Our Chemical Hearts Review: My Heart Wasn’t Really In It…

September 28, 2016 by Jenna | 3 stars, ARC Reviews, Books, Reviews

Our Chemical Hearts Review: My Heart Wasn’t Really In It…Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland
Published by Penguin Australia on October 3rd 2016
Source: Publisher
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Amazon | Book Depository | Publisher | Angus & Robertson
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Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him-at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.

Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl-she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland's brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

Contemporary is my favourite genre but unfortunately Our Chemical Hearts fell into the sub-category of contemporary that I don’t enjoy reading. I couldn’t connect with the characters or their stories at all and almost gave up after 100 pages. The ending did redeem the book slightly but overall, the novel was a bit unmemorable and falls into the small pile of contemporary books that I’m never going to rave about, rant about or talk about ever again.

Our Chemical Hearts explores grief, first love and redemption. And while these are themes that I love reading about, my biggest struggle with the novel was the plot. I found it to be extremely boring and for a good 150-200 pages, I had no idea where the book was going or what it intended to do. I wasn’t interested in anything that was happening and I never really got into the story. Ultimately, the book did redeem itself with its last 50 pages and I really enjoyed how realistic the book was, but it was a case of too little, too late. However, I really must emphasise how much I liked how the themes of grief and first love were explored at the end of this book because that was what made me increase my rating by at least one star. I thought it was realistic and thought-provoking, and a nice change from other similar contemporary stories that I’ve read. It was just a bit unfortunate that I never got into the book and it was pretty much a race to the end for me.

This is quite a character-driven story and I didn’t care for any of the characters. I don’t typically like novels that are narrated by male characters and this one was no exception. I actually did enjoy Henry’s voice and perspective for the first 3-5 chapters of the book but it started going downhill pretty quickly. While I did think his voice was sassy and fun, I couldn’t connect with anything that he was saying, especially when he was interacting with or thinking about Grace, the love interest. Grace was a strange character for me. She came across as extremely Manic Pixie Dream Girl for the first half of the novel and I couldn’t really stand her and how Henry waxed poetic about her at every turn. But her character did start to develop into somebody much more complex and I started to appreciate her character more towards the end of the novel. The side characters were perhaps my favourite characters of the book. Lola was the one that I enjoyed reading about the most because she was pragmatic and relatable. She was one of the only characters that I felt any kind of connection with and she definitely was the one character that kept me reading long after I wanted to quit.

“There’s more beauty in mystery.”

“I don’t want you to be a mystery.”

“Yes, Henry. You do.”

I couldn’t really get on board with the romance in Our Chemical Hearts. I didn’t think there was any spark between the characters and it just came across as kind of dull for me. Henry is in love with Grace, or the idea of Grace, but he wasn’t able to articulate what it was that he liked about her. I was just really confused about what they saw in each other and why they were together. Having said that, this book does explore first love and being in love with the idea of someone, rather than who they actually are. So from this perspective, the novel actually does quite well. However, I just couldn’t connect with it and there was nothing keeping me interested.


Our Chemical Hearts had some great themes and great moments but the majority of the book was a bit boring and confused. The ending redeems the book and makes it great but there were too many elements that I didn’t enjoy and even a great ending couldn’t bounce back from that.

Rating: 3 out of 5


Thank you to Penguin Teen Australia for providing a review copy of the book.


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Jenna is an Aussie blogger and reader who loves to indulge in great books and great food. She is a doctor (of philosophy) and can usually be found fangirling about something, devouring delicious food, or taking a nap. You can find her on Twitter @readwithjenna and on Instagram @readingwithjenna.

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20 responses to “Our Chemical Hearts Review: My Heart Wasn’t Really In It…

  1. Yes I have to agree! I did really end up enjoying this, but I remember in the beginning really hated Henry, and not being able to connect with him at all. I really loved the way the ending played out though, because the way it was initially going wasn't really working out for me.

    This was pretty different from other contemporaries I've read though! And I'm sorry to hear you didn't love this as much as I did! Though to be fair I did give brownie points for including one of my favorite video games haha.

    Awesome review Jenna!
    My recent post An Innocent Life #17: How Is It Already October?

