ARC Review: The Movie Version by Emma Wunsch

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I received this eARC via the publisher from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All quotes are from the ARC and subject to change.


28818346Title: The Movie Version
Author: Emma Wunsch
Publisher: Amulet Books
Release Date: October 11th, 2016
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Format: eARC
Goodreads Synopsis:

In the movie version of Amelia’s life, the roles have always been clear. Her older brother, Toby: definitely the Star. As popular with the stoners as he is with the cheerleaders, Toby is someone you’d pay ten bucks to watch sweep Battle of the Bands and build a “beach party” in the bathroom. As for Amelia? She’s Toby Anderson’s Younger Sister. She’s perfectly happy to watch Toby’s hijinks from the sidelines, when she’s not engrossed in one of her elaborately themed Netflix movie marathons.

But recently Toby’s been acting in a very non-movie-version way. He’s stopped hanging out with his horde of friends and started obsessively journaling and disappearing for days at a time. Amelia doesn’t know what’s happened to her awesome older brother, or who this strange actor is that’s taken his place. And there’s someone else pulling at her attention: a smart, cute new boyfriend who wants to know the real Amelia—not Toby’s Sidekick. Amelia feels adrift without her star, but to best help Toby—and herself—it might be time to cast a new role: Amelia Anderson, leading lady.

2STARRATINGBNM


This book wasn’t great but it wasn’t terrible. I had moments while reading where I was enjoying it and then moments where I absolutely couldn’t stand what was happening or how the main character was acting. The fact of the matter is that the synopsis is extremely misleading – it doesn’t highlight the fact that this book is about mental illness, instead it made it seem like it was going to be all about a girl simply learning to stand on her own outside of her brother’s shadow (I was thinking it would be a feel good, empowerment type of contemporary). That aside, I love the fact that the author addressed a mental illness that I don’t often see in books and would love to see more of. I just wish it was alluded to or hinted upon in the synopsis because not only does that make it a sidelined plot in terms of importance to the novel but in the novel as well.

“Terrific? That’s not how to describe Toby. He’s charming and brilliant and bright and shiny. Toby is the movie star in his own movie! In all our movies!”

The Movie Version by Emma Wunsch is about Amelia’s (and her family’s) journey in navigating around the fact as well as coming to terms with the fact that her older brother Toby is diagnosed with a mental illness (I won’t say which one as some might not want that spoiled). The biggest aspect of this book is the fact that Amelia has always looked up to her older brother to the point of hero worshiping him. Not only are they close in age but they are close as siblings, practically best friends. Thus, she has a really hard time coming to terms with his diagnosis and joining the before and after together. It’s always been Toby and Amelia against the world so when he isn’t exactly her Toby anymore she is lost. Throw in the fact that Amelia is completely obsessed with movies and life being like ‘the movie version’ and there you have it.

“What’s the movie version?”

“It’s the better version.”

I’m still not sure how I feel about Amelia. At times she was incredibly immature, shallow, and self-centered. I can’t count the times I was forced to read her thoughts about how she couldn’t stand her boyfriend’s ears and hoped no one else noticed them. I wanted to scream! Not to mention when she blamed her newly diagnosed brother for her “terrible” winter vacation. During those moments I couldn’t stand her! However, there were times where I really felt and related to her struggle to accept the changes in her life. I’ve been there, everyone has been there. Change can be hard. There was such a raw and realistic feel to how Emma Wunsch highlighted Amelia’s struggle. I was in tears several times and that right there is when you know an author is achieving their purpose, when you’re feeling it.

“I feel like the kid in The Sixth Sense and my brother’s the ghost. Or maybe he’s the kid and we’re all ghosts to him. Either way, I feel like someone has died.”

However, I didn’t like the initial reaction to Toby’s diagnosis – everyone acted as if he had died instead of as if he was still Toby just a Toby who was now living with a mental illness. The way it was handled angered me.

