I, of course, started reading this book at night. Being the fearless reader that I am, I shrugged my shoulders and went to bed afterwards with only one glance inside the closet just to be sure it was empty. Okay, maybe two glances. The real challenge came in the middle of the night when I needed a glass of water. I must have turned on every single light in the house on my trip downstairs. It was almost as if I could hear the same creaking in the walls. Almost as if the tree branches outside the window had taken on a humanoid shape.
This book is one of the few truly scary books I have read. It has a lot of classic horror elements - woods, old houses, dolls, the occasional mirror - but the story turned out to be far better than I expected. It kept me guessing right up until the very end.
It opens with a short prologue, followed by Silla and Nori's arrival at their aunt Cath's manor house - a house that has been in the family for generations. Gradually, we will learn why they are there and what they have come from, as well as what happened to Cath and their mother all those years ago. This unfolds in torn journal entries and notes alongside the present story of their time inside the house - Cath's insanity, the girls' hunger, the creeping woods, and the strange boy who seemingly appears from nowhere. Silla must work out what is happening and protect her mute sister from the house's many demons.
There is an increasing feeling of hysteria and panic as we try to pull apart the weirdness and work out whether the woods really are moving towards the house, or whether Silla's unreliable narrative is becoming increasingly influenced by madness. Is the Creeper Man real? Or is he the invention of children's minds?
I'll be honest: the book gets very strange before it eventually makes sense. But I promise that it does make sense in the end. The frightening, confusing sequence of events leading up to the final revelation will probably disorientate you and have you thinking "what the hell is going on?" but it somehow works.
The author creates a claustrophobic world where horror is impossible to escape because it exists at every turn. In the woods outside the house, in the dark corners of the house itself, even in Silla and Nori.
I get why people like the LGBT coming-of-age story, but the artwork was really bad. I couldn't get past it. Another reviewer said they were surprisedI get why people like the LGBT coming-of-age story, but the artwork was really bad. I couldn't get past it. Another reviewer said they were surprised it was still readable despite the author's inability to draw - honestly, for me, it wasn't.
“Maybe no boy will love me or want to touch me ever, even in a dark room, even after an apocalypse when all the skinny girls have been wiped off the
“Maybe no boy will love me or want to touch me ever, even in a dark room, even after an apocalypse when all the skinny girls have been wiped off the earth by some horrible plague. Maybe one day I can be thinner than I am now and have a boyfriend who loves me, but I’ll still be a liar.”
I was going to give this book two stars because, honestly, it started well. It was compelling and didn't seem as offensive as the blurb had been, but the more I think about it, the more that doesn't seem to be enough of an excuse for the book as a whole. Yet another book that insensitively uses its characters to create an angsty romance.
If anything, I feel more secure in my assessment of All the Bright Places after reading this book. I got the impression in AtBP that the author was using suicide as a vehicle for romantic angst, and I received a lot of backlash for writing that review. But this just seems to confirm it. I feel like Niven has given very little thought to what it means to portray an obese character and a character with a cognitive disorder. I feel like little thought has been given to any readers who might relate to these characters. I can't help but imagine the author sitting there and simply thinking “how can I make this romance super angsty?"
I don't necessarily care that Libby Strout (Libby as in "Lb" and Strout as in "Stout"?!) was called "America's Fattest Teen" or that a major plot point is a game called "Fat Girl Rodeo". These things are gross and offensive, but showing the horrible effects of labels and cruel bullying does not seem like a bad thing to me. No, the bigger problem is that this book actually isn't about bullying, or fat-shaming, or living with mental illness, it's about high school love. That's it. The rest is just window dressing.
The author throws together two teens who are solely characterized by their weight and prosopagnosia (the inability to recognize faces) and, despite having zero chemistry, they fall in lurrrve. They are defined by these singular differences - i.e. being the "fat girl" and being unable to recognize anyone, never once feeling like human beings.
I'm sure some readers will see the decision to have such different protagonists as an indication of depth, but I truly feel like this is a very shallow book. Stereotypes and cliches abound. Dress it up however you want, but this book is about an unpopular girl who sees herself as unattractive, and a popular good-looking guy who comes to see how said girl is so much better than all those hot, evil cheerleaders he's been dating. His hot, evil girlfriend constantly fat-shames and bullies Libby, obviously, because we all know pretty popular girls are mean, shallow and have no feelings.
Also - and this is way more offensive to me than the blurb was - Libby's journey to self-love seems to entirely revolve around finding a guy who will actually like her. I was hoping this would be addressed as the novel wore on, but the small rushed steps toward it at the end were dissatisfying.
