Malachi is hiding a big secret from his devoutly religious family – he’s gay. He hasn’t told his family yet but he already knows they won’t accept hisMalachi is hiding a big secret from his devoutly religious family – he’s gay. He hasn’t told his family yet but he already knows they won’t accept his sexuality and will try to ‘cure’ him or convince him it’s just a phase. Of course, when they do find out things don’t turn out well for Malachi – convinced that he’s suffering from SSAD (same sex attraction disorder, which, by the way, some people ACTUALLY think is a real disorder) they enroll him in a controversial summer camp programme that’s supposed to set him on the ‘right’ path.
The horrors that Malachi witnesses and is subjected to during his gay conversion therapy are disturbing and upsetting to read, made even more upsetting when you realise there are real life cases where similar things have happened. Though this is fiction, it’s rooted in truth and shows just how dangerous religious extremism can be.
Strongly written and with a memorable cast of characters who will stick in your mind long after you’ve finished reading, Malachi the Queer isn’t an easy book to read and wouldn’t be suitable for younger readers, but it feels like a story that needs to be told, and touches on extremism that I haven’t seen explored in many novels. With a story packed full of twists and turns, as well as hope and love being thrown into the mix alongside pain and misery, this is a redemption story that will have your full attention until you’ve turned the final page....more
Crank is an absolutely terrifying novel about Kristina’s descent into crystal meth addiction. At the beginning of the novel she’s a shy youth who isn’Crank is an absolutely terrifying novel about Kristina’s descent into crystal meth addiction. At the beginning of the novel she’s a shy youth who isn’t quite sure where she fits into the world but, after meeting a rebellious boy while visiting her estranged father, Kristina vanishes and Bree appears – her violent, vindictive alter ego who will stop at nothing to get her next fix.
Reading Crank was my first experience of Ellen Hopkins’ writing but I fell in love instantly. I’ve always enjoyed verse novels but haven’t read as many as I’d like (I started with Sonja Sones’ Stop Pretending and have been hooked ever since) so when I found out about Hopkins I was desperate to give her novels a go. I always prefer my young adult novels to have a bit of edge to them so Crank seemed to be the perfect read for me. And it was.
It’s not exactly enjoyable reading about the journey Kristina goes on but the writing is second to none and I couldn’t shake the hope that she would manage to come out the other side of addiction, relatively unscathed. Of course, that’s entirely unrealistic and another wonderful thing about this novel is that every detail had been researched and well thought out. At no point did I feel like Hopkins was imagining how the family would feel – she knows exactly how drug addiction can tear a family apart and it shows.
Despite the horrible things she does to get a fix, I couldn’t help but be sympathetic to Kristina, right up to the end of the novel and even when she’s at her lowest, there are still glimpses of the kind, sweet girl we saw at the beginning of the story. Hopkins’ characterisation is brilliant and she manages to slip in shockingly horrific events with ease that fit in right alongside the awkward family breakfasts and stereotypical teen parties.
After reading the first installment of Kristina’s battle against the monster I’m absolutely desperate to get my hands on Glass before the September release of the final book, Fallout....more
As most of you know I'm a huge Ellen Hopkins fan and am gradually working my way through her books. The way she deals with such complex issues withoutAs most of you know I'm a huge Ellen Hopkins fan and am gradually working my way through her books. The way she deals with such complex issues without ever being patronising or overly preachy is something I love. That, and her beautiful way with words.
From the outset Burned felt a little different to the other novels I've read by Hopkins. It felt little more hopeful and the romance was an important part of the story, something that I haven't particularly noticed in the other books of hers that I've read. I've always been impressed that she can write such successful YA books without the need for romance but the love story in Burned was welcome and important to the book.
Pattyn, our heroine, is a brilliant character. I absolutely bonded with her from page one and her situation was so horrible that I was worried the whole way through the story about the ending. As any of you who have read Hopkins' books before - she isn't exactly a fan of Hollywood endings! Although, one of the things I most admire about her is that she's always realistic. Of course, it's frustrating and sad when bad things happen to your favourite characters but, unfortunately, that's life. Everything she writes is real and I really appreciate that.
