'You're the meanest of all! You're the one who drugged me!'
I almost wish I didn't "have" to write this review, because, though this is a flawed book,'You're the meanest of all! You're the one who drugged me!'
I almost wish I didn't "have" to write this review, because, though this is a flawed book, it's a book that gave me one of the best reading experiences I've had: a thrilling, searing and disturbing little novel that totally hooked me.
Okay, so I admit, I came to this novel slightly prejudiced. I have grown to absolutely hate the narrative choice of constructing the entire plot around one secret that the protagonist refuses to divulge. Charm & Strange is an incredibly well-written variant on this plot, but it couldn't quite make me overcome my hatred of this deliberately elliptical way of pretending at discussing an issue without discussing it. However, due to Kuehn's incredibly readable "psychological study" of her main characters, this cosiness was, thankfully, almost entirely removed.
Still, I wish that Win's big secret had come out a little sooner, because I wanted more. I wanted more of Win's realisations, Win's family - especially his older brother, Keith, who was probably my favourite character in the novel, and his and Drew's dynamic was the undoubted highlight - and the impact of what had actually happened, rather than Kuehn's intriguing and well written but ultimately frustrating writing around these subjects. I enjoyed her crafty and incredibly disciplined tactic of peeling away layers of Win's psyche, but there was a point when it just wasn't enough for me and I wanted more clarity.
As a result, I just COULDN'T get hooked to the present ("matter") sections. I found that I was skimming them without intending to, in an attempt to get back to Win's claustrophobic childhood summer at a house in New Hampshire with his large and eerie family. None of the present characters had the emotional pull for me that young Drew (Win's past alter ego) or Keith, Drew's tragic elder brother (who I loved so much that I actually feel like crying when I think a bit about what a book from his perspective would have looked like, I mean, god damn). Because of the tragedy of the "antimatter" sections, the "matter" sections felt like a nowhere near as interesting counterpoint to me.
Yet, reading Charm & Strange was a little like having a hole burned in my heart. I wanted to save Drew, and Keith, and Win (Win and Drew are different people - kind of) and I just felt so sad for everybody. The sense of sadness, guilt and intensity that Kuehn projects throughout the novel is unforgettable and incredibly painful. No, it's not without its flaws (to me), but there's no denying that this one promising debut....more
There is nothing remotely enjoyable about "Dark Places" and still I loved it.
Gillian Flynn really must keep writing, in the words of Camille from "ShaThere is nothing remotely enjoyable about "Dark Places" and still I loved it.
Gillian Flynn really must keep writing, in the words of Camille from "Sharp Objects", "until [she] can count on her last days on one hand", because crime fiction is a lonely place for a feminist with a potent hatred of cliché, and she is a dark shining light.
Let's start with Libby Day. Oh, God, how I loved Libby Day. Gillian Flynn takes hold of the "surviving female victim" trope and makes it into something dark, utterly realistic and yet original. Libby is a victim, and we don't need to talk about whether the novel or the author defines her as such, because Libby defines herself as such. Flynn does not shy away from the fact that Libby has lived through a truly horrendous event, but she doesn't ever make it look pretty or glamorous. Libby is totally selfish and broken and, no, there's nothing sexy about that. Libby is not the strong and feisty female survivor, nor is she the fawning Mary-Sue. She's a weak and depressed kleptomaniac, lazy and childlike, who falls back on her reliable victim status as a way to cover up for her total inability to do anything. She threads the narrative with dark humour that I relished - she complains that, if another girl hadn't had her face burned off in a fire that killed her entire family, she might have been able to live off the sympathy money a little longer, because she'd have more. She plays on her victim status whenever she gets mocked or called out (because "nobody laughs at a victim.") She insists that, at the creepy crime fare she attends, she wanted her family to have the biggest gore booth because "my dead people were the best."
And yet Libby is wonderful, too. She's flawed, yes, but it really was Libby who kept pulling me back into the narrative. She’s darkly comic and totally realistic. Her arc is palpable and great, a woman who patches herself together and gets there in the end, slowly and painfully but with a kind of grim determination you wouldn’t expect from a woman who, by her own admission, has no stamina. She's my favourite kind of heroine, and I won't forget her.
