Book review: "Kill All Happies" is reminiscent of 90s party movies
Posted April 25
"Kill All Happies," the latest from New York Times best-selling author Rachel Cohn is a high school party book reminiscent of 90s movies celebrating friendship, merriment and sexuality.
Main character Vic Navarro loves her small town of Rancho Soldado, her friends and Happies — the restaurant that is the town's claim to fame. When her high school graduation and the closing of Happies cosmically coincide, Vic plans a crazy party as a goodbye for the restaurant and her fellow seniors.
She is constantly thwarted by her villainous teacher Miss Ann Thrope and distracted by her friend's older brother and her long-time major crush, Jake Zavala-Kim. When the party turns out to be bigger than she imagined, Vic realizes her future may be better without plans and makes it a night to remember.
Expectations are important when reading "Kill All Happies." This is not a serious story in which all the characters learn major life lessons and choose to be better people because of it. This is a book about partying and fulfilling desires, no matter how crazy or illegal.
Cohn's characters act like typical teenagers, although they experience a wholly unrealistic night of activities, indulging in a night of pleasure to celebrate their entrance into adulthood. For most, this includes drinking heavily, hooking up with crushes, destroying property, rebelling against authority, participating in illegal drug use and fighting the urge to hold onto the past.
Writing a story where the plot takes place in a day or two sets up challenges for an author, particularly in terms of character development. While Cohn's characters come off as one-dimensional at times, and certain characters and sub-plots disappear without closure, the cast is strong enough to hold interest and make one wonder how it's going to turn out.
Cohn's familiar narrative style and ability to make Rancho Soldado a place that lives and breathes is something fans will appreciate.
"Kill All Happies" has excessive swearing, discussion of sex, underage drug and alcohol use and no violence.
Tara Creel is a Logan-native-turned-California-girl and mother of four boys. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org, and she blogs at taracreelbooks.wordpress.com.