I originally did think Burned was a standalone and I think it works great on its own. However, I recently discovered that there's a sequel (Smoke), which is due out in 2013. I'm not sure where Hopkins can possibly go in a second installment but I'll definitely be reading it. At times Burned is difficult to read because of the subject matter but I urge you to give it a go, it's a really beautiful book....more
‘Me, Lo and Mira were like the good things that come in threes: wishes, kings, backup singers.’
What an opening. The first line of this book’s blurb wa‘Me, Lo and Mira were like the good things that come in threes: wishes, kings, backup singers.’
What an opening. The first line of this book’s blurb was enough to have me flying through the pages at lightning speed. From the outset I was optimistic about Notes from the Teenage Underground. The premise is great, the narrator instantly likeable, and I can never resist a novel that focuses on teenagers who don’t quite fit in with their peers.
I’m pleased to say that the book doesn’t disappoint. The entire story is well-rounded and developed, coming full circle with a truly satisfying ending that still left me with a few questions to ponder long after I’d finished reading. Lovely stuff.
Gem, Lo and Mira are outsiders, but they clearly wouldn’t have it any other way. The three friends pass their time each summer by dedicating themselves to a pre-decided theme that carves out how they live their lives in the break. The year before the novel is set, it was the gothic Summer of Satan, but it’s time to mature and find something different, edgier, underground.
And so the girls make grand plans for their summer. They’re going to make an underground film, hold hip gatherings at their version of Andy Warhol’s Factory, and be generally cool. At first it seems like a harmless enough idea: have a few parties, write a script, and wear a lot of pop art T-shirts, but things take a dark turn when Lo and Mira decide they’re not quite living the underground life as it should be lived.
According to Lo and Mira, underground isn’t about innocent teenage fun - it’s about drugs, alcohol, promiscuity and general hedonism. This spells trouble for awkward Gem, who feels more and more unsure of her place in the group as the novel progresses. Bad news for Gem, but good news for us readers, who are treated to some brilliantly descriptive passages from Howell detailing Lo and Mira’s boundary-pushing debauchery.
‘At 0200 hours, Cola arched his back and pissed a fountain of yellow into the spa. I zoomed in on Bliss standing by with a look of horror. Pony was comforting her, rubbing Bliss’s shaking shoulders, making noises about the police.
I imagined Allan Kaprow shaking his head. His Happenings were determined, rehearsed productions, we were just trashing the place.’
One of the things that makes Notes from the Teenage Underground such a pleasure to read is Howell’s obvious passion for the underground scene, a passion that obviously existed long before she started work on this novel, and it shows. There are the classic names everybody associates with the underground - Warhol, Thoreau and Sedgwick, to name a few - but lesser-known masters (and mistresses) of the movement are talked about just as frequently and with the same level of respect.
Howell’s prose is punchy and unapologetic. She’ll talk about drugs and sex, and she’s not going to apologize or censor it. Good - that’s just the way it should be in a novel like this. It brings a genuine feel to the story that I really appreciated. However, sometimes she pulls back and treats us to some lovely, delicate little lines that I wish I’d written myself:
‘And then she ambushed me with a hug. She smelled like sleep and sandalwood, and I held on longer than I thought I would.’
As many readers of this blog will know, I'm an absolutely huge horror fan. I love all types of horror but my favourites are those that linger in my miAs many readers of this blog will know, I'm an absolutely huge horror fan. I love all types of horror but my favourites are those that linger in my mind long after finishing the book - I love those that slowly seep into my subconcious and terrify me when I least expect it. Come Closer is definitely one of those books.
In novels and films we generally see demonic possession from the point of view of the victim's boyfriend or best friend - very rarely from the point of view of the character who is becoming possessed. What helps to make Come Closer so absorbing and terrifying is that it's written in the first person, so as the demon slowly takes hold of Amanda we see her personality and voice change from a vibrant young woman who lives life to the full to a vindictive, sly demon who destroys everybody around her. Truly creepy.