The pain in "Dark Places" is real. That's what killed me. Everybody hurts, really hurts, and I hurt with them. Patty's woes over losing the farm, Libby's kleptomania, Ben's desperation to "be a man" when he's not even old enough to know what that is. Reading this is like being trapped in a slow-closing vice. It just squeezes tighter and tighter and tighter and then it begins to hurt and it hurts more and more and more but still it won't stop. I couldn't stop reading this and, just as I did with "Sharp Objects", I marvelled at the intensity and the joy of Gillian Flynn's talent. It’s all in the writing. Even after "Sharp Objects", I underestimated this in a stupid way, because I didn't think it was possible for Flynn to hit me so hard in the core again. She did. I felt so bad for Patty, going to be dead by the end of the day and STILL trying to do the right thing, STILL trapped in a situation that seems utterly hopeless and trying to find something to do about it when we know nothing will change the fact of her death and, perhaps even sadder, Libby’s total abandonment.
Again, though, the surprising highlight of "Dark Places" is the minor characters that flit as shadows around the corners of the dark dirty backwater they all inhabit. A minor character who had a far larger impact on me than I was expecting would be Krissi Cates, the young girl who grows into a washed-up stripper, who accuses Ben of child molestation in 1975 and gets tracked down by Libby in the present day.
She's lying - that is obvious immediately - but she gets both a raw, honest and sympathetic portrayal from Flynn. In the 1980s, she's an attention-seeking little brat, but Flynn gives a very realistic and harrowing look at the Satanic panic of the ‘80s, where "well-meaning" parents and shrinks manipulate (consciously or not) their children into accusing innocent people. Krissi's description of how/why they did it and the eventual karmic retribution on her and her family is deeply moving. It might have been fun – “like a sleepover” – but Krissi gets what she deserves in the end. That’s without even going into Crystal or the mysterious man in the cowboy hat and his scary, spine-chilling section towards the end.
But I can’t give it five stars because, frankly, I thought it totally failed as a mystery.
Not that I guessed it. Though I did, and I’ve honestly never felt so bad about foreseeing a plot development! I just was like, oh, I’m so sorry, you tried so hard, you did everything right, and then I came in and guessed what was going to happen before it did using totally ridiculous methods and thought patterns…(view spoiler)[it was because I guessed that Patty was probably involved in her family’s demise, because I know how fond Gillian Flynn is of the maternal characters who are not just bad mothers but profoundly horrible people (though Patty is not horrible, and her wish that she could take it back as she died almost made me cry). With this in mind, I picked up quickly on that mentioned-and-then-dropped Angel of Debt, and boom! The mystery came together. (hide spoiler)]
The plotting of this book is, let’s face it, not good. It kills me to say it because I LOVED Gillian Flynn’s knotty, dark, literary writing. I really loved it! But in the plotting area – let’s be generous and say that it was lacking. It was just so contrived, so much, especially when you remember that the 1980s segment takes place in a SINGLE DAY. I’ll give this to Gillian Flynn – she did capture the element of feeling that your whole life was going to shit in a very short space of time, the intensity of being trapped and wanting to get out and not knowing how. It kind of works when you are swept up in the pace of the novel (despite it not being brisk exactly), but the second I started reflecting on it, the whole thing pretty much disintegrated in front of me. It felt almost like Flynn was writing without an outline and, so, when it came to the part in the 1980s segment when she had to stop building the blocks up and start knocking them down, she just went back and ‘patched up’ the plot strands.
I know it’s a feature of Flynn’s grim Southern world that everything that does go bad will, and there will be nobody to help you when it does. But let me break down how she ‘explains’ the fact (red herring) of Ben being accused of Satanism and child molestation:
Exhibit #1: Ben has a minor ‘relationship’ with Krissi Cates, a grade-school girl, which is obviously him trying to be nice and her misinterpreting it through her crush. He even, at one point, gets an erection in front of her grade-school desk. Explanation: Ben was just being a good brother, wandering through his sisters’ school on impulse to see if they were okay, and then started thinking about his slutty and pretty nasty girlfriend Diondra while on his little trip. This brings out the erection, at which point he runs into his teacher (well, everything that does go bad will, right, Gillian?) AT WHICH POINT he turns around and happens to see that the desk he’s in front of belongs to (DUN DUN DUN!) Krissi Cates.
