The Chaos of Standing Still, by Jessica Brody
Publish Date: November 28, 2017
Published by: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Fiction
My Rating: ★★★☆☆ (3 out of 5 stars)
**I received this as an egalley from the publisher through Edelweiss in return for an honest review.**
Ryn has one unread text message on her phone. And it’s been there for almost a year.
She hasn’t tried to read it. She can’t. She won’t. Because that one message is the last thing her best friend ever said to her before she died.
But as Ryn finds herself trapped in the Denver International Airport on New Year’s Eve thanks to a never-ending blizzard on the one-year anniversary of her best friend’s death, fate literally runs into her.
And his name is Xander.
When the two accidentally swap phones, Ryn and Xander are thrust into the chaos of an unforgettable all-night adventure, filled with charming and mysterious strangers, a secret New Year’s Eve bash, and a possible Illuminati conspiracy hidden within the Denver airport. But as the bizarre night continues, all Ryn can think about is that one unread text message. It follows her wherever she goes, because Ryn can’t get her brialliantly wild and free-spirited best friend out of her head.
Ryn can’t move on.
But tonight, for the first time ever, she’s trying. And maybe that’s a start.
I have to say I have some mixed feelings about this book. I would like to say first that I don’t think I have ever experienced the death of someone I loved so much that it affected me deeply, so the parts where I had trouble relating to Ryn might not be the case with other readers. But unfortunately, I just could not stand her as a character or a person while I read this book. I enjoyed the airport plot and the romance greatly – it was fun, humorous, enjoyable – but Ryn just kind of made me want to slap her sometimes.
When I first started reading this, I thought that maybe I just couldn’t comprehend the closeness Ryn had to her best friend Lottie, who died the previous year. But as the story progressed, and there were more and more flashbacks to her time with Lottie, I started to feel like Ryn was just kind of obsessive and even slightly possessive of her. She was so completely over-protective, and I could not for the life of me figure out why they were even friends. I understand opposites attract and all that, but they seemed like they were two completely different species here. In fact, it was like Ryn was just caught in Lottie’s orbit and pulled along for the Lottie’s wild rides (an analogy that actually made an appearance towards the end of the book so good to know I was on the right track with that one). I just didn’t think it was a healthy friendship, and I just didn’t understand why they were friends at all.
I was also really annoyed with Ryn’s self-centeredness. She seemed to believe that no one could have it as bad as her, that no one could possibly understand her grief or her problems. And when she starts spending time with Xander, she is so in her own world she repeatedly fails to realize when he is showing her his own problems that are plaguing him. Even after he makes it clear that he isn’t happy with his parents, she still believes he has it better than she and that his problems can easily be fixed. I was just so angry and annoyed at her for being so completely obtuse about Xander’s feelings. And, of course, never once does she actually realize her mistake and apologize for it, because everything comes back to her and her issues with getting over Lottie.
The pacing of this book was good, and there were a lot of interesting side characters that really made the story interesting. And like I said, I enjoyed the airport shenanigans and the romantic plot. But since Ryn was just an unlikable and self-centered character who was obsessed with a friendship that didn’t even make sense to me, I am left with mixed feelings about this book.