Pretty Unlikely: Bloody Extended Edition - Emily Hodson
First things first, I won a copy of this book in a First Reads Giveaway on Goodreads.

Secondly, this maybe young adult but it's not for children. The protagonist is 17 years old. She talks like one and acts like one. One that is brash, crass and has a smart ass mouth. I like that about Anna though and wouldn't have a problem with my teen reading this. For younger teens, I think that really depends on the teenager themselves. Be warned though there's nothing “clean” about Anna or her language. That's not to say she's a bad person or has no redeeming qualities though.

In General:

I liked this book. The cover and blurb drew me in. I think the premise is so interesting. The quote and the acknowledgments was heart-warming and appreciated. I have an idea what the main points and driving forces are but every event really came as a surprise. The characters were certainly lively and you love or hate them. Because of that, the unpredictability and the writing style this book seemed to be either loved or hated. Clearly not for everyone. I enjoyed it so much though. It was refreshing to have a woman protagonist that wasn't the typical good girl. She's not sanctimonious. She's trying to do the right thing, correct a wrong and save a friend. She has her faults and flaws though. She sees things a certain way and sticks to her guns. Sure, she doesn't think things through and doesn't do the smartest things but she's a teenager. Anna's a nice break from the norm. It gets a bit dull and tiring reading the same woman character over and over again. I like the variety and think it's great that teens that don't identify with the norm have a book specifically for them.

There were some decisions even I had trouble understanding. There's a reason for all that though. It's not suppose to make sense or be what normal people would do. It's hinted at in the original beginning, made clear in the alternate beginning and hammered home with the ending; Anna is really, truly especially different. I think that's a good test to know whether or not you can get into this book. Does the moral hit home for you? Can you let go of normal? Can you be out of this world different? That's how riding around in Anna's head made me feel, like I was Anna. I was already connected and I think it really hits home if you let Anna be Anna and enjoy the ride, if you can.

As for the writing and Anna's voice, I was able to adjust to it. I can see how it would turn off, turn away and bug some people. I looked at it differently though and enjoyed the ride. Sure, I struggled a bit getting into it at first but once I acclimated it was easy to get into Anna's grove and flow. Yeah, an editor would have helped to edit, refine and polish it up. However, the base was good and I could see where the author was going with this style. I didn't think it was bad at all. I found it to be just fine. I think a bit of work would have pushed into great territory. There were great moments though, like on pg 272, messing with our heads to who was coming to dinner was nicely done. I'm thinking there's going to be improvement in the next book and being inside the head of an other is going to prove so interesting and twisting, it already is, but I think it's going to go into overdrive. I think that trying out how I took might be helpful to people but, of course, I understand if that doesn't work for everyone.

The style is, to me at least, like a stream of conscience narration only edited by the person speaking like someone recalling when recording their story. We were inside Anna's head and how Anna saw things. Let's face it, your voice inside your head is a terrible writer. You forget things, wonder, repeat, rationalize, exaggerate, deny and alter things. It gives a picture how a person really thinks yet is unreliable for how things really are. For instance, saying that she [Anna] almost puked from how dirty the kitchen was when the only thing described was a banana peel and crumbs, and blaming the break up of her mother's 5 year boyfriend on the fact her mother had sex soon in the relationship. Does that really make much sense? Not really, but it does to Anna. Just like it does when you talk about what a slob your roommate is or what an annoying co-worker you have. It's grows in proportion to how much you dislike someone and obviously everyone has different limits.

I question whether or not Shirley is as much of a "easy tramp" Anna makes her out to be. I don't find that as a fault to Anna thought. She's an angry, hurt teenager who's perception is colored a certain way and is lashing out. Anna thinks she's competing with her mother and instead of winning and her mom being the typical frumpy droopy mother who puts everything else before her looks, Anna is losing to a smoking hot mom. As seen in the scene with Tom coming to their rescue with the tow truck. Like the girl in school who calls another girl a slut even though that girl is a virgin, simply because they like the same boy. It's terribly insightful and I keep these things in mind when getting into Anna's head. Anna's being truthful to her perspective, but everybody's perspective is skewed. Anna is just slanted a totally different way that the norm and it's an adjustment.

The thing is it didn't feel like a horror. I wasn't really scared at all during the book. I was more fascinated with where it was going and frustrated with reactions from the background characters toward the "monster". Societies treatment of people that are different is horrific and certainly traumatic for many people but that's not what people are looking for in the horror genre. I think I just didn't find it scary since my fears weren't the monster under the bed but the monster living in my father's bedroom. I just sympathized so much with Isaiah I wasn't scared of him. There were tense, suspenseful moments when I worried his inhuman nature would win out because he's never been socialized. My real fear and hatred was towards society at large in this book being so cruel and closed minded. I don't think Anna and crew handled it very well but I don't think most people would be able to either. There's leeway since the situation is so out there it's mere speculation on how people would or should act. For me the characters stayed in character. I think Anna's treatment of Bobby's ADD (on pg 191) is important. The moral isn't just for people who look different, it's for people who think differently, act differently as well. Not everyone is neurotypical or wired the same way. Ableism is a real, important issue and I give props for the author bringing it up. That little moment made me really connect and like Anna so much more.

