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The cost of all things by Maggie Lehrman
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The cost of all things

by Maggie Lehrman

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425273,462 (3.68)1
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The right spell can fix anything. This book introduced the idea of hekamists; people who can create potions or cook up a spell to cure your problems. Ari's boyfriend, Win, dies, and she decides she wants a spell to wipe all memory of him from her brain.The book jacket summary was inaccurate because it says that Ari's spell sets off a chain of events, but what you find out is that there were spells in place before Ari's spell and they were what caused the complications. Due to the mature topics and profanity in the book, I wouldn't recommend it for middle school readers. Provocative idea - to be able to buy a spell to fix your problems, but I just didn't like the way the story unfolded. ( )
  JRlibrary | Jan 16, 2016 |
Review courtesy of Dark Faerie Tales

Quick & Dirty: An evocative, intriguing debut about how one mistake can lead to a chain of reactions.

Opening Sentence: There’s a hemakist who lives in the run-down cluster of houses behind the high school.

The Review:

Ari’s boyfriend Win died. So she does what many do in hard times – she takes a spell from a Hemakist. She forgets him, she forgets her pain, but it sets off a chain reaction that changes the lives of everyone she knows. Suddenly, her friendships are unraveling, she can no longer dance, and her life seems to be falling apart. Revelations and romances bloom in this twisty, evocative novel.

Each one of the five points of views played a large part in this story. That was part of why I liked it so much – the characters were all unique, and showed a lot of complexity under their public facade. There was depth to each of them from the start, and part of what made this novel so interesting is watching as they evolve. We saw them at their best. But we also saw them at their worst – they were flawed, they were imperfect – that was what made them so realistic and relatable. The writing had a flowing, evocative, almost melodic quality to it that made reading from these five points of view (Echo, Ari, Markos, Diana, and Kay) a breeze.

There were plenty of different characters to talk about, but let’s go with Kay first. She was probably the character that made me feel the most, ironically – her name is Katelyn. Mine is Kaitlin. Anyway, she had spelled her two friends with a hook, which made it impossible for them to ditch her. While this is a horrible thing to do, it also proved the fragility of her self-esteem, and how deeply she was imprinted by her sister leaving without her to vacation the globe. She was my favorite character to watch develop, because she definitely had her ups and downs, and her emotions were so vivid. I think, in the end, she made sacrifices that overcame the other girls, even though she had made some of the worst mistakes.

Markos was our one male perspective in this novel and I think he stood out. On the outside, he’s a player, and he’s a party boy. But on the inside there is so much more going on. He feels that he has failed to reach his family’s expectations for him, which makes me sad and angry. To add to that, he’s having increasing feelings for a girl that he never wanted to fall in love with. It’s a relationship that he knows he’ll end up screwing up, which, of course, makes the fallout happen so much quicker. Adding to that, his mother is hiding something that will have repercussions. Watching him navigate the precarious situations he was in was really interesting, and his character was one of my favorites.

The other three characters were just as great, each of them a different story and with different issues. This was a really character-driven novel, and I loved the message that there is more to anyone that meets the eye. There were plenty of other messages, too – my English teacher would have a field day on this one. I think that the writing style was really gorgeous, and the plotline traveled really nicely. This was my first magical realism novel, having just discovered that this was a separate genre from fantasy (thanks, Mrs. Cullen!). The magical elements add to the plotline without overcoming it. I think that it’s worth a read and would recommend it for sure!

Notable Scene:

So much for making things right. So much for spells.

They couldn’t be counted on when it mattered. Spells would always find a way to trick you, to use your weaknesses against you, to come up with the ugliest possible solution to your problem. They were blunt instruments – but then again so were planks and flames. Fists and hammers. So were words and kisses.

FTC Advisory: Balzar + Bray/HarperTeen provided me with a copy of The Cost of All Things. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review. ( )
  DarkFaerieTales | Nov 8, 2015 |
I was really not a fan at first, as all of the characters seemed unsympathetic and miserable. I'm glad I stuck it out though as the book got much better toward the end. ( )
  lemontwist | Jun 17, 2015 |
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets We Were Liars in this thought-provoking, brilliantly written, and totally original realistic contemporary debut about three teens who must deal with the consequences of spells cast on them in the wake of their classmate’s sudden death.

The blurb calls out one of my all-time favorite films and one of the most underwhelming books I read in 2014. So I kinda figured The Cost of All Things would be either a hit-or-miss or land in the murky depths of meh.

The best thing about this book was its premise and themes. Hekamists, the power of our memories, the weight of the past, life-changing decisions and their consequences not fully grasped in desperate moments of grief and loneliness...

But the characters were completely self-absorbed and their spells were 100% selfish. The only teen I was mildly interested in was Win and, of course, he's the "sudden death" from the blurb. He was the only person who seemed to actually think and care about others, and he was a well-written example of a teenager attempting to live with depression. The others, though, they only cared what others could do for them and how to make their own lives easier. Boring. However, the mystery surrounding Win's death was compelling enough to pull me through the entire story.

After reading The Buried Giant and its superior exploration of memories, The Cost of All Things ended up feeling as superficial as its characters.

3 stars (but I would read another book by Lehrman) ( )
  flying_monkeys | May 19, 2015 |
This story was told from the viewpoints of four troubled teens. In this world, there are hekamists who can create spells to solve problems. When Ari's parents died in a house fire, Ari's aunt had her visit a hekamist who erased her memory of the incident. Every spell has side effects though and Ari was left with a constant sore wrist. She replaced her grief with ballet and now she is poised to move to New York City to dance.

When Ari's boyfriend dies in a car accident just after their junior year, Ari knows that a hekamist can take away the memories and end her horrible sadness. But this time she has more problems. The side effect this time takes away her ability to dance and distances her from her friends since she hasn't told anyone that she doesn't remember her boyfriend Win.

Win's best friend Markos is also dealing with his grief and a family in which he feels like an outsider. Ari's best friend Diana is also grieving and crushing on Markos. Then there is Kay who has used a couple of spells - one to make her beautiful and one to make it so that Ari and Diana will always be her friends.

These spells and the hekamist and her daughter Echo are all tangled together in a series of spells and connections that influence all their lives and choices. This was a sad and twisted story about people who believe that magic can solve all sorts of problems.

I thought that the story was very well written. I did wonder how it was that hekamists could operate so openly despite being illegal. This provides lots of food for thought about the whole idea of grief and loss and what a person would do to end them. ( )
  kmartin802 | Apr 4, 2015 |
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There's a hekamist who lives in the run-down cluster of houses behind the high school.
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When her boyfriend dies, a grieving Ari uses a spell to erase her memories of him, but this spell triggers a series of events that reveal hidden, and sometimes dangerous, connections between her friends and the boyfriend she no longer remembers.

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