This bugged me because to me it’s so contrived. Okay, so a teacher meeting up with you while you’re trying to deal with, ahem, a situation? Awwwwkward. But it could happen to anyone (well, not me, I’m a girl, lucky me). A teacher then finding you with an erection in front of a grade-school girl’s desk? Which you just happened to wander to, apropos of nothing, even though you know she already has a crush on you and she’s already (unknown to you) accused you of Satanic child molestation? Um…
Exhibit #2: Ben makes jokes about Satanism on the day he ‘kills’ his family. (view spoiler)[Oh, no, you really must understand, Ben was just trying to impress these guys (hide spoiler)]…how? For what reason? It’s never that well-explained and it just seems like Flynn knows she has to connect another dot here.
Exhibit #3: BEN MAKES RITUAL ANIMAL SACRIFICES! Well, I can’t wait to see how Flynn gets Ben out of this one (if she indeed does): (view spoiler)[she indeed does. Oh, no, you really must understand – sure, Ben was there, but not only was he totally pushed into it by his psycho girlfriend (what a bitch!) but he didn’t want to do it in the first place and felt totally scared and creeped out by the whole thing even though, yes, he was on drugs at the time! But you must understand, reader, he didn't mean anything by it! (hide spoiler)]
(Huge spoiler follows) That's without even getting int the (view spoiler)[fact that Diondra murdered Michelle THE VERY SAME NIGHT that Patsy, in a totally disconnected series of events, decided to kill herself through the Angel of Debt so that her children could have the life insurance money). (hide spoiler)]
Yeah, these things didn’t sit right with me. They didn't feel like you wanted to zip through the pages and shut Ben up. No, I was just beginning to wonder if I believed in the Devil (I don't), because he clearly had it in for Ben if he did. Ben seemed almost like a character in a – but still, Dark Places is highly recommended. Though only for a day when you are feeling particularly happy. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
There are a lot of things to love about Shirley Marr's "Fury", but top of the list has to be, in my mind -- guts.
Not just because "Fury" is edgy. It iThere are a lot of things to love about Shirley Marr's "Fury", but top of the list has to be, in my mind -- guts.
Not just because "Fury" is edgy. It is, but when I say 'guts', there's more to it than just the dark, nasty undercurrent than runs under the twisty, lovely plotting and sucker-punch scenes.
But, when I say guts, I'm talking mostly about the characters. One character is top of that list, Eliza Boans, the fierce and fantastic heroine of "Fury." I always find it hard when authors try to portray strength; most of them use more telling than showing. It's really not easy to do, but Marr makes it look so, so easy.
That's the thing that there is to love most about Eliza: her guts. (I know, how many times can I use that word in this sentence? We should play a drinking game.) I almost wrote 'courage' or just 'strength', but there is much more to Eliza than just 'courage.' Eliza is a fearless yet terrified main character that I just love for how much goddamn fight she has in her. This is one of those books that really earned its title (unlike a certain other book with this name...) in that, yes, I felt the fury. It coursed through every page of the story, really propelling the acts forwards. It almost seemed to bleed from the book. It almost feels too easy to dismiss Eliza as One Angry Girl, because, no, fury forced most of this story forwards in the most terrifying train-crash way, and I loved every word of it.
Remember my rant about the other Fury, about how it was everything to despise in YA literature as it was a shallow, underdeveloped, unlikeable and paper-thin story based on an interesting premise?
This "Fury" is nothing like that. What I love most about "Fury" is that it treats its audience with respect and depth. "Fury" is chock-full of enjoyable references, from Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, mythology (especially Greek mythology) and tragedy. It's so fresh and clever, but never overly clever or pretentious. Just as I was rolling my eyes, thinking, "Oh my God, poor little Eliza, suffering through her rich white girl life in uber-luxurious Australia", she would turn around and dose me with her own acidic wit and I would feel stumped again. Shirley Marr knows all the tricks.
*coughs* *clears throat* (Excuse me. This reviewer is engaging rabid feminist mode. She will return to normal in several lines.)