I wasn't really into the romance aspect of the book either. I was more pulled by the intrigue and tension suspended throughout the book. It was what the characters were going to do and interacted with each other. I honestly have no clue how the rest of the trilogy is going to turn out. Possibilities are turning around in my mind but anything can happen. That's what I liked and look forward to figuring out. I still don't even know what kind of monsters those close to Anna are, the teeth sure are throwing me for a loop. I like that. It's keeping me intrigued and interested.

As for Suspending Disbelief, Buying into the Story and the Logic of it All:

It really depends but I think in general this book will push to the limits. I understand those who fight it, hate it and don't believe what's going on. I personally think this is done on purpose to illustrate and hit the moral home hard. To make people really put themselves in Others shoes. Now most of what goes on in the story is beyond reality but it has its applications and implications to our everyday life. The challenge is Anna. She's not immediately likeable and that's the point. If she was immediately likeable, she wouldn't be an outsider and outcast. I accepted it, went with it and thought it was part of the book's charm.

I didn't find it hard at all to suspend my disbelief that no one found the secret rooms in Anna's new house. I'm sure the scientist fudged the blueprints and built the room himself. No one probably questioned it, measured it and wondered why the dimensions didn't add up.

As for Anna being the only one to hear the knocking and tapping from the "monster", it tipped me off to her being different. It didn't bother me at all and felt believable. Living in old houses and rough neighborhoods has made it obvious how well people are at blocking things out and not noticing things. Of course there's also the fact that the house could have been empty for who knows how long after the scientist. Since people were mad at the scientist it wouldn't surprise me if the area had past around bad
rumors about the place so the house stayed empty for awhile. There's always that one house in the neighborhood kids made up stories about and stays empty. With the current economy there's more empty houses then ever as well.

On pg 177 Anna is sad, depressed, distressed and angry over the capture of Isaiah. She's confused and I wasn't offended or bothered by Anna's off handed joke about the cop that was kill by Isaiah in self-defense. Sometimes the best jokes can be heard at crime scenes as a way to cope with dealing with such gruesome things. It's a kind of shock, disbelieving and disassociation type of thing. Dealing with victims and witnesses of violent crimes I don't find it at all surprising. Bobby called Anna out on it immediately and Anna felt bad about it anyways.

It didn't bother me how Anna took off with Bobby and his friends for the day either. Considering how screwed she was with no other options, she might as well go chill out for a bit. Who knows, relaxing and taking your mind off things is a technique people do all the time when struggling with a problem.

No, none of that really threw me for a loop. The police corruption and actions weren't surprising either. There's plenty like that in real life. The fact the cops then went over the top with breaking into the house just drove home the point that there's a giant conspiracy about the monsters in the world.

I was taken back a bit how Anna and Bobby just went on with their date after Isaiah killed the cop in order to save them. My thought was “Damn, she really is different.” So she's different and doesn't react normally to situations. She's also a teenager who wasn't thinking things through to not leave Isaiah alone or leave the cop's body in the open. I got that, even without reading the author's blog post about it. It honestly came off how the author wanted it to, to me at least.

I don't agree with the other reviewers about Anna's father either. He's been described as an alcoholic who gave his daughter a sip of beer when she was 5 yet he was a loving family guy. People have brought up how at odds that sounds. That's the thing though, people are very contradictory like that.

For instance, my grandmother was an alcoholic yet she was indeed a very loving, caring family person. She has a lot of difficulties in life and she escaped into drinking. All my memories where of us hanging out and playing together. Good, fond happy memories. She was still a great mother to my mom and uncles as well. She did eventually die several years ago due to the damage to her liver.

On the other hand, my father was the stereotypical family destroying uncaring bastard of an alcoholic. Yet even without the drinking, he was just a bad person which was evident after he sobered up for awhile. He went back to drinking and is still going as the small town drunk.

An alcoholic doesn't necessarily mean they get black out drunk everyday. They could do it once a month or a couple of months and still be considered an alcoholic because once they start drinking they can't stop. Sure, there are plenty of alcoholics that follow the regular pattern but alcoholism isn't a one size fits all kind of disease. It varies so much and really Anna's description of her father does indeed work. As does her missing him and needing to connect with him despite the fact he may not be a good influence.

Plus, in the small town I grew up in, in Michigan nonetheless, it wasn't all that uncommon for parents, usually fathers, to give their kids a taste of beer. I've never known a kid to enjoy it and usually the fathers find it funny. These are normal non-alcoholic fathers too. It's just a different take on alcohol is all.

Pet Peeves:

I don't get why people are ragging on the rat, Edmund. Rats are awesome pets. They are intelligent, playful and loving creatures. Some ride in your pocket, or on a shoulder in a hoodie. I've known several people with rats as pets and find them absolutely endearing. I've even known people who have captured rats in their homes and kept them as pet. Took them to the vet, got them all checked and taken care of and they've been a great addition to their families. Rats get such a bad rap, it's really sad. Now it certainly looks like Edmund as a purpose in the story though it hasn't been revealed yet. That's even been confirmed by the author, Emily Hodson. However, Edmund is a pet rat, so why all the demand for there to be a point in having him? I don't think people would be so judgmental if Anna had found a dog and kept it as a pet. The way Anna adopted and took care of Edmund just made me like and appreciate Anna. I thought it was touching.

