Sunday, 25 March 2012

Book #6

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

It would be much easier to tell this story if it were all about a chaste and perfect love between Two Children Against the World at an Extreme Time in History. But let's face it, that would be crap. Daisy is sent from New York to England to spend a summer with cousins she has never met. They are Isaac, Edmond, Osbert and Piper. And two dogs and a goat. She's never met anyone quite like them before - and, as a dreamy English summer progresses, Daisy finds herself caught in a timeless bubble. It seems like the perfect summer. But their lives are about to explode. Falling in love is just the start of it. War breaks out - a war none of them understands, or really cares about, until it lands on their doorstep. The family is separated. The perfect summer is blown apart. Daisy's life is changed forever - and the world is too.

Six months ago this book would have been my idea of pure rot. A fifteen year old girl falls in love, tells us about it oh so lyrically, then has her world ripped apart by war and spends the rest of the story making her way back to her loved ones. I had too hard a heart for stories like this, and I would never have made my way through this in its entirety. However, due to recent events in my own life my heart has turned into a steamy pile of mush, and I can relate completely. I loved the book. If anyone else out there has had all of their previous literary opinions changed by falling in love, I would really like to hear about it. Thoroughly enjoying young adult love stories was not something I anticipated.

The writing style was gorgeous, and warmed me to our narrator immediately. It was so full of rambling sentences, and typical teenage phrases, that I felt I knew her incredibly well after only a few pages. There were tiny snippets of foreshadowing, which I'm a sucker for, and I loved the Random Capitalisation in Order to Emphasise a Point. It reinforced the chaos in both our protagonist's world, and in her mind. I am not entirely sure whether Rosoff's strange style here would suit all readers, but I am a strange girl myself and really enjoyed it.

The love story, although lovely, was slightly disturbing. I said above I could relate, and I really could, but only to the feelings. Our narrator fell in love with her cousin, with which I could not relate. Just to be clear. The relationship was horrific, but intriguing, and certainly added to the good old "I couldn't put it down" book review cliché. What was most worrying about this entire scenario was the fact that no one really bothered about the fact that these two cousins were blatantly getting it on. I wonder whether such behaviour is acceptable in the dystopian future Rosoff weaved for us. It seems unlikely. Why was no one even remotely shocked?

I may be completely off the mark here, but I sensed a Hunger Games feel to this book. We have a strong(ish) female protagonist on a quest for survival, taking care of a younger, weaker 'sibling'. The dystopia was mildly terrifying in that it was believable and something that could absolutely happen in future. It also didn’t seem like a dystopian future, as such; I felt as though the events were taking place now.

The climax of the novel threw me slightly. We are thrown six years forward in the narrative with extremely odd and disjointed explanations. Many of the questions remained unanswered and I am in two minds as to whether this is delicious or irritating.

I really did love this book, although I don't feel it merits a reread. It was beautiful and enchanting, but disturbing. It's aimed at the young adult audience; however most of the plot details really are quite inappropriate for a younger reader. It's definitely worth a look for us oldies, though; thought-provoking, engaging and a little bit magical.

6 / 50 books. 12% done!

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Book #5

Everything's Eventual is a collection of 14 short stories written by Stephen King and published in 2002.

This is a collection of short stores I was really excited about reading, but I have come away with mixed feelings. There were no stories in here which I found to be in any way outstanding. Some were good, some were terrible, and some were beyond the pale.

I always find it difficult to review anthologies for no other reason than the fact of sheer variety. It would make perfect sense to go through all fourteen stories and review them all on their own merit, but my passion for this book is so low that I couldn’t do this. My favourite story was the collection's namesake, Everything's Eventual, although I felt it should have been expanded. I also enjoyed The Road Virus Heads North and Riding the Bullet. These were the creepiest two for me, and were very subtly linked, which I really liked. King also gave us a prequel to the Dark Tower series, The Little Sisters of Eluria. I didn't enjoy this one, either, and I must admit it has somewhat dulled my desire to read the series.

I love King. I really do. I think he is one of the best commercial writers of our time, and his appeal to our odd alter egos is nothing more than delicious. I just wasn't enthralled, I wasn't excited, I wasn't as "Get this book in the freezer or so help me God," as I was when I read The Shining. Despite this, King is marvellous, and although these stories did make me think and shiver, maybe this collection just wasn't for me. I couldn't engage with the characters, I wasn't dying to pick the book up again; it almost felt like a chore. I really didn't want to feel like this because I've loved everything else I've read by King.

This is a very negative review, one which I didn't anticipate having to write, but one which I feel is required. I doubt everyone will agree with me on this one; it's not you, Stephen, it's me.

5 / 50 books. 10% done!