ARC Review: All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

Posted April 26, 2018 by Madalyn || 8 Comments

ARC Review: All of This Is True by Lygia Day PeñaflorAll of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor
Published by HarperTeen on May 15th 2018
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher

In this gripping, genre-defying YA novel, four Long Island teens befriend a bestselling YA novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book—with devastating consequences. Told as a series of interviews, journal entries, and even pages from the book within the book, this recounting of a fictional scandal is a total page-turner.

Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined. . . .

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Thanks so much to Alice @ Arctic Books for hosting an ARC tour of All of This Is True and letting me participate!

I was extremely excited to read All of This Is True— it received some awesome early reviews, the premise sounded mysterious and twisty, and the hype has been steadily ramping up in the blogging community. However, this book ended up being a bit of a letdown for me.

This story follows four teenagers who calculatedly befriend their favorite YA author, only to find out later that the author has used their lives as the premise of her new book. All of This Is True is told from four perspectives: Miri (through interviews), Penny (also through interviews), Soleil (through her emails and text messages), and “fictional” excerpts from Fatima Ro’s book told through “Brady” AKA Jonah’s perspective. If that sounds confusing, that’s because it was. I wanted so badly for this format to work, but it ended up being kind of a mess.

Right off the bat, I was thrown by the format of this book. It’s told in a series of documents, interviews, emails, and excerpts, but much of the mediums and perspectives are too similar to easily discern between them. Also, eventually the fictional parts of the story started becoming meshed with the real elements. I’m not sure if this was intentional commentary on the author’s part, or simply just unintentionally confusing.

Also, I just did not find this story as twisty or compelling as the book makes itself out to be. I’ll be vague in this section to avoid spoilers, but I pretty much predicted every “plot twist,” which made for a boring reading experience since so much of the book is buildup to these revelations. All of these characters make mistakes, which is fine because they’re teenagers, but I didn’t feel like any of them really learned from their experiences. I especially think Jonah is pretty irredeemable. The book, in my eyes, aims to make you question right and wrong, but I had no sympathy for him or his actions. Miri and Soleil were both blinded by their own experiences and couldn’t look at the situation wholistically. Penny was the only character whose perspective I even marginally enjoyed reading from.

As for Fatima Ro, I feel like the reader is supposed to have these deep questions and really think about whether she’s a villain or not, but I truly do not care. Like, at all. She did what she did, and it’s done.

I will say, this book was extremely readable. It’s about 400 pages, and I read it in just over two hours. However, I finished the book feeling unsatisfied. I thought certainly the story was leading up to a big question or theme or reveal, but it ended up falling flat for me.

Overall, I think maybe this just wasn’t my kind of book? Maybe I’m not *~cerebral~* enough to appreciate the questions and commentary it poses, but I believe the narrative was just not well-crafted enough to make me care about the themes it attempts to address.


Have you read All of This Is True? What’s your take on this book?

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Madalyn

Madalyn is a 20-something music student and lifelong lover of reading. When she's not reading or singing, you're likely to find her drinking coffee, traveling, or buying more lipstick than one person could possibly need.
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8 responses to “ARC Review: All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

  1. I seriously couldn’t agree more! I actually really like books where each character/point of view has a different media/format (like HELLO by Lisa Weimer I think), but this wasn’t done super well.

    The plot was not even close to twisty for me. I figured it all out so early and felt annoyed that none of the characters did. I didn’t care about any characters, especially Fatima.

    I read the book in one sitting because I kept hoping and thinking that JUST around the corner would be the big twist I was hoping for… but I got to the end and was like THAT’S IT?

  2. I am set to read this one soonish. Sorry it was a let down. I am saddened to see your review and Lauren’s comment above. Honestly, I don’t usually mind see a plot twist coming (I just pat myself on the back for being so smart), but I do expect to be entertained. =/

  3. Oh wow, this does sound really interesting, so I hate that it didn’t work for you. I love when books try to go outside the box! This is definitely one I’d expect to be really twisty though, so seeing the plot twists coming is a definite let down. :/ Thanks for sharing!

  4. So much agreement. I should have taken your word for it when you said it wasn’t a win, because I had basically the same thoughts! I also kept getting confused about who was who and whose section it was. No one’s personality stood out so when it transitioned I didn’t even notice sometimes, oops. And as an eARC, it was even harder because some of the formatting was… well, you know how it can be hah. Same with the twists, same with Fatima (why am I supposed to care about this person?) Sorry it didn’t work for you either, but fabulous review!

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