One of the things I loved about Come Closer is how subtly and slowly the story develops. At first Amanda's out of character acts barely register on the demon possession scale and initially I did begin to wonder if the novel was going to take off but boy did it! After the first few chapters things really kick off and Amanda's downward spiral into Naarmah's clutches is absolutely haunting - and so realistic, by the end of the novel I really was on the look out for signs of demons everywhere!
Come Closer would work so well on the big screen and I would love to see a really well crafted film adaptation, definitely with Natalie Portman playing Amanda/Naarmah. It's a very visual film and Gran's writing is top notch - I found it so easy to visualise Amanda and Ed's world and I would love to see this in the hands of a careful director who loves the genre. It could be awesome.
Come Closer really is a gem - I only found it through hours of searching through Amazon but it definitely deserves more hype. It's a brilliantly written book with realistic characters and a truly unsettling story. I read it in a single sitting and would absolutely recommend it to anybody who likes to scary themselves silly - fans of Long Lankin, ahoy!...more
Unwind is one of those books that I gave in and bought a copy of, simply because I was sick of people constantly telling me I had to read it. InitiallUnwind is one of those books that I gave in and bought a copy of, simply because I was sick of people constantly telling me I had to read it. Initially, I didn’t think the book sounded like my kind of thing but when I had a look online, I found numerous reviews talking about a certain scene that was so disturbing they couldn’t get it out of their heads. People were even saying the book was disgusting and too controversial for young readers, despite it being on the reading list in many schools. Ah, maybe I would enjoy it then.
In short, the process of unwinding is defined as follows, ‘unwinding occurs when a person between the ages of 13 and 18 is surgically separated and all body parts are used as transplant parts for others.’ Pretty horrible, huh? Well, Unwind is the story of three runaway unwinds who are trying to stay hidden until their eighteenth birthdays, to escape their hideous fate.
Our protagonists include tough on the outside, soft of the inside Connor – whose parents gave him up because of his constant fighting. He quickly becomes the leader of any situation he’s placed in and develops a soft spot for Risa, who grew up in a state home and was given up for unwinding as they believed she had ‘reached her full potential’.
Then we have Lev, who is a ‘tithe’, also known as a religious sacrifice. At first he is happy that he’s being unwound. As far as he’s concerned that’s his purpose in life and he’s accepted it. However, after he runs away with Connor and Risa, he begins to realise that there is more to life than he first thought and his growing contempt for his parents changes him from an innocent young boy into a rebellious youth, who will stop at nothing to survive.
Unwind is told from all three perspectives and this is a great device. The story stays personal enough that we get to develop a relationship with each protagonist but the great thing about the split narrative is that when the three become split up, we can follow each character on their journey and the story still maintains its personal feel – very nice.
So, I’d heard a lot about this certain scene in Unwind, that is so horrific and disturbing etc etc. Well, it’s really not that bad. The scene is brilliantly written and quite terrifying but I’m not sure it’s bad enough to deserve all the crazy hype. Watch out for it though – it’s near the end, you’ll know when you hit it and I can say first hand it’s definitely best to go in blind so don’t look it up on Wikipedia. Promise?
Unwind is a fantastic novel and it deserves its reputation as a modern classic. It’s thoroughly inventive, brilliantly written and genuinely scary. The scares are psychological here, though, so expect the story to stay with you long after you’ve finished reading.
It definitely got me wondering how I would have survived in a world similar to that in Unwind – I like to think I’d have made it to my eighteen birthday but who knows. Would you?...more
Let me start by saying that everything you need to know about Now You're One of Us is perfectly conveyed on the cover. Really, this has to be my favouLet me start by saying that everything you need to know about Now You're One of Us is perfectly conveyed on the cover. Really, this has to be my favourite cover of all time. I bought the book knowing absolutely nothing about the story but I knew it was going to be great with that cover. Just...so...icky. Pube in the soap!
I suppose I should also preface this review by saying that if you're uptight about, well, pretty much anything then Now You're One of Us probably isn't for you. I'm about as relaxed as they come and it had me raising my eyebrows. A quick flick through the reviews on Goodreads shows this one wasn't a hit with a lot of readers and it's clear a lot of people found it shocking. Yes, there are some shocking moments but they're not the biggest part of this book. It's a fantastic, gothic family saga-cum-horror and I loved it.
