This book is almost impossible to rate. Take my 3 -star rating lightly, because it does not even begin to sum up everything I felt about this differenThis book is almost impossible to rate. Take my 3 -star rating lightly, because it does not even begin to sum up everything I felt about this different, imaginative, weird romance.
I call it a "romance" out of the human need to categorize, but it truly doesn't sit well in any genre. It has paranormal and sci-fi elements, as well as what feels like touches of magical realism - all blended together around a complex love story with diverse characters.
Let me emphasize that once more - The Love That Split the World is a book rich with diversity, feminism, sex-positivism and just good old beautiful writing. The author chooses her words carefully, painting a gorgeous and vivid picture of both the Kentucky setting and this delicate time in Natalie Cleary's life.
Brimming with Native American stories, culture and mythology, the book whizzes along with a magical energy. It is full of many short stories (and through them - life lessons) told by the mysterious "Grandmother" who sometimes visits Natalie at night.
Who is Grandmother? A Native American messenger? A religious apparition? Or merely a figment of Natalie's imagination? Only time will tell.
Natalie is a particularly likable and wise character; she is quick to point out slut-shaming and refuses to see her ex's new girlfriend as her enemy or, indeed, anything other than a human being. On top of this, her mental state plays a large part in this book, asking a question I have personally always loved - supernatural or psychological?
Fantasy and psychology live side by side here, prompting the reader to constantly wonder just what is real and what is imagined.
Given my 3-star rating, you've probably been waiting for it and here it is - the BUT. Well... this book might be a great many things, but it is first and foremost a romance and relies on your attachment to said romance to effectively tell the story. And it breaks my first two rules of writing romance novels.
1) Instalove. Like wow, bang, whoosh, I just met you and this is crazy, but let me talk about your beautiful eyelashes kind of instalove. Romances where emotions are plucked out of midair and built upon gorgeous looks just leave me feeling so cold.
2) You so pretty. Sentences that become paragraphs that become pages about how Beau is a physical work of art.
"His biceps are roughly the size of my head, and his eyes look like summer incarnate, and he has two little dark freckles on the side of his nose, and a mouth that somehow manages to look like a shy kid’s one minute and a virile Greek god’s the next.”
*snores* I just don't care that much about beautiful people. And I especially don't need to be reminded over and over again how good-looking they are.
If you can look past the instalove and eye roll-worthy romance moments, then this really is a beautiful book. Unfortunately, so much rests on the romance that it's quite hard to do.
Have you ever read a book and not realised you were expecting it to be bad until it’s actually pretty good and you’re surprised? That’s how I felt aboHave you ever read a book and not realised you were expecting it to be bad until it’s actually pretty good and you’re surprised? That’s how I felt about this.
There's been a lot of hype and starred reviews for Not If I See You First, but I think I had it in the back of my mind that it would be yet another The Fault in Our Stars-style book. I was subconsciously predicting that this would be to blindness what TFiOS was to cancer and All the Bright Places was to suicide. A contrived, forcefully-philosophical novel with characters that feel like incarnations of John Green.
But it was actually pretty damn good.
I'm seeing two main criticisms of this book floating around - one being that the romance is not that good, the other being that the main character is unlikable. Strangely, though, these are the two things I liked most about it.
I honestly really liked that Parker was quite unlikable, outspoken and selfish at times, in a way that I personally thought was realistic and relatable. How annoying it would have been if she had simply been portrayed as a one-dimensional blind girl who can do no wrong. Instead, she is given a layered personality, flaws, and a sharp tongue that made for some funny moments.
And most romance fans won't like this romance because it's just not that much of a romance. In The Fault in Our Stars, it is easy to distinguish the two main characters as Hazel and Gus. But this book's main characters are not simply a guy and a girl. In fact, Parker's girlfriends play a much bigger part in this story. For me, it was more about friendship than romance.
The romantic side is less about getting the two teens together, and more a lesson on growing up, changing and learning to listen. Or it was to me. Which is why I am one of the few people who liked the atypical ending.
Lots of diverse female friendship, low on the melodrama and philosophical messages, and nowhere near as neat and cute as I'd imagined it would be. If I were to issue one warning, it's that the book is a little quieter than many readers might like. But it was fun and insightful to read a book from such a different perspective, whilst also having the author treat Parker like a human being.
Your entire sense of self-worth is predicated upon your belief that you matter, that you matter to the universe. But you don't. Because we are the ants
Your entire sense of self-worth is predicated upon your belief that you matter, that you matter to the universe. But you don't. Because we are the ants.
My first 5 stars of 2016!
This book. Seriously. I hadn't read any of the author's other work. I wasn't even sure that the premise promised a book I would like. My curiosity was piqued when I saw the good critical reviews it was getting, but that has meant little in the past so I wasn't completely convinced...
But it was so damn good. The truth is, while I always wait for the end before deciding on a book rating, most of the time there's a little part of me that just knows near the beginning when I've picked up a 5-star book. It's a book that does something a bit different, and it has a pull you know will drag you through those pages.
Henry Denton's narrative is so compelling, nihilistic and hilarious. He's a smart, witty and very funny human being, prone to one tragic misfortune after another. The way he portrays and explores the world around him is excellent, showing us intricate family bonds, friendships, love and all the wonder and horror of the world we live in.
The book opens with Henry telling us about the aliens. The aliens who have abducted him several times, conducted experiments on him, and finally given him the ultimate choice. The world is going to end, but pushing a button will stop it - will Henry find reason to save the world?
In the wrong hands, it could have been unbearably cheesy, but the tone is just right. Dark, but often comical. Sad, but full of heart-warming moments too.
The description gives the impression that Henry meets Diego and his perspective on life changes, but it's far more complex than that. This book is not a romance, and so many characters have an important part to play in the telling of the story: Henry's ex-boyfriend who committed suicide, his alcoholic wannabe-chef mother, the popular boy who makes out with him one minute and bullies him the next, his grandmother with Alzheimer's, his college-dropout brother, as well as others.
All the characters are so well-developed, all are complex, none are throwaway. Hutchinson weaves relationships gradually, throughout the novel, showing all the layers that exist underneath the surface and - ultimately - showing that every person has more than one side, is more than one thing.
It's the kind of truly smart and insightful book that doesn't come along too often. And it left my mind spinning with thoughts long after I finished the last page.