"I wanted to be a predictable set of reactions to a finite set of situations; I wanted to know that I was a girl who would always make the same choices she'd made before. The thought of changing suddenly and randomly scared me down to my marrow..."
The Cost of All Things is about a world where a magic called Hekame exists. The practitioners, Hekamists, create spells for money. These spells always come with a cost, a cost that grows exponentially if spells are combined.
Ari goes to the Hekamist to forget her boyfriend Win. The pain of losing him is overwhelming. The spell ends up ruining her dancing abilities and her future plans of moving to New York for a dance scholarship. She also can't tell her friends that while they were mourning Win, she doesn't remember anything.
Win, before his untimely passing, narrates chapters about his chronic depression. He befriends the Hekamist's daughter, Echo. She creates a spell to help him even though he can't pay. The two grow close, and Win is her only friend. After his death, Echo ends up blackmailing Ari for the money Win owed.
Diana is Ari's best friend, though they drifted apart when Ari and Win started dating. She has always been passive around Ari, but starts to come into her own. This means dying her hair bright red and getting close to Markos, against Ari's warnings.
Markos was Win's best friend, youngest of a family of brothers who have reputations as man whores. He finds himself falling hard for Diana. He also finds out that his mother was paying the Hekamist for spells for one of his brothers. Then he ends up messing up both of these things.
Finally, Kay became Diana's friend while Ari was busy with Win. She has major abandonment issues stemming from when her sister, who had just recovered from cancer, spent a year traveling the world and left her behind. As a result, Kay bought a spell that keeps her friends close. Ari and Diana have to stay within a certain distance from Kay and cannot be apart from Kay more than a few days. When they try to leave, bad things happen. Kay was by far my least favorite character. I felt a little bad for her at first, but when your issues start to hurt other people, you seriously need to reexamine your choices. Also, don't make your cancer survivor sister's stuff be all about you, and maybe talk to her instead of freaking out that she left you behind.
The description calls this Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind meets We Were Liars, so I was definitely there. I was definitely surprised by the magic aspect. It took a little while to adjust to that idea. I did like the book. It's very emotional, and there's plenty of chances to exclaim over the teenager's poor decision making skills. The moral of the story: maybe don't use magic to solve your problems?
I received my copy of The Cost of All Things from Edelweiss, courtesy of Balzer + Brey. It's available for purchase now.