Zen and Xander Undone by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Summary/Cover Image from Publisher's Website:
Zen and Xander are sisters—truly, madly, deeply sisters, and this is their last summer together.
Zen is the "good" girl with a black belt in karate and a newfound penchant for kicking heads. Xander is a wild scientific genius with a self-destructive streak a light-year long. They have three things in common: they’re brown-eyed blondes, they’ve noticed the boy next door has turned into a hottie, and they miss their mom, who died almost a year ago.
These sisters are surviving just fine—except Zen keeps getting into fights that are harder and harder to finish, while Xander spirals into a vortex of late-night parties, scary men, and drugs. What’s worse, Xander has scholarships to the most coveted universities in the country, but she’s about to ruin everything. Should Zen keep trying to protect Xander, or finally let her go?
I've been looking forward to reading Zen and Xander Undone for quite a while, so when I finally did receive a copy I was jumping-up-and-down ecstatic, which never is exactly a pretty picture. ;)  Sadly, while there are good parts to Zen and Xander Undone, it left me feeling utterly disappointed at the end.
Zen and Xander Undone tells the tale of two sisters who are best friends. Xander is the wild and wickedly smart one, though ever since the death of their mother, she's been on a downward spiral to the life of partying too hard with alcohol, drugs, and sex, much to the dismay of Zen and their other best friend, Adam. Zen, on the other hand, is dealing with the death of their mother quietly, taking up karate to relax and talking to her mother in her head.
Don't get me wrong, the characters were decent and somewhat likable, but one of the reasons for me feeling disappointed about this novel was the characters. I never really felt emotionally connected or even  a strong liking to either Zen and Xander, since I felt that their tale was a clich├ęd one that never really brought anything new to the table. Though, I really did like two of the secondary characters in this novel. Those two? Paul, Zen's love interested who was way too wise and cool for his age, and Adam, Xander's love interest who was sweet. Sadly, neither really had too many big moments.
The plot was entertaining and had dry humor to it that I enjoyed, but as said before it never really brought anything new to the table. Though it still was a good enough read for a rainy day in the summer. One of my favorite parts of the plot was the add-on of the mystery revolving Zen and Xander's mother's younger years. I felt it was paced well and the resolution to it well done.
I also liked how the author addressed the subject of grieving in this, showing that everyone has their own methods of it, and that you should never really judge one's over the other, since to that person that's the only way there is to help.
In all, Zen and Xander Undone is an okay novel that did have it's moments, though not one I really suggest you running how to purchase. Instead maybe you should pick it up at the library. But who knows, maybe you'll see the light in it I didn't. And the only question remaining: Will I be reading more by Amy Kathleen Ryan? Well, I do have another one of her books in my TBR pile so probably.
Grade: C-
Zen and Xander Undone is now out.

Source: Publisher. Thanks Houghton Mifflin Court!


  1. Thanks for the review; I hate when you can't connect to the characters! I may have to pass on this one.

  2. I totally agree with you. Though I didn't like this one that much, I did enjoy her other book, Vibes. If thats the one you're talking about I liked it and hope you do too.


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