    • Thanks Val. I really liked the ending of the book too and how realistic it was, but it just took too long to get there and I was really bored for the majority of the book. I guess this style of contemporary just isn't for me, even though I typically really enjoy books about grief and mental illness. There was just a disconnect with this one.

      HAHA all the video game references flew over my head. I had absolutely no idea what they were! I'm glad you enjoyed it though 😀

  2. Geraldine

    I'm sorry you didn't love this one, Jenna! I had heard so much about Chemical Hearts, so I was kind of interested, but after hearing that it'll just be another contemporary in the pile of contemporaries out there… I might give this one a miss! Thanks so much for reviewing and letting me know – wonderful review as always! 🙂
    My recent post Wonder Women by Sam Maggs | BAMF Women Everywhere!

    • I was quite disappointed with this one because it's been so hyped up and I had really high expectations for it. It was just a really average contemporary for me. I probably should have DNFed it but I am glad that I made it to the end because the last 50 pages were great. If you're interested in the novel, I recommend getting it from the library to try it out. It's not really a story that blew my mind with its awesomeness.

      • Dwayne

        If the book was any longer they would have ended up together. All she needed was time (shit load of time) to heal and for doms dad to stop CO*K blocking her. She loved Page in her own weird way but hasn't gotten over Dom enough to move on. He really did rush it thats why he got hurt. He should've waited abit. Plus he like had made things to easy for her. She was a mystery and he was an open book. If he had played cards differently and mind f*cked her. Shed probably burn those clothes lol

    • Thanks! I had also heard endless good things about the book before I read it so I was even more let down by it once I started reading. It just took far too long to get going and I couldn't connect with it at all.

      • Dwayne

        Aw come on guys it wasn't that bad for a book. I honestly really was intrigued by he and grace's interaction but I didn't like the end. I mean #SPOILER ALERT
        Gadaam if your dead boyfriend really loved you. He wouldn't want to see you sad and depressed you. I mean love means you'd rather see your loved one happy even if its not with you. And heck he's dead he can't do anything to make her happy so karma should've just fixed shit up for them. And Dom's father isnt even helping grace try to deal with his sons passing. What kinda man would let a girl wear smelly dead guy clothes around and never shower 24/7 even if he was my son heck I'd feel sorry for her his bride to be and want to do something about her. I'd give her the okay you can go date someone else. It's not like my son would mind. He's fucking rotting. Ugh fuck it just pissed me off

  3. Greg

    Thanks for the review, I was curious about this one. I don't read a lot of contemp romance but the neat cover did catch my eye and I've been mulling this one. Sorry to hear this didn't quite work out. Sounds like it just takes too long to get going and the characters needed more spark. Nice review!
    My recent post Waiting On Wednesday #32

    • I absolutely love the cover of this one and it was what made me want to read it in the first place. It's just such a shame that I couldn't get into the story and the characters were really, really dull. I also had a big problem with the portrayal of the one Aussie character in this book (which is extra problematic since the author herself is Aussie).

  4. Oh, that's unfortunate. I thought this book sounded good but the slow moving plot will probably deter me. A romance with no spark is pretty pointless so as much as there's much to be learned about grief and moving on, I don't know if it's a contemporary romance I could get behind.
    My recent post [675]: Nutshell by Ian McEwan

    • I thought it sounded super good as well and was really excited to read it. I really, really liked the first two or three chapters but then it became apparent that nothing was going to happen. It was just another one of those books where characters pine after each other and don't do much of anything else.

    • Yeah, I hate to say this but this is one of those contemporaries that will just slide unnoticed through the middle of the pack. It's not one that I can see everyone loving, like Fangirl or I'll Give You the Sun. It was just too slow-moving and unmemorable.

    • HAHA that's true, dragons solve all problems. BUT there's nothing stopping you from adding a few memorable and relatable characters! The characters in this book were just kinda blah.

  5. Thank goodness there is someone else out there who disliked this book!!! I personally hated that the only Aussie character was a farcical stereotype but I agree with all of your points!

    • That's also what I had a problem with as well. I didn't really like that the book was Americanized even though the author is Aussie. And that the only Aussie character seemed like it was written by someone who didn't really know anything about Aussie culture… when that shouldn't have been the case because Krystal Sutherland is Australian!! It almost seemed as if they dumbed it down to meet the expectations of the American audience… Not a fan.

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