Let's start off with some of the positives. The writing in this book is great--same dry, clever wit we saw in A Series of Unfortunate Events. The characters and their development are second to none. Handler has the ability to create extraordinarily rich characters. The format is also an appealing aspect--being told from the future and written as a personal journal, with fake essay questions and vocabulary words in each chapter. Unfortunately, despite its many positive qualities, the book did the one cringe-worthy thing I was dreading: a multiple personality plot twist. Really?! Handler is capable of so much better. The entire time I was reading this book, I was so excited, but in the back of my mind, kept thinking that the one thing that would ruin it would be if Natasha and Flan were the same person. What a disappointment. And let's not even get into the mental health implications here. Way to promote a dangerous stereotype. I want to love this book so badly. I want to pretend the ending never happened. How can one small thing have such a profoundly negative impact on what was, up to that point, a great novel? I would love to see Handler try his hand at a similar novel, one that's less problematic and less of a cop-out but in a similar setting.
I can see why some people would dislike this book and others would like it. I definitely think I would have enjoyed it more when I was in high school, but it's still a cute, fluffy read. I do think there could have been a much deeper exploration of the themes of regret, trying to balance the past/present/future, the bigger impact knowledge of the future can have, but for a high school fluff book, it's a fine read to kill a few hours. I'm a little frustrated at some of the body negativity, but the sad thing is that it's pretty much the norm. Still, I'd like to see YA authors making steps to lessen the acceptability of critiquing other peoples' bodies rather than normalize it. Honestly though, minor end spoiler, I wish the characters had been aged up like at the very end. It would have been so much more interesting, there are more changes happening in a person's life around college, and I could imagine a cool Jessica Darling-like story there. I hope the possibility for an aged up sequel is still around!
So if we're going to be honest here, I fully recognize that this series has horrible writing and the plot is ridiculously contrived, but it's one of those situations where it's a series and you just feel obligated to keep reading. This book did leave some room for future volumes in the series, but also works as a stopping point, but honestly, I think Oh. My. Gods. should have just been left as a standalone. It felt like a good stopping point and I have to wonder if this is more just about money than anything else, as it often seems to be these days with YA series. But it's your typical book 2 formula, continuing bits of the story from the last book, with unnecessary complications added for the couple since there's nowhere else for their story to go, mysterious male character, etc. You've read it all before, it's nothing new. If you want to read about gods/goddesses having mortal connections in youth, just stick to Percy Jackson. The ending was rushed and anticlimactic and mostly it's just a relief to be able to get this off my bookshelf.