I thought the whole side plot with the romance was incredibly awkward and not needed. The book would have been completely fine without any romance. Some of the scenes between Amelia and Epstein made me cringe because they were explicit in the worst way. Don’t get me wrong, I liked Epstein as a character – he was quirky and caring. I loved his friends! I just didn’t see the point of the romance at all.

I really enjoyed the family and sibling aspect of the book, Amelia’s family, while not being perfect, is a close-knit family. That stands out in a world full of YA books that have more absent parents and/or families. I loved their dynamic and her little brothers David and Sam were very entertaining. And the flashbacks of family events where we got to see Toby pre-diagnosis? They were extremely insightful and helped to really validate that whole aspect.

I also loved the friendships – while some were not perfect friendships they were still great. I especially loved Ray! She is the prime example of a supportive not afraid to tell it like it is the type of friend. Amelia was better for having her in her life.

“You cannot pass! I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the Flame of Anor. The dark fire will not avail you, Flame of Udun! Go back to the shadow. You shall not pass!”

“Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring. Easy.”

And Amelia’s movie obsession quirk? That was one of my favorite aspects of her! The fact that she could quote so many movies by heart or know where a quote came from was endearing if not slightly geeky. I, however, didn’t like how that obsession led her to the unrealistic expectation of life needing to be like ‘the movie version’.

If you’re wondering why I haven’t brought up Toby in more detail it’s because beyond his diagnosis, flashbacks, and Amelia’s instance that he is the coolest person to have ever lived we don’t get to see much of his journey. In the end, the whole plot of Toby’s mental illness becomes a plot device to further Amelia as a character. There wasn’t a complete resolution for him and I kept coming back to the thought – “What about Toby?” “How is he dealing with what he is going through?” No one ever asks him. The main reason this book is a two-star read instead of three, for me, is because of the fact that the mental illness was a plot device and I didn’t like that.

Would I recommend this book? Personally, it’s not a book I’ll be rereading. But if you want to give it a chance then go for it! Everyone gets something different out of the books they read and someone else might completely love this where I didn’t.


You can pre-order it on: Amazon, B&N, Google Play, Book Depository, and Kobo


Have you read The Movie Version? What did you think of it? If not, do you want to read it?

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28 thoughts on “ARC Review: The Movie Version by Emma Wunsch

  1. I read this book about a month ago and didn’t like at all. Granted there were some things that were enjoyable but as a whole I had to many problems with it (some of which you talked about in your review) to fully immerse in those good moments. Amelia’s behavior was cringe worthy to me and I loathed the way she reacted to Toby’s illness. Rant over ahaha. I ended up giving it 2 stars

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve read a few reviews on Goodreads since I posted mine and a running theme seems to be a lot of dislike towards Amelia’s behavior and how she reacted to Toby’s illness. Which I agree on completely! There were those rare moments where I felt the way she was acting was realistic but then straight after they were overshadowed by her being terrible. After a while I just tried to immerse myself in the moments I liked so that I could get through the book because I almost DNFed it half way through 😂. But yeah! I get what you’re saying. I didn’t particularly like it either and felt most of the things the author seemed to be trying to accomplish weren’t handled well. 😖

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The description most definitely doesn’t let on that this book would tackle mental illness… though like you said it doesn’t really tackle it. It’s just thrown in there as an obstacle for Amelia – which I don’t like. Do you think this book would have been more compelling if the POVS switched between Amelia and Toby? It sounds like Toby got shafted.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it would have ten times more compelling if it had been a dual POV with Amelia and Toby! For a plot that is supposed to be tackling a mental illness it was lacking so much in that department and Toby’s insight would have made it better. I would have also liked the whole romance side plot to not exist and for it be more focused on Amelia and Toby and their family. Toby definitely got shafted. It was disappointing. 😦

