Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Confiding, Relatable, Dark
You = Macy's BFF
It's a little unusual that Macy never shares any of her thoughts, feelings, or memories with anyone in her life—and yet, she's telling us, a bunch of complete strangers, every last detail of her inner world, in this book. She writes:
[T]he fact that I was angry and scared, that was my secret to keep. They didn't get to have that, too. It was all mine (1.41)
And now it's ours, too.
Yes, she opens up in the end, but we as readers get to peek into her head long before that. For that reason, we continuously feel like Macy is confiding in us, trusting us with her deepest, darkest secrets. Kind of like Macy and Wes's game of Truth—but we even get to see what she doesn't tell him. Cool, huh?
Just Like You
Macy is a lot like you. Yep, you. And your friends. And us.
She's the type of character it's easy to relate to and like. Yes, she's got some major issues that she's dealing with, but it's stuff we can all understand:
The sunlight was slanting through the window, […] and in it I felt especially exposed, as if every little flaw, from my mussed hair to my chipped toenail paint, was especially noticeable. (11.167)
It's like she's our friend, just chatting on the phone about what happened last night.
Zero Dark Macy
Just to be clear, of course the whole book isn't dark. But there are definitely places where the tone is more of a somber earthen color than a bubblegum pink—know what we mean? It is a book about a girl dealing with her dad's death, after all.
The darkness is palpable at the beginning:
I already knew this was where they took people to tell them the really bad news: that their wait was over, their person was dead. (1.39)
But it begins to dissipate towards the end, only popping up briefly in conversations with friends about their own pasts or in dealing with Macy's mom. By the very end of the novel, things are much better, and Macy finds a light in the darkness—literally: "I ran with Wes into that bright sun" (22.29).