Noriko is such a brilliant lead. I felt everything she felt - when she was beginning to feel a little creeped out by her new family, I was too, when she felt guilty for insulting them after they were so sweet and treated her so well, I completely got it. She's great. She isn't one of those delicate heroines who is too scared to say her piece - while she tries to be polite at all times, Noriko isn't afraid to have a little tiff now and then and her wild outbursts at various family members were so well written.
From page one there's an unsettling tone and it doesn't dip as the novel progresses. In fact, it grows and grows until the last quarter of the story - where everything goes straight to crazy town. Seriously, bat shit crazy. I did finish reading with a certain feeling of 'wtaf?' (the 'a' is for actual, by the way - which means things got seriously weird) but I loved it. It was awesome - something I read purely for enjoyment (for a while I wasn't going to review it).
I would absolutely love to see a well-made movie version but equally, I think a badly made version would probably made me throw up - I can see it now. Ew.
As I said earlier on, if you have any sort of inhibitions then this book probably isn't for you but if creepy is your thing and the thought of pubes on soap piques your interest then definitely check out Now You're One of Us. It's evil and brilliant in equal measure. ...more
In the Miso Soup is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting novels I've read this year. I want to recommend it to everybody I know who reads butIn the Miso Soup is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting novels I've read this year. I want to recommend it to everybody I know who reads but I know that wouldn't be a good idea. This certainly isn't a book for anybody but, if you aren't easily offended and like your books with a creepy intensity then you'll definitely love this one - the comparisons to Silence of the Lambs and American Psycho are spot on.
The intensity of In the Miso Soup is crazy - I was nervous from page one and ready for something horrific to happen the entire way through. I did think there was going to be more gore and violence than their was but I'm glad Murakami used it sparingly - it made the few violent moments much more shocking.
Kenji was such an interesting narrator and his character is definitely what helped to make In the Miso Soup so interesting. I wasn't always sure whether he was reliable or not and the unsolved murders throughout the book made me question everybody - at times I thought Frank was all in Kenji's head, I thought Kenji was in Frank's head... at another point I thought everything was in Jun's head! Sometimes I thought Kenji had committed the murders, another time I convinced myself Jun was the killer and, of course, Frank was always close to the top of my list of suspects. Now maybe I was right about one of those points, maybe I was wrong - you'll have to give the book a go to see, won't you?
Murderer or not, misunderstood or not, Frank was an absolutely hideous character. Repulsive, rude and unpredictable, he was a true villain and genuinely scared me. He seemed to have a quietly passive agressive streak running through him and was prone to snap at any moment - terrifying. What I hated is how normal he was, he just seemed like a regular businessman who you could run into anywhere in the world. The fact he was so unassuming on the surface made him all the more unsettling.
Courtney Summers has written a brilliant review of this one on Goodreads so if you're still not sure whether you'll like it or not I urge you to read her review, I hope it'll make up your mind. She makes some excellent points, especially where she says In the Miso Soup reminds her of a Robert Cormier novel - he's one of my favourite authors and I did think that on a few occasions. There you have it - if you like Silence of the Lambs, American Psycho, Robert Cormier OR Courtney Summers then this one is for you! ...more
When I picked up a copy of Heart Shaped Box I had no idea that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son. I'm an absolutely huge Stephen King fan and like to priWhen I picked up a copy of Heart Shaped Box I had no idea that Joe Hill is Stephen King's son. I'm an absolutely huge Stephen King fan and like to pride myself on knowing his writing style inside out. By the time I'd read a couple of chapters of Heart Shaped Box it was clear that the writer had picked up a few quirks from Stephen King - it wasn't exactly his style but this and that just reminded me of his books, particularly his earlier stories.
I am impressed that Hill has gone it alone with his writing - he's always written under a pen name and always refers to his father as 'Dad', rather than 'my father, Stephen King', which it must have been tempting to do. He's definitely earned his popularity based on his great storytelling, rather than having his career handed to him because of his father. Yay for that.
