Laurence Roach is fifteen years old. His mother is an alcoholic, his six year old brother pretends to be a dog. Still, he gets through life. He is try...moreLaurence Roach is fifteen years old. His mother is an alcoholic, his six year old brother pretends to be a dog. Still, he gets through life. He is trying to win a holiday for his family on the radio, hoping it might bring a positive change to their rotten lives. And then his mother disappears, and Laurence finds himself struggling to pretend that everything is alright, scared that he and his brother would be sent into foster care.
This book deals with some serious issues, from neglect/abuse to alcoholism, depression and illness. The story definitely has tearjerk moments, but never becomes too sappy. Sometimes you don't understand why Laurence does something, until you remember: This is just a 15 year old boy trying to uphold life for himself and his little brother. Young, naive, yet old beyond his age, sometimes a bit rash, sometimes angry, sometimes sad, Laurence is always a protagonist you can get behind in a struggle that feels all too real. The other characters are just as lovable, consistent, real, and the plot might suspend disbelief sometimes, but never in a jarring way.
A delightful read, somehow lighthearted and pleasant despite the topic, touching, moving, thought-inspiring, a rare feat for a YA novel, and definitely not something to miss out on. (less)
Oh, where to even begin with this book. Let's start with how there is no remotely likeable character in this except for two side character whose appea...moreOh, where to even begin with this book. Let's start with how there is no remotely likeable character in this except for two side character whose appearances are extremely limited (Devon and Sophie). Let's continue with how the main character especially (Grace) is grating at the best of times. Let's then move on to how big, sensitive topics (teenage pregnancy, depression, self-mutilation, neglect, suicide) are treated as plot devices that have no impact expect to further the personal drama of the central characters. And let's end with how the big mysteries of the book are glaringly obvious long, very long, before they are "revealed" in the book.
I bought the book because I thought the prospect sounded like it could be exciting, with Grace waking up in a white room, imprisoned with a kidnapper who takes good care of her, but with nothing to do all day but write down her story. Except the author clearly had no idea how to use this device to narrate her story. Instead of a gripping, emotional tale I got poorly constructed teenage drama, and let's not even mention how we are supposed to believe we are reading what Grace "wrote down" when it reads more like her own inner narrative at the time things happened. Which would have worked much better than the whole "we read what she wrote down" thing when you can't suspend disbelief for more than half a dozen pages.
The story could have been beautiful and heartbreaking if it had been told differently. Cutting isn't treated as a real problem, but is once again just something a bored teenager with no real problems does to show how sensitive and emotional and troubled she is. Even when she really isn't. Pregnancy? Well, yeah, happens, but other than being a plot device to set up best friends and boyfriends acting shitty nothing comes of it anyway. Depression is apparently no real medical condition, it's just what happens when you fight with your best friend and your boyfriend is unhappy with you. I could go on, but I won't. This book isn't deep, mysterious, emotional, touching. It's just the typical teenage drama you can tune in to every night on every channel, with no originality or emotional impact whatsoever.(less)
I watched the movie before reading the book, and I will say upfront: I did not expect to enjoy this book so much.
The start is slow and somewhat clunk...moreI watched the movie before reading the book, and I will say upfront: I did not expect to enjoy this book so much.
The start is slow and somewhat clunky. The writing style definitely needs some getting used to. And I do have to point out that it takes too long with little actually happening (except for descriptions of clothes and food and showers) before you get to the Games.
However, the Games themselves, that's where the novel packs its punches. The games are exciting, gripping, vivid, scary, even sad and moving. Katniss as a main character excels here, a tough survivor but emotionally stunted, trying to survive in circumstances she was thrown in against her will and against her control. The relationship between Katniss and Peeta is bittersweet and fascinating to watch unfold as you try to puzzle out with Katniss what is real and what is just another layer of the Games. There are moments when the story drags, but the action and tension comes back quick enough for those drags never to become overwhelming. The ending wraps the story up nicely, but with a sense of doom as Katniss faces a future full of several unknowns, almost as terrifying as the horrors of the Games themselves.
I will see that I read the other two books once I get the chance, but the first one was definitely a pleasant surprise and a good read I would recommend.(less)