“Somewhere in this school could be a boy I fall in love with. One of these fine young men might be the one who at long last claims my heart and my body. I’m looking at all the boys going by. It could be that guy or maybe this one."
Or she could learn to love herself without a guy? Also, what teenager says "fine young men"?
The pacing also slows down as the story moves forward. I remember feeling at one point like the book should be coming to an end, and yet there were almost another hundred pages to go. You knew the characters had feelings for one another, you knew they were going to end up together, but the narrative was dawdling.
Then there's my disbelief that Jack has managed to hide face-blindness from his family for years. That seems impossible to me, but I guess this book never was about the reality of the issues it offered up.
And, finally, nauseating prose like this:
The way I feel when I’m with her. Like I just swallowed the sun and it’s shooting out of every pore.
And Libby's eyes...
They are like lying in the grass under the sky on a summer day. You’re blinded by the sun, but you can feel the ground beneath you, so as much as you think you could go flying off, you know you won’t.
There's not a single guy in the world who could tell me I make them feel like they "swallowed the sun and it's shooting out of every pore" without me bursting into hysterical laughter. But, let's be honest, that's the least of this book's problems.
Wow, this book has got some serious hate and advance copies haven't even been released. So many 1 star reviews, claims ofHey! Let's talk about this.
Wow, this book has got some serious hate and advance copies haven't even been released. So many 1 star reviews, claims of racism and Islamophobia, and "fuck yous" to the author. I'd like to have a conversation about it, but first: no racist, Islamophobic (sexist, homophobic, transphobic, etc.) comments. Try it and you will be blocked.
Personally, the most offensive thing I've seen so far is the cover and they need to give that shit a makeover - put his face in shadow all you like, that is a WHITE BOY.
Otherwise, I don't really see the problem in looking at tough and timely subjects. Both the current blurb and the old one seem to suggest that racial bullying and discrimination within America cause the rise of radicalism and, as a result, terrorism. It seems like a way of showing white Americans how their animosity breeds animosity in return. The new blurb even states that Khalil's radical ideas are not in line with the Islamic faith, separating Islam and terrorism in a way so many fail to do. Are these bad messages? To me, they seem like important ones.
So, talk to me about this? I promise I'm not just enjoying the sound of my own keyboard clicks as I tap out my white privilege; let's discuss it. What do you think? Does it come across as racism/Islamophobia to you - why/why not? Is it just poor timing? Is this a subject that shouldn't be handled by a white, non-Muslim author? ...more
Confession time: I'm partial to the occasional trashy, chick-lit novel. You know the ones I mean. Those meaningless dramas where everyone sleeps withConfession time: I'm partial to the occasional trashy, chick-lit novel. You know the ones I mean. Those meaningless dramas where everyone sleeps with everyone and everyone betrays everyone and you are not required to think too hard. So when people were calling this a "futuristic Gossip Girl", that honestly didn't bother me. GG is an old guilty pleasure. Also, Chuck + Blair 4ever.
On the other end of the call was Atlas, her brother - and the reason she never wanted to kiss anyone else.
I don't care that he's technically her step-brother; my issue with incest extends way beyond genetic factors. I don't mind when it appears to show abuse or is portrayed negatively, but I got the distinct impression that it's actually supposed to be sexy in this book. And I'm sorry, but I don't buy into the "consenting adults" argument for incest, or the comparisons with homosexuality. As Saletan's Slate article says:
Homosexuality is an orientation. Incest isn't. If the law bans gay sex, a lesbian can't have a sex life. But if you're hot for your sister, and the law says you can't sleep with her, you have billions of other options. Get out of your house, for God's sake. You'll find somebody to love without incinerating your family.
It was a huge issue for me in a novel that could have easily been some mindless entertainment. McGee considers many different aspects of what the year 2118 might look like, from technology to global warming to designer babies. On top of that, it's a diverse book, as well as just a very interesting and rather... dazzling idea. Imagine a future where Manhattan literally becomes a vertical city in an enormous skyscraper; the extremely wealthy partying and getting high on the top floors.
But I just don't want to read about siblings making out. I read to the end to find out who falls from the tower in the prologue, but I seriously considered not finishing it the moment Avery and Atlas lock lips. There are a lot of characters in this novel, all being young, stupid and scandalous, and I honestly quite enjoyed reading about their superficial lives, but I won't be returning for the sequel. That kind of "romance" is just not my thing.