Heart Shaped Box is an unsettling read and feels incredibly real, which I think is what makes it so creepy. There isn't much gore or blood - instead it's the psychological side of things that will linger with you after you finish the book. While Hill's metaphors got a little repetitive towards the end of the book, the characters were brought to life so well that I couldn't stop reading - I had to know how it all ended.
Oh, also, the dogs were brilliant - some of the most vibrant characters in the book. They were just fab. Look out for them if you decide you check out Heart-Shaped Box, they will make you smile and make you cry....more
I think one of the most alluring things about The Adoration of Jenna Fox is that we uncover Jenna’s secret at the same time she does. We’re with her eI think one of the most alluring things about The Adoration of Jenna Fox is that we uncover Jenna’s secret at the same time she does. We’re with her every step of the way, from her slow and painful recovery to the moment she finds out about her hideous past and I think Pearson’s excellent use of the first person helps a great deal with this.
I genuinely liked Jenna as a character, which is always so important, especially in a novel like this where she is the entire focus of the book. I cared about her past, I cared that she was going through such a traumatic time and I wanted more than anything for her to have a happy ending. I wanted her to fall in love and move on from her past and be free to make the most of the life she has left.
The Adoration of Jenna Fox is a very visual novel. Pearson’s writing reminded me a lot of Robert Cormier (one of my favourites!) and that’s something I’ve always thought about his work too. I could completely visualise every scene and think this is a story that would translate excellently as a film, particularly the scenes between Lily and Jenna, which I did shed a tear at from time to time (another one that made me cry – it’s getting ridiculous now!).
In today’s young adult market we can’t move for sci-fi novels set in ‘a future closer than we think’ and often I find one novel is just a poorly written rip off of another. I’m pleased to report that Jenna Fox is completely original and I haven’t read anything like this one before. Of course there were elements that reminded me of other novels, as I mentioned Robert Cormier’s voice earlier, but this isn’t something that put me off at all. Pearson has her own writing style, her own ideas and her own wonderful characters. This is the first thing I’ve read of Pearson’s but I’ll certainly be checking out more of her books in the future.
Finally, as a huge Lost fan, I can’t resist pointing out how happy it made me that Jenna’s father was called Matthew Fox. Simple things, I know.
I’m a reader who likes to be gripped from the very beginning. I like a punchy first sentence and a big reveal in the first chapter. Unfortunately The Adoration of Jenna Fox is slow to start and it wasn’t until I was almost a third of the way through that I really got into it. I knew I wasn’t enjoying the beginning when I kept putting it down after a few pages and had to force myself to read on.
Another slight gripe with this one is the character of Dane. I felt as though he was set up to be mysterious, sexy and a possible love interest for Jenna. However, his character fell completely flat and I found myself skipping over the exchanges between him and Jenna. Ethan, however, was much more up my street!
Final thoughts: Edgy and unique, I couldn’t help but be drawn into Jenna’s world, where she learns just how far people go to protect the ones they love....more
So, this is one of those reviews that I have absolutely no idea how to write. Anything Chaos Walking related just turns my mind to mush. What I do knoSo, this is one of those reviews that I have absolutely no idea how to write. Anything Chaos Walking related just turns my mind to mush. What I do know, though, is that The Knife of Never Letting Go is one of the best books I have ever read. Honestly. That's not something I'd say lightly as I don't rave about books very often. But this one, seriously, it's in a different league.
Dystopia has become a bit of a trend in YA at the moment, while some of it is great, some of it is not so good. The Knife of Never Letting Go is one of the first dystopia books I came across (long before it became a trend) and it's definitely the strongest I've ever read. The world Ness creates is so vivid, I haven't felt so engrossed in a different world since I read Harry Potter.
The characters here are fantastic. Todd and Viola are both so brilliantly well developed - I love that Todd is a flawed hero, struggling with his identity and the awkward transition of going from being a boy to a man. When it comes to light that everything Todd has grown up believing may actually be a lie he is thrown into complete turmoil. Who can he trust? Who is it who is lying to him? He feels completely alone and that feeling of isolation is definitely something we can all relate to, even though none of us have been in a situation quite as extreme as Todd's.
