Blogmas Book Review: Roxy by Neal Shusterman & Jarrod Shusterman

Summary:
The freeway is coming.
It will cut the neighborhood in two. Construction has already started, pushing toward this corridor of condemned houses and cracked concrete with the momentum of the inevitable. Yet there you are, in the fifth house on the left, fighting for your life.
Ramey, I.
The victim of the bet between two manufactured gods: the seductive and lethal Roxy (Oxycontin), who is at the top of her game, and the smart, high-achieving Addison (Adderall), who is tired of being the helpful one, and longs for a more dangerous, less wholesome image. The wager—a contest to see who can bring their mark to “the Party” first—is a race to the bottom of a rave that has raged since the beginning of time. And you are only human, dazzled by the lights and music. Drawn by what the drugs offer—tempted to take that step past helpful to harmful…and the troubled places that lie beyond.
But there are two I. Rameys—Isaac, a soccer player thrown into Roxy’s orbit by a bad fall and a bad doctor and Ivy, his older sister, whose increasing frustration with her untreated ADHD leads her to renew her acquaintance with Addy.
Which one are you?

Book Cover

Review:
Roxy follows two siblings, Isaac and Ivy, as they use and eventually abuse drugs. But this book isn’t the usual story where we follow them down the path of addiction, Neal and Jarrod Shusterman have added a very interesting twist to this story. They’ve written the drugs into the story as characters, giving life to these substances. The two main drug personifications that we see are Roxy, who is OxyContin, and Addison, who is Adderall. But we also see morphine, marijuana, heroin, molly, alcohol, cocaine, and a few others. I have to admit that I had to use an embarrassing amount of brainpower to puzzle out what some of the drugs were because they all have names and not all of them are obvious. (Morphine being named Phineas took me way too long to figure out.)
The plot of this story was incredibly well done. The story was fast-paced and never missed a beat even though it wasn’t a super action-filled story, instead, using smaller events to build up the story to its climax. I really liked the interludes that we got from the drugs other than Roxy and Addison. They were almost sweet? By that, I mean that this book didn’t just say “drugs are bad” and try to pound it into your head. In one interlude we see Mary Jane (marijuana) being used by an older gentleman with cancer. There’s still a negative connotation with it because this man doesn’t want to be using drugs, but Mary Jane made him feel better. I think the authors absolutely could have used this book to be preachy about how drugs are bad, but I don’t think that’s what they did.
Let me explain via the two main characters. Ivy has ADHD, but she also just likes to party. But the authors did a really great job showing how much Ivy changed once she finally got on the right medication. Once she started taking Adderall, there’s a stark and obvious improvement in her schoolwork and across many other things in her life. They showed how taking the medicine that she needed helped her. But they didn’t shy away from showing possible negative side effects (loss of appetite leading to losing weight, inability to sleep, and things like that). They showed that Ivy, who had a history of drinking and using other substances, could go from taking her medication how she was supposed to, to abusing it and doubling her doses thinking it will be doubly effective.
Things for Isaac though, it was clear they were only ever going to follow one path, so the authors showed proper use of medication in other ways. Isaac hurts his ankle pretty badly, so his grandmother offers him a pill, and this is how Isaac meets Roxy. He slowly descends into addiction, not really realizing how deep he’s gotten until it’s too late. I really liked that the authors showed him trying to stop taking the drugs and how hard something like that is to do on your own.
Overall, I think this was a really fascinating twist on writing about drugs and substance abuse. I think I could have done without Addison and Roxy making a deal to see who can literally kill one of the siblings first because that didn’t really sit right with me. But I really think it shows how much thought and effort the authors put into this story. I don’t want to say that I liked how the story concluded because someone actually died and it was incredibly sad, but I have to say that I was gripped by this story right from the first page.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.