In New Zealand slang, "box of birds" means you are feeling well and happy. It's an expression to answer the question "How are you?". After reading thi...moreIn New Zealand slang, "box of birds" means you are feeling well and happy. It's an expression to answer the question "How are you?". After reading this book, that expression is a bit ruined for me now!
The main character, Malorie, finds herself pregnant just as the world comes to an end. The end starts with mysterious acts of brutality and suicide becoming more and more common over the world. The one thing that links them is that people see something that turns them violently insane. The book covers two time periods, when Melorie enters a safe house set up for survivors, and 4 years later with two children "boy" and "girl", that she is caring for by herself. The premise is terrifying, and had me thinking of The Happening, The Others & the Dr Who episode Blink. Some aspects stretched my suspension of disbelief to breaking point, power is on, with the blasé explanation it's hydro so it works all the time, & telephones still work. Without power, it'd have made the world a lot harder to live in as they could never look outside, and inside had to be completely cut off with blankets on the windows (hello, did they not have curtains? Would blankets be much better then secure curtains?)
Well written and full of suspense, Box of birds is worth it if you overlook a few flaws. (less)
I recommend letting this story unfold for you without reading reviews. The pages whizzed by and I finished it in four days. I loved the main character...moreI recommend letting this story unfold for you without reading reviews. The pages whizzed by and I finished it in four days. I loved the main character, Melanie a 10-year-old girl genius. She loves her teacher, and if you’ve ever had a favorite teacher, you’ll know just how Melanie feels. This story is thrilling, mysterious and horrific and I didn’t want it to end but when it did I was so satisfied. A great read.
Full review below.
Melanie is a very special girl. She’s the top of her class. She adores her teacher Miss Justineau who teaches her about Greek myths, calculus, and even brings in flowers from the outside world. The outside world she’s never seen because she’s kept in a cell with no windows.
The sad thing for Melanie is she is strapped to a wheelchair during class, along with each of her classmates. Their arms, legs and heads are securely fastened. She can’t ever reach out and touch Miss Justinaeu, however much she wants to. Even a simply hug is out of the question. When they are wheeled back to their cells each night by soldiers, guns are drawn on the children as their arms are freed, after which the guards can retreat and Melanie and her classmates can unbuckle themselves and spend the nights alone in their cells. I won’t bite, she jokes as they unbuckle her, they never laugh.
Melanie is a wonderfully drawn character, 10 years old but a genius, piecing together parts of her world without any experience of it. She vaguely remembers a shadow world before language, before the cells. But all that’s solid to her now is the base, the classroom, and the shower room where the students are left each week in their chairs to be sprayed with a strong chemical. The worst day for her is Saturday when they are kept in the cells alone, and she has to do calculus in her head just to keep occupied.
Her world revolves around her teachers, but her favorite is Miss Justinaue. Her dark features such a contrast to Melanie’s own bone white skin. She can’t speak to her class mates from her cell so she doesn’t know much about them, her best friend Anne was moved to another area of the class so she can’t talk to her anymore. Dr Caldwell is researching the students. Melanie doesn’t like Dr Caldwell. She’s a cold and calculating scientist, who’s hunger for recognition and the answer to the plague that has taken over the world is only matched by the hunger of the plague victims.
Dr Caldwell is certain that the ends justify the means. And will stop at nothing to find a cure. Melanie only knows a little bit about the hungeries, as the plague victims are known. But enough to know they will run and run and run after you if they see or smell you and you can never get away.
The hungries are frightening, but the humans left in post-apocalyptic Britain are arguably worse. Junkers are survivalists who forgot how to do anything but survive. The base seems like the height of civil society compared to the Junkers version we only glimpse.
A book about what it means to be human and how easily we can become monsters. (less)
John Meaney has rich and vivid imagination. He's created an alternative universe where cities are powered by the bones of the dead. Wraiths exist insi...moreJohn Meaney has rich and vivid imagination. He's created an alternative universe where cities are powered by the bones of the dead. Wraiths exist inside cars, motorcycles, even lamps, and seem to be a de-facto for artificial intelligence. I was often caught out by a description that was strange not only to me, but was impressive or different for the main character. I never felt I had an understanding of the rules of this world, I know show don't tell, but there wasn't enough showing. Things were strange, people died, and sometimes they came back. There was also a police procedural and hunt for a cadre of killers, but that aspect of this book was the least interesting.(less)
We've had slow food, now comes slow gardening. Trisha Dixon shares her unique garden in Australia, which requires care but can't demand too much water...moreWe've had slow food, now comes slow gardening. Trisha Dixon shares her unique garden in Australia, which requires care but can't demand too much water due to Australia's climate. She manages to convey so much of her garden within the pages of this unique, and beautifully made, book. Overflowing with photos and beautiful illustrations, Trisha expounds the virtues of taking time in the garden. She recommends gardening while listening to music, (see title) appreciating nature, and respecting the natural landscape. By doing this, we will be able to live in the moment, being more mindful and appreciative of nature and our gardens, and we'll bring this mindful way of being into our daily lives. The fonts and handwritten notes complement the images; and form a collage, a book in which no two pages are the same.(less)