is a way for Waverly to survive in a world where she’s always felt out of place, where her interests were regarded with disparagement. Her secret relationship with Marshall feels like freedom, where she can just be herself, away from the over-bearing expectations of other people. The problem comes when her insecurities hold her back from embracing who she really is in the real world.

Although Waverly’s personality comes across much more distinctly in the beginning of the novel, by the end I think I gained a better understanding of Marshall’s character. On the outside he’s a typical apathetic teen, more interested in getting high than doing homework. He’s Waverly’s polar opposite and not just in the most obvious ways. When Waverly first meets him, he’s nothing more than a drugged-out nobody, but Waverly learns that he isn’t everything he appears to be on the outside. He’s been drowning in a sea of hopelessness and as the story unfolds, I found myself needing a happy ending for him. I don’t want to give too much away about Marshall because I think his development as a characters is a really rewarding thing to read.

There are a couple of side characters that do come across a little too overly simplified. Waverly’s best friend Maribeth is your typical underhanded mean girl, who would sell your soul to the devil with a smile on her face. We know that at some point she was a different person, someone Waverly could rely on, and I would have liked to have seen a glimpse of this in her characterization. While the novel focuses on Waverly and Marshall’s growing relationship, I was really interested in the evolution of Waverly’s friendship with the rebellious Autumn. Waverly slowly begins to fall out of love with her best friend Maribeth and finds commonality with Autumn. This I liked; however, it did feel like Autumn didn’t quite have her own character arc. Overall, this was a really enjoyable read and my favorite Brenna Yovanoff novel so far.

Rating: 4/5


23 thoughts on “Places No One Knows by Brenna Yovanoff

  1. I’ve never read anything by Brenna Yovanoff and hadn’t even heard of this book but it does sound interesting. I like the idea of reading characters that aren’t necessarily upstanding but still ones you root for. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m starting to think the if authors want a deeper look at apathetic out struggling teens, they could read some Jonathan Kozol. I’m currently reading Fire in the Ashes, and Kozol describes numerous teens like Marshall.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. They’re actually journalism/essay books. He’s followed the same children for 25+ years to watch how they survive severe poverty, racial bias, and poor schools. He also befriends them; he’s not a cold weirdo, of course!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This sounds really interesting. The concept sounds like it holds a bit of magical realism maybe? I always like when authors explore things like dreams, what happens when we sleep, etc. It sounds good. I’ll have to keep an eye out for this book.

    Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Places No One Knows sounds so intriguing. I’m adding this to my TBR (seriously!) I just finished a book with overly generalized characters, so Waverly and Marshall’s layers and layers of personality is such an attraction right now. Awesome review, Alicia!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I didn’t know too much about this one, but I’ve been meaning to try it because it’s been hyped so much. I’m looking forward to it! I didn’t know that the writer traditionally writes darker lit. I’ll be sure to check this one out when in the mood for a deep read. The writing sounds fantastic. Great review!

    – Eli @ The Silver Words

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This sounds amazing (I probably say that to most books but this truly does sound spectacular). Waverly, from what you’ve said, seems like such a real character. I mean, I’ve read most books whose characters just seem too “made up”, if that makes sense. I am now super interested in this book. Wonderful review. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I saw that you reviewed this book last week and held off reading the review until today because I was stuck in the middle of it and I, honestly, didn’t need an excuse to abandon it if you didn’t like it. I see here, in a much better review than I wrote, by the way, that you did like it. I liked the second half. Though I am critical of how I slowly poked along in the book and think my reading technique detracted from my enjoyment. Here is my review if you want to see what I had to say about it.

    Liked by 1 person

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