Friday, 28 February 2014

My Brother Simple - Maire-Aude Murail

A Spoiler Free Bit About The Book

Kleber has trouble searching for somewhere to live with his brother Simple who has learning difficulties giving him the IQ of a three year old.  Taking matters into his own hands, Kleber moves himself and Simple into a flat with some university students to show his father that Simple does not need to go back to the institution that frightens him.

Somehow the flat mates have to accept Simple and Kleber for who they are whilst dealing with the issues in their own lives.

My Review

This book is like nothing I've ever read before.  It was very strange at first.  It was written in the third person which I don't usually like because I find it difficult to connect with the characters.  But somehow this still felt personal.  I understood all the characters and wanted to know more about them.  Not at first however.  The flat mates took some getting used to as at first I hated them all.  But I think you're supposed to.

Getting back to the way it was written, it switched from point of view as do many third person novels, but unlike them, it was done without a break between characters.  We could be following Kleber and then all of a sudden we're following Simple without anything to tell us other than Murail's voice.  Even though it wasn't obvious when we were changing, it was still clear, if that makes any sense at all.  I always knew who was in the spotlight at which points and that is pure genius.  Murail really does have a talent for voice.

I don't really have much else to say.  It was odd.  It made me think.  I enjoyed reading it.

The only other thing I can think of is that I had no idea where the plot was going but not in a good way.  I was reading and there was no hook because I didn't know where it was going.  It almost felt like a sitcom and not a novel.  I enjoyed it nonetheless.

This will be the shortest review of all time because I'm still unsure what I really thought of this book.


Plot - 7/10 - very interesting idea

Way Plot Was Pursued - 6/10 - I wanted more to happen but maybe that's the beauty of this book - that it's so Simple

Characters - 7/10 - I liked them but that took time

Style - 8/10 - felt weird to read but the 'voice' was great.

Pace - 8/10 - nothing wrong with it but nothing to keep me reading

Would I recommend it? - Yes, especially if you're looking for something different.

Would I look up the author? - No.  This was a translation from French and maybe that was why I found it so odd.

My Brother Simple was heart-warming and special, there won't be much else like it.

Molly Looby
Author / Editor / Blogger / Reviewer / Wrimo / Movellian / ZA Ready

Friday, 21 February 2014

How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff

A Spoiler Free Bit About The Book

Daisy is sent off to the English countryside to live with her Aunt and cousins she hasn't even met.  But when war breaks out Daisy will have to learn how to survive and cope alone with only her cousins for company.

My Review

Funnily enough, I couldn't make this book sound good in my Spoiler Free Bit.  But the true blurb does sound good.  I guess that sums up my feelings for this book.  The rest of the world seemed to love it.  I hated it.  It was the most overrated book I've ever read before.  And I've read and hated Uglies by Scott Westerfeld.

As you can imagine, this review is going to be the complete opposite from my last one which was just me going on about how much I loved The Fault In Our Stars.  This one is going to be me going on about how much I hated How I Live Now.

Where should I start . . . with the first thing that irritated me.  In chapter one, I might add.  The repetition of 'and'.  Christ.  And, and, and, was all that chapter one seemed to consist of.  I did this and then I did this and so-and-so did this with this and this and there was this and this and this.  You get the gist.  After three chapters of this I wanted to scratch my eyes out.  I wanted to scream.  I was wondering how long this incredibly short book would be if I took out all the 'ands'.

After I let this go, I found something just as annoying.  The Capitalisation Of Everything And Anything Possible.  I'm not exaggerating.  My favourite example is that Rosoff capitalised "Just In Case" and other such every day phrases as that.  They stuck out like a child's writing and every time my eyes drifted to one I wanted to groan aloud.  What is the need?  What does it add?  What does it prove?  Nothing.

As long term readers of this blog will know, I'm a character girl.  I'm in it for them and their journey, whatever the plot is.  During How I Live Now I learnt almost nothing about any of the characters.  There were a few bits and pieces on Daisy but that was it.  I never got any of their past or a hint of their dreams and motives.  I didn't understand them, I didn't know them, and consequently, didn't care about them even a tiny bit.  It could've been worse, I could've not liked them.  But I really didn't have enough information to hate them.  How bad it that?