I want to give Manchee his own paragraph. Seriously, that dog. So sweet I swear to God he may have given me diabetes. Such a wonderful character and I'm a sucker for dogs as it is. He made me want to give my puppy a big fat hug.
The ideas explored in The Knife of Never Letting Go are so complex, I'm sure I'll be able to read this one over and over again and still take in more details that I missed before. How would you adapt if everyone around you could read your thoughts? How would you cope without any privacy? Life in Prentisstown is a truly terrifying thought and Mayor Prentiss, well he plain scared the crap out of me. ...more
Somehow I managed to get to twenty three years old without reading (or watching) The Woman in Black. Strange, right? Especially for a horror fan. WhatSomehow I managed to get to twenty three years old without reading (or watching) The Woman in Black. Strange, right? Especially for a horror fan. What's even more absurd is that I'd somehow managed to get to twenty three without knowing much about the story at all. I'd been told by various friends that the play was the scariest thing they'd ever seen and I had to go and see it but I decided I had to read the book first, especially as I'd heard such brilliant things about Susan Hill (yes, she is brilliant).
The Woman in Black is a short novel at 166 pages so it's easy to race through in one sitting - you'll want to as well. The story is utterly captivating and I couldn't turn away once I'd started reading. I had absolutely no idea what the big climax would be but I knew from page one it was going to be completely terrifying. It was. It really, really was. I finished it almost a month ago and I'm still unsettled!
This is absolutely a classic horror story. The prose is beautiful and edited to perfection - no words are wasted and I'm desperate to see the play, if only to hear Hill's beautiful words brought to life. The descriptions of Eel Marsh House are fantastic (and made me frequently think of Du Maurier's Rebecca) and the sense of foreboding from the outset is huge - the tension builds and builds until the reader is reduced to a whimpering wreck, that's not an exaggeration, I promise. ...more
Gone is one of those books that had been sitting on my bookshelf for months, gathering dust, being sadly ignored. I'd picked it up a few times, read tGone is one of those books that had been sitting on my bookshelf for months, gathering dust, being sadly ignored. I'd picked it up a few times, read the first few pages, been mildly impressed but then moved on to something else.
Eventually I realised I had to just sit down and get going with it. I'd read so many positive reviews of the series that I felt I was missing out but whenever I tried I just couldn't get into it. I nearly gave up but after being struck down with food poisoning this week (never reheat out of date salmon) I spent the last two bedridden days with my head buried in Gone. Finally.
It's a brilliant book, it really is and deserves all the praise it's received. I was worried it would be another overhyped supernatural teen book but Gone is worlds away from that. Grant's writing is superb - he doesn't get bogged down with complex sentence structure and hyperbolic waves of description. Instead the language is snappy, straight to the point and does nothing to detract from the stellar plot.
One of the most interesting things Grant tackles is how each character handles the situation. The kids in Gone (none older than 14) are thrust into a completely alien situation that really does bring out the best and worst in each person. Some shine through as absolute stars (I'm looking at you Mother Mary) and some take advantage of the situation and become the bad guys, the criminals, the killers (yes, Orc and co., that was aimed at you).
There are books where the writing is what sucks you in and books where it's the plot that captures your attention. In Gone it's definitely the plot. It's so strong, so well researched and there's not a plot hole in sight (from what I could see, anyway). The characters are instantly likeable (who doesn't have a soft spot for Edilio and MacDonald's Alfred? Oh, and Computer Jack and Mary - see, they're all awesome) and the villains are fantastic. So hateable, so corrupt but with so much depth. I couldn't help but feel a twinge of affection for Diana and Caine but the true villain in Gone is the twisted, psychopath Drake. Terrifying.
