Monday, 21 November 2016

Book Review: The Shock of the Fall

THE SHOCK OF THE FALL by Nathan Filer
2 Stars
Verdict: Not worth it.

It took me 307 days to get through this book, which I’m sure is not the intended reading span. It just didn't grip me like I hoped it would.

From early on, I already felt like I knew Matt’s story enough to guess what wasn't said. It made it difficult to keep reading, and so I kept putting it down. Maybe I would have got more out of it if I read it one go, but I just couldn’t.

It opens with the death of Matt’s brother, and leads on to an uncomfortable relationship with his strange mother. From there, I felt like the book didn’t have much of a plot, just Matt’s life but in a jumbled ordered. I found it bland, and unsurprising. Page 178 is when I managed to push through to the end, but by then, it had already lost me.

I think too much was given away at the start. The gaps which were probably meant to keep readers guessing were small enough for me to stride over and reach the finish line long before the book was done.

What I enjoyed from reading this book – a few lines here and there, a good metaphor, the use of typography – wasn’t worth the effort (maybe I tried too hard). I can see from other reviews that a lot of people found it funny, emotive, and engaging, so all I can say is I couldn’t find those same qualities. I found it flat, and that is that.

Source: Bought it.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Book Review: The A to Z of You and Me

THE A TO Z OF YOU AND ME by James Hannah
4 Stars
Verdict: Depressing but addictive

This is a book about Ivo, who has made a lot of bad decisions in life for not enough reasons. It's about drugs, and illness, and death; ruined friendships, lost love, and forgiveness.

It's a depressing book, misery throughout, from rough beginnings to the very end. Somehow I blazed through it like fluff on fire so I know I found it engaging and meaningful.

I felt hollow after finishing it.

I adore the idea behind the chapters. The story is told through Ivo recalling the A to Z of body parts, each with a story behind them, and most of them reminding him of the girl he loves. It's a beautiful idea, although a soul crushing tale.

One of the reasons I enjoyed it, is it explores a different life to my own, a very different set of friends, yet there was still room to relate. It has characters that go against what society prefers, characters who I wanted to understand better

But this is not a book everyone will enjoy. If you're looking for upbeat, optimistic, or even romance, you won't find much in this to enjoy.

Source: Bought it!

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Book Review: Slated

SLATED by Teri Terry 
4 Stars
Verdict:
Like Delirium, but erasing memory instead of love.


Just like every young offender, Kyla has been stripped of her memories for a second chance at life.  With her old life forgotten, she must relearn the world around her and of course stay happy, happy, happy, or the device on her arm will render her unconscious. This is her last chance to prove to everyone that she can be a trusted member of society, after all.

This story is mostly made up of school, family, teachers, and long distance running. In that way, it reminded me of Delirium. I know it’s YA, but I’ve always preferred a little less normality than the daily routine can provide. I find this meant there were a lot of characters and mundane repetitive scenes (hospital, class, bedroom, running, group - repeat), and generally not a lot to get excited about.

Despite that, I found myself enjoying it. I think that’s thanks to the mystery of who was Kyla before she was wiped, and who can she trust? The setting mirrors the present but with a few things askew, enough to keep me wondering what’s not right.

What I enjoyed the most is that nobody acted the way I thought they would. Who’s on Kyla's side, who’s against her? That’s what kept my eyes pinned to the book through what could have been repetitive. The scene might be repetitive but they change with a shift in trust. I honestly think my opinion on every single chapter flipped at least once.

It also asks interesting and complicated questions. If someone said you committed a terrible crime, would you want know what you did? And if you have no memory of it, is it still you who did it? I almost think the integrity of these questions is loosened as soon as characters were taken away for what I'll dub 'dystopian reasons', although I still really like the concept. 

I also appreciate the fact it’s set in England, with sixth form and tutor groups. I’ve read so many American books that I sometimes end up calling sixth form high school. So I'm raising my tea cup for an English spin on a light dystopian.

Source: Bought it!

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Book Review: The Petrified Flesh

THE PETRIFIED FLESH by Cornelia Funke
3 Stars
Verdict: Imaginative storyline, distant prose


Once upon a time, Jacob discovered a fairy tale world through a mirror and became a treasure hunter. When his brother is cursed with jade flesh, he promises to find a cure before the jade consumes him.

My favourite thing about this book was the magical items Jacob acquired from his treasure hunting and the references to the brothers Grimm. I also loved Fox. She’s a caring, stubborn, and strong friend who Jacob could rely on, and they made a great team.

I wasn't so keen on the writing style. The third person narrative was distant and often skipped past scenes which could have been brilliant for character building and general understanding. I had to adapt to the writing style, and that involved, unfortunately, caring less about the details that bring a story to life and sticking with the general idea. For example, Will is cursed before we meet him, and since he's never the same afterwards, we don't really get to know him or feel his relationship with Clara.

While we're on Clara, she felt far too soft for the mirror world. She's delicate, naieve, and quite plain - which is perfectly fine, except she insists on coming along for the ride without bringing anything to the table, and the mirror world is as dark as it is dangerous. Her presence didn't fit. From what little I know about her, I think she would have preferred to stay behind.

On the up side, the pace is smooth, and each chapter is full of magic. The illustrations at the start of each chapter are a nice touch too. All in all, I enjoyed this book, even if I could only handle it in segments at a time.

Source: Review copy from publisher via NetGalley.com