Title: Five Feet Apart
Author: Rachael Lippincott
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publication date: 10th January 2019 (UK)
When I started reading this book, I believed the rights had been purchased in order for it to me made into a film. It is only on finishing the book I’ve realised that it was actually written as a screenplay and then adapted into a book by Rachael Lippincott.
I point this out as, now that I know this, I have a better understanding of why this book is so problematic.
When I first became aware of the book I was itching to get my hands on it. I am not afraid to say I am a huge fan of The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and I was pleased to see CF (Cystic Fibrosis) getting some coverage. Books like this go a long way to raising awareness of CF.
Sadly this book just didn’t do it for me. Initially, I was just frustrated with the prose, but this quickly progressed to the plot. I just couldn’t give myself over to it – there were too many things that were unbelievable and unrealistic. I couldn’t believe that two 17-year-olds could be thrown together in a chance encounter and fall helplessly in love to the point they were willing to risk their lives. The book tries to sell the idea that it was love – true love, love at first sight (and all those other overdone tropes) – but unfortunately, I wasn’t buying what they were selling.
In terms of character development, that was an opportunity missed. Most of the characters have a complicated background and their own motivations behind their behaviour, but there were just too many of them to get any depth. I would’ve liked to have seen some of them scaled back and others developed further so I could get more emotionally invested in the story.
When this was swiftly followed by a dodgy ending clearly intended to leave it open for a sequel I was grossly disappointed. I don’t want to spoil the ending but again, it’s not to be believed.
I am curious to know how close this book is to the screenplay. I hate writing negative reviews, and find it especially troublesome and problematic in a case like this where the novel has been adapted from the screenplay. Is it because they wanted to stay true to the screenplay, or because they had to? Is it just down to taking on something quite complex as a debut novel? I’m not sure what the answer is.
If Lippincott wrote another book I think I’d read it, but Five Feet Apart isn’t the advocate for CF I thought it’d be.
Many thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Have you read Five Feet Apart? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!