I received a review copy of this book for my stop on the blog tour at Donnie Darko Girl.
Most likely the shortest synopsis I've seen for a novel, Following Zippy only intrigued me even more because so little is given away. I didn't know what to expect, and it was exciting to walk into the unknown. I sensed the book's theme was life and death, and stories with that kind of theme always draw me into them.
At only fifteen years old, Gabe finds out he has a terminal illness, and his reactions are realistic and heartbreaking. I can only imagine I'd deal with the diagnosis the same way he dealt with it. His wit and candor made me laugh at times and other times I wanted to slap him for hurting his mom's feelings. Around the same time he's diagnosed, he begins seeing a girl with wavy golden hair named Zippy and is the only one who can see her. People think he's hallucinating, and even he begins to think that himself due to the nature of his illness.
It's hard to have hope while things look so bleak, but Zippy gives Gabe something no one else has - the insight that he could be spending what he has left of his life in a way that gives meaning to him and those around him. My favorite scene between the two of them is when they're talking about whether fish know what purpose they serve, and the conversation turns to whether human beings know their purpose. I thought it was a clever comparison - aren't we like those fish? Couldn't we be like them with someone we might not even be able to see wondering if we know our purpose?
For me, Following Zippy is really easy to talk about and review, but I struggled with rating it. There are a lot of mistakes editing can fix - such as punctuation errors, you're versus your, and incorrect grammar - but the story was so compelling to me, I flew through the pages. I would have easily been able to give Following Zippy five stars had there not been the mistakes either missed by editing or if the book was edited at all. I wanted, no, I needed to know if Zippy was a hallucination and what was going to happen to Gabe. Just looking at the cover makes me happy knowing what story lies within its pages, and for that, I'm giving Following Zippy four stars.