And, yes, something else to love about "Fury": it's about feminism. Not in the big, important, chest-bashing Margaret Atwood way, but in a way that really cut into me as a reader. It's about what it's like to be a friend and a young woman in this crapsaccharine Australian furniture store, when you get rid of all the petty rivalry and bullshit, Eliza tells us this without ever sugar coating or overstating it. I can see you all giving me squinty eyes - sure, murder, selfishness, narcissism, designer labels and mean girls, Beth, it sounds sooooooo feminist. But there is a satirical beauty to how Marr deals with what might seem like a hackneyed plot. Do not underestimate Eliza Boans. Or more to the point: underestimate Eliza Boans at your peril. The eventual murder scene is one of the best scenes I've ever read, simply for the pure, unadulterated and stomach-churning viciousness that underlines it all. All these mean girls have deep and dark and real friendships, and there is a black heart that throbs at the centre of "Fury."
But mostly important, just in case I've made this book sound so dry and ohmygodwon'tyoujustshutupaboutsociologyalready? - it's incredibly fun. Reading "Fury" made me feel like a lot of YA has been hampered by clichés and expectations and won't somebody think of the children?!. It's just off the hook, with originality, wit and wildness, brilliant mythology gags (like such outlandish but somehow-it-works scene where the characters don masks, old-fashioned dresses and make like the original Furies) and a glittery surface of dresses, money and ass-kicking that gives the seriousness of the themes real fun and freshness. Particularly the amazing ending, which made Eliza's kickass mother sharpen into focus as one of my favourite secondary characters ever and their final scene together was just amazing. I particularly liked the idea that true judgement had perhaps even eluded the characters. "Fury" isn't about learning a lesson. It's about the emotion that gives the book its title - and everything else is up to the characters. ...more
Sorry, maybe that sounds fluffy and pretentious and vague. Because "Cannery Row" is n4.5 stars, oh so close to the magic 5
"Cannery Row" is about life.
Sorry, maybe that sounds fluffy and pretentious and vague. Because "Cannery Row" is none of those things. It's a beautiful, fluid novel about the life of minor characters in an area of California called Cannery Row. That's it. It's more like a series of vignettes than a story, but it was oh so heartbreaking. I could feel my heartstrings being tugged. Yet - it didn't feel like Steinbeck was trying to make me cry. (Though he almost made me. Several times.) There is something about Steinbeck's prose that just gets to me. He manages to perfectly balance larger observations about the movement of life - particularly in the beautiful prologue and the odd paragraphs where the tense shifts from past to present. Steinbeck has a wonderful prose style - a mixture of literary yet simple and direct that just affects me. Particularly the story about Frankie. While Steinbeck's prose is gentle and euphonic, almost mirroring the slow movement of life, he has a very stripped-down style that just hits me right there. "There was nothing he could do." Yet there is also long, ornate passages such as this one -
"[Cannery Row's] inhabitants are, as the man once said, 'whores, pimps, gamblers, and sons of bitches,' by which he meant Everybody. Had the man looked through another peephole he might have said, 'saints and angels and martyrs and holy men,' and he would have meant the same thing.”
Also, the juxtaposition between what Steinbeck tells us and what he doesn't is amazing. For example, at the end, he never tells us that Doc is crying. Doc just wipes his eyes with the back of his hand, and we know. That is what I love about Steinbeck - the trust he places in his audience. He isn't like some of other 'great' Literary-with-a-capital-L writing, like Vladimir Nabokov, who puts great Intellectual trust in their readers, knowledge to know French and obscure literary and movie references. But he puts trust in them (us) all the same: he trusts us to know these characters, to understand what they're feeling, and recognise it. I just loved that. But more than anything, there was a real sense of life in this book. Particularly the beautiful paragraph where Mack and the boys plunge into the pond in search of frogs, and the frogs all run out of the pond in a desperate attempt to escape. Maybe you won't believe me, but there is incredible comedy and pathos in that one paragraph. Such as in the last line of the book, where Steinbeck takes us down Cannery Row to the animals that sleep around them. Steinbeck infuses his animal characters, like Darling, with a comic life that makes them feel just as real as the human characcters. Just as much as the humans that populate it, Cannery Row feels like a living place. Steinbeck says of Doc that "his mind had no horizon", and that is what I think of when I think of Steinbeck.
Actually, no, I'm sorry. "Cannery Row" isn't about life. It's about living. Highly recommended....more
Just lovely. Wilde is obviously the master of quotable awesomeness, with such lines as:
"I will wait for you all my life, if you are not too l4.5 stars
Just lovely. Wilde is obviously the master of quotable awesomeness, with such lines as:
"I will wait for you all my life, if you are not too long."