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  3. This is a great review Melissa. You’re completely right about the blurb not really giving much away about the story, I would have never guessed it was about mental illness, although it is a real shame that you felt Toby’s mental illness in this book was used as more of a plot device for Amelia’s story than anything else. I think it would have been interesting to see more of the journey the family made together after he was diagnosed. Instead it sounds like the book was all about Amelia and Toby was just a sidelined character.
    From your review I can see why you only gave it three stars, and at one point could have potentially only given it two stars. I don’t think I’ll be picking up this book myself!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!! ♥

      It was exactly like that! I was disappointed in how sidelined Toby was because I felt as if the author could have explored his mental illness more and made it more of the center plot rather than something that drove Amelia’s plot. Someone asked me if I thought it would have been better with a dual POV and thinking about it I think it would have been. In that scenario there would have been more insight from Toby and it could have been more focused on the whole families journey. I would have also liked the romance to be nonexistent because it was pointless to the story and just another distraction.

      I feel bad turning people away from a book but yeah it just was not well handled. 😖

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s all right ❤
        Yeah I guess in a story about mental illness like this you expect to see more of the person who has been diagnosed. I guess there needs to be more books about mental illness that focus on that as the main plot, rather than using it to forward another character's story, that just seems really off to me you know.
        Ohh that would have been a lot more interesting as well. I take it this book was only told from Amelia's POV then. In the end it just seems like this book has more problems than not, and when you finish a book thinking of everything you'd change that's not good either is it?
        Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, but if you didn't enjoy it you have a right to tell people that. People will read it or not if they want to.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly! There really does and it has the same effect on me. Especially given that in this book the mental illness is schizophrenia (hopefully no one else accidentally sees this because spoiler) and the fact that I’ve rarely come across a book that covers that. There are so many things that we don’t see in books often enough so when you come across it there’s always that feeling of wanting it to be done justice, I guess. And this just didn’t.

        Yep it was and there were definitely more problems than not. It really isn’t! There’s so much I’ve realized I would change that it makes me want to change my rating at this point.

        True! I guess I still get that feeling of feeling bad when I write a negative review because I haven’t written that many. 🙈

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t think I’ve come across a book that focuses on that mental illness either but I think it would be really interesting to read one that does just because I don’t feel it’s something that’s talked about much. It’s a shame this book didn’t really do it justice, especially if, like you said, it’s mentioned so rarely you wanted to see it done right.
        I think when you start thinking more about what you would change than the actual plot or characters that’s when you know this isn’t going to be a five star review right? I’ve only written a few negative reviews but I get what you mean, I always feel so disappointed when I haven’t enjoyed a book. :/

        Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly! And I hope to find more books in the future that do talk about that particular mental illness. I’d love to find one that really does it justice. I feel like there’s one that I know of that I haven’t read but I can’t remember the name.

        Yep and same! I was actually excited for this book beforehand from reading a short sampler at BFest which does make the fact that it didn’t live up to what I thought disappointing.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I feel it’s becoming something that’s wrote about more in YA books, hopefully there will be more released that focus on the illness itself rather than use it as another aspect of someone else’s story.
        Could it be Highly Illogical Behaviour? It doesn’t deal with schizophrenia but it does with mental illness and it was amazingly written as well.
        Yeah it’s always worse when you’re really looking forwards to a book that doesn’t live up to your expectations, hopefully your next read will be better! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • I feel like it is too and I hope so!

        I googled it and the book I was thinking about was The Shock of the Fall! I remember seeing it around a lot a few years ago but I never picked it up. Either way, I’ve read that it deals with schizophrenia and so many people have loved it so I definitely want to read it at one point. I also want to read Highly Illogical Behavior too though! I’ve heard great things about that one.

        It really is! And so far the book I’m reading now is interesting, I’m not too far into it but it’s feeling promising.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh I hadn’t actually heard of that one (but I think a few years ago I wasn’t really paying much attention to YA contemporary releases). It sounds like, given the amount of people who have loved it, it’ll be a lot better.
        Highly Illogical Behaviour is amazing so I’d highly recommend picking it up when you get a chance.
        That’s always a good start at least, hopefully the rest will live up to that promise! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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