Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Book Review - I'll Give You The Sun

As you guys are probably aware, I'll Give You The Sun was the South Bank Centre's YA Book Club read for July 2016 as part of their Festival of Love (a book club I'm moderating for this month and August, if all goes to plan). Now, I am writing this review BEFORE the Book Club and am posting this AFTER the event so this is my unbiased opinion. I wanted to do this as I wanted to be sure that these are my thoughts and not anyone else's and I go "Huh... maybe they had a point..."

Twins Jude and Noah were close once. Not any more. Something terrible happened to them and now, the twins barely speak. Then Jude meets one captivating sculptor who will mentor her and a beautiful, yet cocky boy - both of whom are equally damaged - just like Jude and Noah.

But Jude and Noah only know half the story. If they want to know the whole story, they need to come together...

I must admit, this has been sitting on my TBR shelves for quite a while. I believe the UK publisher, Walker Books, gave it to me at an event and I was so very excited over it. And then, never got round to it till this book won the vote for July's vote.

This is one of those books I enjoyed reading, but I have problems. There's one or two things that don't sit that well with me, but I get why it had to go that way.

Let's start with the positives. I love that this book was told from dual narratives over two timelines - Noah when he was 13/14, accepting his sexuality and discovering love for the first time & Jude who is sixteen, in art school and is watching her family fall apart after this mystery tragedy. It just flowed and it was really cool how they overlapped and interlinked.

It also was good that these voices were so different - this is a pet peeve of mine. When an author tries to write in two very different voices and they both sound so similar. To me, Noah and Jude's voices were so far removed that it was easy to tell them apart. This worked for me.

Art is important to both characters and I enjoyed how both Noah and Jude showed it. It was more Noah as some of his pages had paint splatter and [Self Portrait] moments thrown at us. And Noah was more over descriptive with colours, whereas Jude told the story with hints of art. It was interesting to see how similar and completely different they are. I like that art had a focus - something I don't normally see in books.

The plot intrigued me and kept me going. Jandy puts several mysteries in place and she unravels them beautiful. It shows character development and give us insight of what cause them and the aftermath these choices made. I kept reading because I wanted to know why. Why did Jude get into Art School but Noah didn't? Why did Noah just stop with art? Why do they both blame themselves? This is what pushed me forward to the end. Because I wanted to know.

However... however, however, however... there are problems. There are things I feel some of you guys will dislike or hate with passion.

The first thing I want to say (and this might surprise you) is how this book is described. There are some lists out there that class this book as an LGBT read. And yes, I get why - Noah is gay - but this book is SO MUCH MORE than Noah's sexuality. If you are going into this expecting a character's voyager of their sexuality, you are going to be disappointed. This book tackles art, family, grief and other things that I don't really want to touch on due to spoilers.

The second thing - and this is one of the things that bothered me - is that both Noah and Jude are kinda... well... self-absorbed. Yes, they are teenagers so I get this, I do. But there were times I get so angry at this "mememe" attitude they both had. Some of you might find them hard to relate to because of this attitude - and while it annoyed me, it didn't take away me reading and enjoy what they were saying. I mean, we were/are teenagers. We have moments of being self-absorbed.

But, the biggest thing I had issue with was the ending. The ending bugged me so much because it was SO NEAT. It was all wrapped up and tied up in a bow and this doesn't seat well with me. Once I had read 3/4 of the book, I was going "This is going to all come out and there is no way there isn't going to be a fallout. It's all going to hit the fan and... wait. Wait, what?". I expected a big reaction and it didn't play out. For some readers, this is the perfect ending, but I felt a little cheated. It was all neat and tidy and this didn't set well with me...

YA contemporary readers will devour this, and while I didn't like the ending, I know I will be hunting down Jandy Nelson's The Sky Is Everywhere, as I know EVERYONE who has read this ADORES it...

PS - while I was reading this, I discovered this Vine (which I love) and it just fits this novel PERFECTLY!!!

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