Daisy.  Well.  Where do I even start with Daisy?  She has an issue with food and she was starving herself which made me incredibly angry because she didn't have anorexia.  I've read books with characters suffering from anorexia and Daisy was most certainly not suffering from it.  She just didn't eat.  Ever.  And was perfectly healthy and fine.  This is an insult.  At points it made being slim and not eating seem like the right thing to do which is a disgusting idea to put in a YA novel read by young girls.  

Also, she was supposed to be fifteen.  Her age was drilled into us again and again which was so irritating.  But it's probably because if you weren't reminded over and over you would forget because her 'voice' was not fifteen.  I was only fifteen four years ago and I can tell you I was more mature at fifteen than Daisy was.  My vocabulary was wider as was everyone's that I knew.  At fifteen you've started your GCSE's.  You are not naive.  You are not innocent.  Not really.  At most, Daisy was thirteen, at most.

The reported style didn't help at all.  I was an outsider at all times.  Uncomfortably distant.  I was just listening to a story that had happened long ago so all suspense was lost.  That and because I didn't care about the characters, I wasn't bothered about what happened to them anyway.

Rosoff repeatedly mentioned the 'magic' that was in the family but never went on to explain it in any detail.  In the end, there seemed to be not a lot of point for this at all.  And as a plot point stressed the whole way through, I felt as though I'd missed something when it turned out to be utterly useless.

And after all that, after everything that annoyed me during this book - which was everything - nothing even seemed to happen.  There was nothing going on that I was remotely interested in.  There was nothing drawing me to the page or even keeping me to the end of the sentence.  I read it to the end only because it was so short, but it never seemed to get going.  I have no idea where the draw was here.

It was critically acclaimed because it was a YA novel about the realities of war, nothing more.


Plot - 7/10 - a war story so it should've been better

Way Plot Was Pursued - 1/10 - for once, there's nothing good I can even try to say

Characters - 2/10 - they meant nothing to me and were nothing special

Style - 1/10 - boring and childish and repetitious

Pace - 8/10 - the pace wasn't bad.  Oh look, a good thing to say at last.

Would I recommend it? - No.  I would never recommend this book to anyone.

Would I look up the author? - No.  Not on your life.

How I Live Now was a horrible experience from start to finish.

Molly Looby
Author / Editor / Blogger / Reviewer / Wrimo / Movellian / ZA Ready

Thursday, 13 February 2014

The Fault In Our Stars - John Green

A Spoiler Free Bit About The Book

I usually write my own blurbs in this section.  I don't actually use the published ones because I feel I can shorten them and give you the gist.  I'm not doing that this time.  I can't seem to find a way.  So this time, here's the real blurb!

Despite the tumour-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis.  But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel's story is about to be completely rewritten.

My Review

I warn you now, this review is going to be me raving about how beautiful and perfect this book was.  I could find no fault with it.  None at all.  This is one of those rare books that will change you.  I put this book down and I wanted to pick it up again at once.  I could read this all day everyday over and over again, much as Hazel does with An Imperial Affliction during TFIOS.

I loved this book from the start.  From paragraph one.  From sentence one.  I knew from the first sentence that this book was something very special, and you can't often say that.

TFIOS was many things.  Tragic.  Honest.  Funny.  It was a perfect blend of all my emotions at once.  I was laughing one minute and wiping tears off my face the very next.  And then laughing again.

It was brutally honest.  And it needed to be.  That was why it was so funny sometimes.  Hazel and Augustus were so real to me.  They were the perfect mix of intelligence and teenagers that you never seem to get in YAs.  They said things you would say and did things you would do.  They screamed and cried and laughed and loved.  They were flawed, of course they were.  They were beautiful and I would've followed them to the ends of the earth.  They were the kind of characters you want to know in real life.  As sad as this is, I wanted to be their friends immediately.  I'm not even ashamed.

TFIOS gives you the harsh reality about cancer that many other books about it don't give.  It wasn't prettied up, shall we say.  We readers were not lied to.  Why should we be?  We know full well it's not going to be pretty when we pick up the book so I applaud John Green for not sugar-coating it for us.  It may be for teenagers, but teenagers can handle the truth.  I hate it when adults forget that.

