Review: Live Fast, Die Young by Vanessa Barneveld

I’ve read my first novella- Live Fast, Die Young by Vanessa Barneveld. This is quite the story put into less than 110 pages!

Image result for live fast die young vanessa barneveld

Molly Corbett can’t stand seeing her childhood pal Alex Gibson destroy himself. He’s gone from straight-A student to rebel without a cause. With so much at stake, some serious interference is called for—or at least Micromanaging Molly thinks so. Alex needs to get back on the path to the Ivy League. But the harder Molly pushes Alex, the harder he pushes back.

Alex has a secret. Well, two secrets. Number one: He has terminal melanoma. With six months to live, Alex hasn’t got a second to waste. And hanging around hospitals when his friends think he’s cutting school definitely counts as wasted time. Instead, he’s going to drop out, surf, drive fast cars…and finally put secret number two out there. He’s in love with Molly and he’s going to tell her before it’s too late.

I’ve never read a novella before, so I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this story. I was worried that it would lack the strong emotions and descriptions. But I was pleasantly surprised to see that this novella wasn’t boring and unemotional!

The story itself seems stereotypical- falling in love while going through the bucket list. But regardless of how many times I’ve seem it, every story brings something new to the table, and this was no exception. It showed a lot of how the person with whatever illness changes socially more than other stories that I’ve read have.

However, the timing was off. The build-up to Molly learning about Alex’s illness seemed to take way too long. Especially for a novella, there wasn’t enough time for this to happen. By the time Molly learns about Alex’s illness, there was very little time dedicated to the actual adventure of going through Molly and Alex’s relationship after Molly discovers Alex’s illness. This part- the evolution of their relationship- was the best part of the novella, and I finished the story wishing I could’ve seen more of this than the time it took to get the story moving. The description was a little misleading- it seemed like this was a Bucket List Story, but it was really an Admitting You’re Sick story.

There was also a lack of emotion in a story that seems like it should be riddled with it. The most emotional part of the story was looking back on an experience Alex had as a kid in a hospital with another ill girl, but I rarely felt large emotional connections to the present-day characters.

T\That being said, the characters were decently developed, especially given the small page count. They all changed throughout the story, but each of them maintained a consistent voice and individuality. I wish more time could have been spent developing the main characters instead of spending time with ones that weren’t relevant to the story (like one of Molly’s friends, Suze).

Live Fast, Die Young is for people who like a classic high school romance and the story of a couple getting through a big obstacle. It should definitely be on the to-be-read list of readers who enjoy short stories!

I’m giving Live Fast, Die Young 3 stars. I really wish the pacing had been handled better for a short story. If it had, the novella would have been much more enjoyable and would have fit the description.


If you’ve read Live Fast, Die Young, what did you like or dislike about it?

And if you haven’t, do you think you will? Was the synopsis interesting?



Barnes and Noble


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