Friday, June 17, 2016

ARC Review: Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidecker

Title: Cure for the Common Universe
Written by: Christian McKay Heidicker
Published: June 14, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Jaxon is being committed to video game rehab . . . 

ten minutes after he met a girl. A living, breathing girl named Serena, who not only laughed at his jokes but actually kinda sorta seemed excited when she agreed to go out with him. 

Jaxon's first date. Ever. 

In rehab, he can't blast his way through galaxies to reach her. He can't slash through armies to kiss her sweet lips. Instead, he has just four days to earn one million points by learning real-life skills. And he'll do whatever it takes—lie, cheat, steal, even learn how to cross-stitch—in order to make it to his date. 

If all else fails, Jaxon will have to bare his soul to the other teens in treatment, confront his mother's absence, and maybe admit that it's more than video games that stand in the way of a real connection. 

Prepare to be cured

*** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ***

There is nothing worse than not enjoying a book you were really excited about. But honestly, it happens. You can't love 'em all. I really wanted to like this book. It has all the trappings of the YA contemporaries that I love but unfortunately it did not work for me.

One of the reasons this one didn't work for me is the fact that I never connected with the main character. Now you are not supposed to like Jaxon/Miles. He is a self-centered jerk who frankly treats people like crap. That's kind of the point here. He's not the lovable nerd that we are used to And while liking unlikable characters is nothing new for me, that concept didn't work here for me. For most of the book I was actively rooting against the character. I wanted him to fail and be brought down a peg. But that didn't really happen for me.

And while not enjoying the character isn't necessarily a deal breaker, the character development is kind of important when it comes to a coming-of-age story like this one. The majority of the plot here is about Jaxon/Miles' development and him getting over his addiction to video games and addressing the root cause as to why he needs them to cope. That sounds like a great story. And it would have been if that happened. But instead everything went the character's way and he never really learned anything. Even when it looked like there were challenges it quickly righted itself into his favor. And honestly for me, it got a little frustrating by the end. It just didn't feel like a full-realized coming-of-age story. 

But one thing I did like about this book were the secondary characters. Everyone else at v-hab was fantastic especially the members of the guild. Their guild leader Fezzik was supportive plus really funny, Meeki was a kickass female character who said exactly what I was thinking, Aurora was a kind and caring, and then there was Soup who is the most precious of all cinnamon rolls. These were the characters I connected with and wanted to succeed. There were also some good antagonist with other guilds and the people who worked at v-hab. To be honest this book may have benefited from some multiple perspectives and given us someone to root for as an MC.

The other decent thing about this book is that it's fast-paced and had some good moments of action. When this book was at it's best it was during the less introspective moments. The competitions, the challenges, the times where you wanted the guild to succeed if not for Jaxon/Miles than for the other members. Not to mention that it's a quick read. It's something that you can get through in a few days which was nice.

On the whole, I just think that Cure for the Common Universe wasn't for me. I have seen a lot of really great reviews for it but the characterization really impacted my enjoyment of this coming-of-age story.

I give Cure for the Common Universe by Christian McKay Heidicker 6 out of 10 stars

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Bypass. By no means would I say this is a terrible book you should completely avoid. I just think it is for a very specific audience and I am not in that subset. If you like very different contemporaries that play with the tropes and/or books about unlikable characters then check this out.

Have you read Cure for the Common Universe? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. I haven't heard of this one before, but I can totally understand why you didn't like it. Unlikeable characters should still be enjoyable to read about. Anytime I can't connect with the main character the book is automatically brought down a couple notches. Great review!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

  2. Hmmm, I'm not entirely sure I'd like this one. I have a tendency to keep unlikeable characters at arms' length and if things don't change during the book... it might annoy me all through the end!

  3. Great review, as always. I think this could go either way for me. Sometimes I really bond with the assholes, but I do like a bit of redemption. Then, if the side characters are as awesome as you described (Soup! Dying) then it might be worth it. Probably something I'll pick up later if I'm feeling it.

    Sarcasm & Lemons