Talking coyotes, flying snakes, some horrific monster in a mine shaft - this is a novel that requires you to suspend your disbelief somewhat and any trace of bad writing could easily break the spell and make you realise that Gone is completely implausible and you are just sitting at home reading a book. However, I was there with Sam, Astrid and co. through thick and thin, through all the twists and turns and, after taking a few hours to digest this wonderful book, I'm ready to tackle the next in the series, Hunger. ...more
**spoiler alert** Well, there sure are a lot of reviews out there about Thirteen Reasons Why and most are positive, very positive in fact. Thirteen Re**spoiler alert** Well, there sure are a lot of reviews out there about Thirteen Reasons Why and most are positive, very positive in fact. Thirteen Reasons Why is a fascinating story about a young girl, Hannah, who commits suicide and leaves behind a box of cassette tapes that she recorded the week before, detailing each of the thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life.
Through the tapes we learn a great deal about Hannah’s life and classmates and each tape helps weave together the story and how each of the characters is connected. The thirteen people featured pop up in various other tapes and it’s so interesting how Asher manages to fit the story together seamlessly. It didn’t feel like any stories were forced and the writing is excellent, both Hannah’s point of view and Clay’s.
Clay is a likeable character and I genuinely felt for him as he waited for his tape to come up – wondering what on earth he could have done to cause his crush to want to end her life. The regret he feels for never acting on his emotions for Hannah really got to me and I did feel myself welling up on a few occasions (so this book does pass the Tear Test for making me cry – maybe I’ll add that into my reviews from now on).
Another thing I enjoyed was that we knew just as little as Clay did and learned everything at the same time as him, which kept the pace up throughout the novel. There’s a great sense of immediacy which made the book feel a lot shorter than it was – I finished it in under an hour.
Firstly, my main problem with Thirteen Reasons Why are the reasons themselves. When I first started reading the book I thought Hannah’s reasons for suicide would be dark, devastating and completely traumatic – because surely it has to be bad to consider suicide, right?
Well, apparently not. Apparently having your ass squeezed is reason enough! (Spoiler back there – sorry.) Personally I can’t sympathise with a character who thinks these little traumas that make up teenage life are worth ending your life over (because most of what happens within Thirteen Reasons Why your average teenager has had to deal with one time or another).
Plus, what she does through the tapes is extremely vindictive and it’s almost as though she’s using her death to get revenge on those she disliked while she was alive. It just didn’t sit very well with me....more
The re-imagining of fairy tales has become increasingly popular in recent years and Margo Lanagan’s newest offering is the latest novel to attempt thiThe re-imagining of fairy tales has become increasingly popular in recent years and Margo Lanagan’s newest offering is the latest novel to attempt this difficult feat. Tender Morsels is the story of Liga, who raises her two daughters in an alternate reality, keeping them safe from greed, hate and (most importantly) bad men. However, when her inquisitive daughter, Urdda, steps across the barrier between the two worlds, Liga finds that her heaven is shattered and realises that sooner or later she must face her fears.
When I picked up Tender Morsels the first thing that struck me was the cover art. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I know it’s wrong but I really do judge a book by its cover and Tender Morsels has one of the most interesting covers I’ve seen in a long time. Like some twisted version of Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, the cover really sets the tone of the book, which flicks from beauty to horror seamlessly.
However, after a look inside the cover it became clear that Tender Morsels is not your ordinary fantasy novel. ‘Not suitable for younger readers’ was printed boldly underneath the blurb, which itself states that the book is ‘sure to shock and amaze…Tender Morsels will take you to the very edge’.
Usually I disagree with content warnings and censorship but, for once, I think this one is deserved. Margo Lanagan deals with very adult sexual issues that are definitely not suitable for younger readers. That said, the controversial content didn’t detract from the plot and, even though some scenes were quite explicit, they were extremely well written.
My only issue with the novel was the language Lanagan uses, which took me a while to get used to. The dialogue is full of colloquialisms and syntax that didn’t feel natural to me, so for the first few chapters I had to concentrate so hard on what the characters were saying that it interrupted the flow of the story. Although, I did grow accustomed to the speech and, by the end of the novel, I didn’t give it a second thought.
Tender Morsels is a truly unique book, like nothing I’ve ever come across before. It is full of a host of utterly charming characters and I dare anybody to read it and not fall in love with Lanagan’s brilliantly crafted story....more