The Chaos of Standing Still by Jessica Brody {Book Review}

I’ve made a habit of avoiding books where we go into death, at least on the contemporary side, it takes me to places that I don’t really like to go.  This one though seemed to have other elements in it that pulled me in, and somehow I picked it up while I was in the bookstore.  This isn’t a simple light read like the other books in my stack of contemporary romances from May, it defintely goes into one of the darker subject matters; death.  On a strange note, the other book she’s written seems to have the same theme, so a little different, especially when I didn’t see any notes on what prompted her to write this book or the other.  I’m sure there’s some story behind it, but for now I haven’t seen anything.  Regardless of the subject matter, I actually really enjoyed this book, and only managed to cry once.


Ryn is returning from a visit to her father’s on one of the cheapest airlines available, meaning two flights to get to one destination, the only problem is that the connection flight is in Denver where a snowstorm is building up.  Add that to canceled flights, a phone mixup, and a debilitating case of survivor’s guilt and she’s having a very bad day.  The boy that has her phone though could be the one opportunity to finally have a real conversation and break through that guilt even just a little.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars


I connected really fast to these characters, Ryn is a great example of someone dealing with grief.  She is irrational, and yet dealing with it as best she can.  Xander is definitely the character who you think you have figured until you don’t.  Throw them together and its both dysfunctional and oddly perfect.  They both have secrets, not really the kind that destroy the world, but the normal kind hidden because of experience rather than rationality or dark reasoning.  Even her dead friend, Lottie, is given character development as we find out in the present all of the things leading up to the actual event that ended her life, and the drama that brought her there.  Each character is introduced to us flawed in some manner and given the chance to overcome it.  I’d say the only characters not given this opportunity were ones mentioned, but affecting Xander and Ryn.  It could be an interesting plot/chance for a second book to bring us into those characters and their impact?  Maybe a novella.


Overall, between how the timeline is put together and Ryn’s way with dealing with the loss this was really well written.  The story is built on two time periods, the present and the past leading up to her friend’s death.  It points out just how we all deal with a terrifying loss, or rather how we don’t.  Ryn struggles with the unanswerable question of how her friend could die by asking her phone (google) every question that pops in her mind.  It’s something we all do every now and then out of curiosity, but in this case it’s part of the grief.  The core of this story is deep, and convincing in how we are slowly introduced to what had happened to her friend, but lightened appropriately by the events occurring at the airport as the people trapped there try to wait out the storm.  There are of course twists and turns in the story leading up to that moment where Ryn has to confront the one text message she has yet to open, and the one question that will never be answered, but it all builds up in a way that both lends importance to the moment while also outlining the need for her to come to terms with it and continue with her life.


This was a really great quick read.  A little off my contemporary romance marathon but Xander and Ryn definitely pull you through the darker sections.  I’m not usually into reading contemporaries that deal in death/sickness, only because I read to escape that sense of reality, but this book kept me hooked and gave this sense of a light at the end of the tunnel, making it easier to read.  If you are looking for a great romance with a little more depth this does fit that bill.  I certainly recommend if you happen to be stuck in an airport during a storm, mainly because you’ll wish you could find some fun in the madness, not that these things really happen.

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