Sunday, 21 August 2016

Book Review - How I Live Now

Yesterday, I was at the South Bank Centre, moderating the YA Book Club (as part of their Festival of Love) and we were chatting about How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff. Now, I finished this last Sunday and am writing this on Monday (15th August) but posting this now as I didn't want my review/reactions to affect people's who turned up to the club.

Daisy has been sent from New York to England to live with cousins she's never met before. But as soon as she gets there, she feels a strong connection: she feels home. More home than in New York. Summer becomes an Eden... until the bombs are dropped in London and war come crashing into her and her cousins's lives...

I must state something before I go further. I know this is some of you guys's favourite book and it is held with high regard with readers all over the world. I get that and I respect that. But this is my opinion.

I struggled. Very badly with this book. I found it hard work, hard going and I know that, if I wasn't reading this for the South Bank's YA Book Club, I would have stop, put it down and picked up something else. I didn't click with this story or this writing style.

I'm not giving up on Meg Rosoff. I have Beck by Mal Peet, which Meg completed when Mal died. So I am going to try her again, but in a smaller dose. But I'm not sold on her or this story.

I have a lot of issues and problems.

I didn't click with the writing style till a good 50 pages in (and this is a novella of 200 pages so around 25% of the book was me going 'Ok, I need to find my groove"), and not much happened in these 50-odd pages. It was slow and it felt slow throughout (even though it shouldn't due to the events that unfold). Plus, maybe because of my work patterns one the past few weeks, but there were one or two times I nearly fell asleep while reading! That's not a good sign!

But the writing style, I believe, is very marmite. You will either love it or you will hate it. I know people who love Meg's writing style so if the book has a saving grace, it's this.

I had huge problems with Daisy, our narrator and other characters. There was one or two characters I warmed to, but everyone else, I had huge issues with. I disliked Daisy with a passion - I believe she was meant to be written this way. But in books like these, I need to root for my main characters. Even if I dislike them, I have to cheer them on. This wasn't the case with Daisy. I keep putting down the book, shaking my head and cursing her. At one point in the book, I threw the book on the sofa and cursed "You stupid [enter two swear words here]!", giving my other half a scare as I very rarely swear and treat books with little care. Plus, there is an aspect of Daisy I felt was handled very poorly.

Another huge issue I had was Edmond and his relationship with Daisy. I had HUGE problems with this. They are cousin - first cousins, FYI - and age wise, he's 14 and she's 15. But their relationship grossed me out. I was warned about their relationship and I went in open-minded, but nope. BIG FAT NOPE! I have cousins and the idea of me having a relationship like Daisy's and Edmond's upsets and creeps me out no end!

The book reminded me of a book I read YEARS ago called Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsen, which I read back in 2011 (very early days of me book blogging! But if you feel brave, my review is here!). I remember liking it and I had books 2 and 3 at the time (not now, sadly), but I never continued with. Maybe I should go back... But these two books have very similar feels and ideas. However, I think I prefer Tomorrow When the War Began.

I know I sound like I am hating on this book. But I just didn't click with this story. It's just not my cuppa tea. I'm not saying you should avoid (I said that once. Not saying that again as I have grown and learnt better). If you want to read this, that's ok. Go for it! But if you don't want to read this, that's ok too. Every people is different and has different tastes, likes and dislikes.

And I just didn't like this. But I tried. And now, onwards to try another book!

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