Of course it wasn't just the harsh realities of cancer that made this book stand out.  It was the other harsh realities too.  About illness and death and love and life and dreams.  So many subjects were covered and interlaced perfectly.  This book is the home to my soul now for so many reasons.

I devoured this book in no time.  I read it at every opportunity and willed it to be longer because I was sad I was going to finish it before I was half way through.  I read the second half of the book all in one day.  I cried a lot.  On the train into London.  On the streets of London.  I didn't even care.  I just couldn't get it out of my head or my heart - nor did I want to.

John Green is a beautiful writer.  There were so many lines I read and then had to share because keeping the book all to myself was a crime, and yet the most delicious thing in the world.


Plot - 10/10 - went places I didn't expect

Way Plot Was Pursued - 10/10 - beautiful honesty

Characters - 10/10 - in love with them

Style - 10/10 - faultless

Pace - 10/10 - perfect

Would I recommend it? - Yes.  A thousand times over.  Grab a box of tissues, a cup of tea, some chocolate and give your soul to John Green.

Would I look up the author? -Yes, already done.  Planning to read everything this man's written.

The Fault In Our Stars will have a place in my heart for every day I remain on this earth.

Molly Looby
Author / Editor / Blogger / Reviewer / Wrimo / Movellian / ZA Ready

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Reached - Ally Condie

Watch out for 'Matched' and 'Crossed' spoilers!

A Spoiler Free Bit About The Book

Against all odds, after crossing the canyons and surviving, Ky and Cassia are back in the Society, waiting for the Pilot's voice to tell them it's time.
Time for rebellion.  Time for what they've always longed for.
A choice.

My Review

I needed a quick beginning.  I needed stuff to start happening almost immediately.  I remembered the slow start to 'Crossed' and I begged for 'Reached' to be different.  Obviously Ally Condie didn't hear me.  'Reached' took such a long time to get off the ground.  So long, in fact, if it wasn't the finale in a trilogy I would've put it down.  But as often do, I persevered, wanting stuff to happen now, not being motivated in the slightest to read it but still making myself.  when stuff started happening it was good.  It just took a long time to get to it.

While I'm on the negatives, the style was contrasting in places which struck me as being very bizarre.  Sometimes the writing was so beautiful and descriptive, the sentences flowing like they were born that way,  but other times it seemed too simple, child like even.  Both these styles are fine . . . but not together.  It clashed a bit for me.

I also found a typo.  I know some people find typos in every book they read but I don't, I'm a fast reader.  I don't linger long enough to notice mistakes.  But I saw this one.  It stuck out to me like it was in bold.  I even read it over a couple of times to make sure it wasn't just me not understanding.  I'm pretty sure it was a typo.  The reason it was such a big deal was that it took me out of the world and put me back in my own head.  And that's not something you want to happen while you're reading.

Now for my favourite things.  I loved that I got to- at last - see the world through Xander's eyes as well as Cassia's and Ky's.  I've always loved Xander as a character and I loved him even more knowing what he was thinking.  I understood him perfectly.  He was my favourite characters and narrator of all three.

I was amazed by the way that everything fit together so perfectly.  The trilogy must've been so thoroughly planned that Condie wouldn't have been surprised by anything she was writing.  Everything, and I mean everything, turned out to be important.  I applaud Condie's genius.  Never before have I read a series that made every tiny detail mean something in the end.

The end was so beautifully poetic and I felt it matched Casia's personality which was the perfect sign off by her.  Everything was complete and I felt soothed by the ending and content.


Plot - 8/10 - back in the Society and life isn't pretty

Way Plot Was Pursued - 8/10 - three points of view made this book

Characters - 9/10 - few new ones and the old ones were built on.  I understood them so much more this time around

Style - 7/10 - clash of styles

Pace - 6/10 - too slow to start

Would I recommend it? - Yes.  but only if you've read and liked 'Matched' and 'Crossed'.

Would I look up the author? No.  Didn't love it enough.

'Reached' contented me with its ending but didn't blow me away.

Molly Looby
Author / Editor / Reviewer / Blogger / Wrimo / Movellian / ZA Ready