I don't like or approve of Anna's use of slut, tramp and whore but not because of a silly reason like "vulgar language". Fuck that shit. Nope, I'm against it because I'm a feminist and hate Slut Shaming. It bugged me and I didn't like that part of Anna but not enough to stop reading. I'm used to how mainstream all of that is and have learned to fight my battles or avoid things if I'm at risk for getting pushed over the edge. Now if she was a sanctimonious religious person slut shaming women, I might I have rage quit since that's just too much. Anna does it because of our sexist patriarchal society and has learned it that way. I get that, hell I used to be like that. I can't really hold it against Anna for not being a feminist at 17. It's not like she's out protesting against abortion rights or anything actively harmful.

In Regard to Other Reviews:

Now, when I'm looking at reviews I compare and contrast what was liked or hated, who's making the review and why those things were good or bad. So how does one reconcile the good reviews and the bad? Since there's so many conflicting responses I wanted to explain how things came off to me, why I enjoyed it and why I don't agree with the other reviews. Obviously, reviews are subjective and I'm not arguing against people not liking the book. It's simply my take on it since it seems like positive reviews so far have given generalities. I wanted to give in depth specifics. Explain if I liked the book despite or because of those so called negative things, or if I disagree and didn't view the same thing the same way. I just want to be as complete as possible so people looking into this book can get as much information as possible.

There's a couple facts that I do feel reviewers got wrong due to misconceptions and things were misconstrued. Firstly, one reviewer brought up how they've never heard of a law school with a dorm for students and called out this lack of real information. Well, for starters there are plenty of law schools with dorms on campus, like the University of Michigan Law in Ann Arbor, where Anna's brother was attending. Also, there's campus dorms for New York, UCLA, Charlottesvile, Chicago and many more. A simple Google check would have cleared up this misconception. Plus calling the parent that's paying for all of Tanner's school would indeed be a heavy threat because that parent holds sway since they hold the purse strings. I find that totally believable personally.

In another review, Anna was characterized as associating pine trees with war but liking the monstrous trees back home. It never says Anna associates pine trees in general with war, or at least no where that I could find at all. It was specific gathering of dying pine trees around the new house, which she didn't want to move into to begin with. The passage in the book actually reads as
It [her new home] was also surrounded by dead, drooping little green pine trees. They looked like a lifeless army, the way they were spread out around the whole house, just dead and depressing. It made me think of war and bombs and death. I didn't like that."
I think to describe it in such general terms is disingenuous and misleading.

Hmmm, I might be a tad touchy about that because saying it that way makes Anna sound crazy yet if it was true I don't see what's wrong with that association. I mean Anna is weird, different and has plenty of other flaws to pick on, it just felt off to pick on such a thing. To be honest it's a bit annoying to find people complaining that Anna wasn't normal. She's crazy with mood swings and nothing she does makes sense. There are mast er story tellers like Poe who have used this technique to great success. A.M. Homes' latest novel at least has the same kind of rambling, weird association is this dude mentally stable character and it's been mostly loved for that fact. Did people really find the writing in Pretty Unlikely that bad? If so, either we have completely different tastes in writing or there's been massive editing since those reviews because I honestly don't see the problem. I don't know. Is it because Anna's a woman? Because she is the exact opposite of what woman are trained to be like? It's utterly baffling to me and I find it so annoying that Anna's being picked on for not being neurotypical. But that's me and I get that other people's opinions are their own.

Okay, so that last one is just me disagreeing with the generalization. However, the same reviewer goes on to talk about Anna being at odds with not feeling comfortable answering the door in revealing pj's but okay to go to the store in the same outfit. Here's the thing though, that's not true. The revealing pj's were her mother, Shirley's, and Anna talked about going to the grocery store in baggy pj pants and a tank top. Answering the door when you're a young woman home alone and not comfortable with what you're wearing makes perfect sense to me. The quotes on pg 25,
“Jeez, it was only the grocery store. Whenever I went to a grocery store, I just wore my baggy pajama pants and tank.”

Right after the description of her current revealing clothes, she says,
“ I felt like these pajamas were very exposing and over the top. I had forgotten to pack pajamas for the day we'd be without all our stuff and these were embarrassingly Shirley’s only spare pj's.”
Why she was nervous answering the door,
“What if these guys [movers] were perverts? I was all alone and wouldn't be able to defend myself if they were hitting on me. Shirley was gone for who knew how long.”

So either the reviewers are misremembering or there's been lots of editing between those reviews and the end of August when I got my copy of the book. There's been at least some editing in the book for sure though. The parts where Anna calls the host a hostess (pg 8)and says the traffic light was orange (pg 12) have been corrected. That's always nice to see, especially since I'm usually the one pointing those kinds of nit-picky little things out. It's awesome that an author appreciates that and fixed it. I don't know if the author corrected the other passages though or just stuck to changing incorrect words. Whatever the case, at least people can know now that these things are no longer an issue.