“To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness.”
“In matters of grave importance, style, not sincerity, is the vital thing.”
The Importance of Being Earnest is mad. It is a truly effervescent play -- full of life and craziness and misunderstandings and one hundred and eighty degree turns. Everything I would criticise as trite, illogical and convenient if that weren't the whole point. The Importance of Being Earnest is a long, glorious joke. Except that it isn't. Amidst all the amazingly clever wordplay, outlandish scenes and scenarios, there is a fantastic satire of Victorian society. Comedy and satire are hard to get right -- I never think that Ben Elton gets the correct balance, for example -- but Wilde intertwines the two. Satire in modern literature seems too didactic, but WIlde avoids this altogether by interlocking comedy and satire until they are indistinguishable. The madness and absurdity of it all is the satire, and it's unbelievably enjoyable....more
As Bindy would say, I devoured this book. It's long, but I actually ripped through it. And I loved it. I want to give this book to the people4.5 stars
As Bindy would say, I devoured this book. It's long, but I actually ripped through it. And I loved it. I want to give this book to the people who treat YA as some kind of bastard genre -- I've been wrestling with On The Road for weeks. I zipped through this in one night.
Jaclyn Moriarty - you are one clever bitch (that's supposed to be a term of endearment). Bindy Mackenzie compelled me all the way. Until the last 70ish pages, it remains a fairly typical (but still very good!) high-school read about finding yourself and maybe toning down your more obnoxious features. What I loved about this book was that it didn't perpetuate the negative you-must-change-everything-about-yourself-to-get-what-you-want message, but it was realistic about Bindy's flawed, unlikeable but oddly endearing personality: it didn't make her (m)any friends. However, I can't help but compare this to Finding Cassie Crazy, and I preferred the latter in many ways.
But why didn't this earn the full five stars? The writing is funny, excellent, speedy and surprisingly subtle for what initially appears to be quite an unsubtle book. It's a winner in the writing stakes -- but it wasn't an all-out winner for me until the last section. I know that Jaclyn Moriarty doesn't redo this until Dreaming of Amelia, but I miss her multiple narrators, especially her boys! My favourite parts were those that dealt with other narrators. It's not that I didn't enjoy Bindy immensely, I did, but this is a case of Moriarty's greatest strength being one of her few weaknesses (did that sound pretentious enough? :D): Bindy is such a full-on narrator, so idiosyncratic and relentless, and that is very enjoyable, but such an extreme personality. Besides, I still have huge crushes on all the boys (except Matthew Dunlop, you nasty scumbug!) from Finding Cassie Crazy. I couldn't quite get there with Finnegan A. Blonde, and I wanted to. I just found myself occasionally tiring of Bindy going around in circles for portions of the plot.
Moriarty does a simply superb job of balancing Bindy's flaws (numerous!) with her..."inner vulnerability" is such a cliche, but there's no better way to describe Bindy. She denies all her weaknesses, pushing them down as far as she can, but no-one can deny that she's lonely. However, while Bindy is extremely endearing to the reader, Moriarty is also a great writer for showing us exactly why her classmates dislike her so much. While I was desperately flipping to the next page, I couldn't help saying to myself "would you want to be friends with Bindy Mackenzie?" The truth is, although we are similar in many ways, at the start of the book, I would not. This sounds like a criticism of Moriarty - it isn't. I have a special respect for authors who can make their first-person narrators very well-balanced. Bindy is.
The supporting cast is, for the most part, great. I loved meeting up with Emily again and getting updates on all the other Ashbury girls. However, contributing towards that half-star off perfect score, I couldn't feel for Astrid. Moriarty did her best, and Moriarty really is *the* best, but she couldn't make me feel for petty, shallow, mean Astrid. While I said above that I totally understood where the supporting characters were coming from with their disdain for Bindy, I felt that what Astrid did at Hill End, while not the worst thing ever, was a horrible thing to do. The effect it had on Bindy had me cringing for her. Although Moriarty tries to redeem Astrid, and it was only right because no-one is 100% cruel and unsympathetic, her idiosyncratic voice (although the "like you knows" did make me laugh) made it difficult for Moriarty to truly communicate Astrid's regret. It also slightly (only slightly) spoiled Emily for me, to think that she could be hanging around such a mean girl. However, the rest of the supporting characters are typically Moriarty endearing. Especially Sergio, and yes, Finnegan. While I couldn't have the same kind of emotional engagement with them that I felt with the Cassie guys, I still loved them.
Honestly, and trust me on this one, it's better if you go into the book knowing pretty much no more than what I've written up there. The less you know about the plotline I am going to discuss, the better it is. And it really is fantastic -- the sheer enjoyment and rollercoaster relish of it is one of my favourite reading feelings. While I'm not going to into specific plot details, I didn't see this change of pace coming, and it's better if you don't, either. This section of the book more than earned the half-star, but because of issues mentioned above, I can't really give this the perfect five. However, for those who have read it, have no intention of reading it or are one of those people who just have to look under spoiler tags (I sympathise):
(view spoiler)[the TWIST that this book takes in its latter half! Wow. The last section of the book was 5-star all the way with me, because it literally had me a) rocking backwards and forwards in fear for Bindy; b) gasping at the brilliance of every plot twist; c) panicking about what was going to happen next; d) going "JACLYN MORIARTY I WANT TO DANCE AROUND IN YOUR BRAIN FOR YOUR INTELLIGENCE/BRILLIANCE/WRITING TALENT." When Bindy was writing the letter to Finnegan, I was screaming for her. When the other FAD members took over, I was cheering for them. It was just...despite the audacity, despite the plot twists, despite the larger and life characters...it was so real to me. The supporting cast really came into their own (save for Astrid), and I LOVED it when Sergio *climbed the school* to try and save Bindy. It was amazing, unpredictable and a true rollercoaster ride. (hide spoiler)]
I want to be like Jaclyn Moriarty when I grow up. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Few books have left me feeling quite so divided as "Violence 101." For the first 100ish pages of this short,First 3/4: 4.5-5 stars Last 1/4: 3.5 stars
Few books have left me feeling quite so divided as "Violence 101." For the first 100ish pages of this short, gripping novel, I was sucked in by Hamish Graham's chilly, compelling and utterly unique voice. I would still urge anyone who loves their YA with a little edge or spice to read this, because it's a magical book about a teenage sociopath. Hamish is no abused boy from a broken home: he's simply a super smart boy from a good, middle-class home who does very violent things for what are utterly logical, reasonable and terrifying reasons. He is unclouded by emotion or doubt; he's one of those very frightening characters who wouldn't cut someone open because they got off on it, but just to see what would happen. Hamish's deeds, horrific though they are, are given a simply brilliant spin by Wright. Hamish is unapologetic, brutal and I just loved it. I'd also be lying if I said a little part of me didn't love Hamish, too. This is simply a writer and reader's joy to read: a triumph of dark imagination, a perfectly-realised, realistic and gripping voice. There is a certain grim fascination to be had with Hamish's violent behaviour, too. They are incredibly creative and very darkly funny. I found myself laughing out loud at certain parts, and then flipping the pages, wide-eyed and horrified.
But that hits on what is good about "Violence 101": the character study. I love wild twists and turns, but when Hamish ran away from the New Horizons institution (where he is being kept for his brutal crimes), it is interestingly unrestrained by the rules that might keep other YA writers, but it loses focus on the most fascinating aspect of the novel - Hamish - and, despite his momentous development near the end, it all feels a little half-baked and glossed over and, yep, even though Hamish spells out for us that this is not a neat-bow ending, it still feels a little easy. There is a lack of direct dialogue between Hamish and an important character, Trev; while I generally thought the first- and third-person POVs were excellently balanced, creating a really superb ambiguity for the first half of the book (is Hamish really manipulating everyone? Could he even be manipulating the audience? dun dun dun), in the second half of the novel, third-person POV becomes too dominant, which causes Hamish's epiphanies to feel forced and sudden. Also, what dialogue there is feels stagey and unrealistic, especially between the fitness teacher and Victor. There is also a lack of any kind of description or scene-setting, which makes the sudden change in tone even more jarring.
However, this is a brilliant YA book, full of dark humour and with one of the best main characters I've ever read, behind which a black heart beats occasionally. ...more