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Snowflake, AZ

liked it 3.00  ·  Rating details ·  206 ratings  ·  78 reviews
Ash gets on a Greyhound bus to the place Bly was last seen: Snowflake, Arizona. Six thousand feet up in the wide red desert, Ash meets Mona; her goat, Socrates; her dog, Cooper; and finds stepbrother Bly, too.

In their ramshackle homes, the walls lined with tinfoil, Mona and her neighbors are all sick. But this isn’t any ordinary sickness: modern life has poisoned them, and
Hardcover, 303 pages
Published September 17th 2019 by Norton Young Readers (first published September 5th 2019)
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liked it Average rating 3.00  · 
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Jul 25, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2, 2019, ya, starred-2019
2.5 stars

I don't know. This one just didn't add up to a cohesive whole for me. As much as I like Sedgwick's work, as much as I was taken by most of the ideas in this story, Snowflake, AZ doesn't strike me as a novel that is successful at what it tried to accomplish.

The novel starts with Ash arriving at Snowflake, AZ (a real place). He is looking for his older step brother, and he finds him in a small community of people who suffer from medically unrecognized maladies, such as MCS (multiple chemi
Jacqueline Allan
Jul 23, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had great hopes for this book and love the author however I gave up 60% into it. I was truly bored with it. The language was strange and the storyline was just odd. I thought it would be similar to 1984 in a way but no. I hate giving up on a book but this was probably one of the worst books I’ve ever read.
Shannon (It Starts At Midnight)
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

Marcus Sedgwick sure writes some unique stuff. I won't pretend that this was my favorite of his per se, but it definitely had some thought provoking moments. In the book, Ash sets out to find stepbrother Bly, who's disappeared into this remote community in Arizona (ironically named Snowflake). When Ash arrives, they find that it's a community of people living primarily off the grid, but
Jayne  Downes
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
I found this book slow moving and strange nearly giving up on it. The characters were not engaging and it dragged on with a lot of odd philosophical writing. It was a shame because the ideas were interesting; it is a warning about how modern life and products are poisoning people and the environment.
Aug 10, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: arcs
The premise of this book is based on a real life event that happened to the author, Marcus Sedgwick. After returning from a trip to Asia he started getting sick. Doctors could not give him a reason for this illness, and were inclined to suggest that it was all in his head.
On the back of this diagnosis, Marcus discovered a real-life community living in Snowflake, Az who claim to suffer from illnesses born (among other things) from chemicals used in the modern world.

The book explores this concep
Sep 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, netgalley
Thanks to Netgalley for the complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

I usually adore this author and was excited for an opportunity to read this. Unfortunately, this book was a little slow for me. It feels important and has many ideas that are interesting, but not much happens. This book is more one of ideas than events.
Samantha Fondriest
The writing is probably a 3, the plot is a 1.5, but the conspiratorial way medicine is treated - especially in an age of anti-vaxxers - is downright dangerous and problematic. And I’m not someone who usually finds things “problematic,” so that’s saying something from me. This book is full of tin-foil levels of crazy. I couldn’t get past how absolutely batshit crazy the first 2/3 of the book, despite some interesting-but-not-fully-developed points the author tries to make in the back third. Hence ...more
Jan 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: biblion
Several times I revised this review before even posting it. Because I have so much I want to write about this book. I had to stop myself and get back to the core of it all.

I feel the intention was to make the reader think about certain topics, and in that extent, the story about Ash falling ill is mostly a means to present different cases and subjects to the reader. Interesting if they are new ideas that you haven't thought of in that way. A bit boring if you already considered the ideas presen
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is difficult. I think Marcus Sedgwick is a genius and I wanted, rather badly, to enjoy this book. The fact is that I didn't, not even a little. That said, the last page, kind of like the last story in Dubliners, made the slog of the rest of it worth it, more than, perhaps. ...more
Aug 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book frustrated me. I wasn't sure what it would be based on the description. I thought maybe dystopia, which it is in a weird way. Then I read the author's note in the beginning that said the book is based on his experience of being told that his unseen disease is all in his head. This book could have been a great thing for people with unseen diseases (mental illnesses, chronic pain, etc) that have faced disbelief and even anger from other people. Instead, we have a group of people who have ...more
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read this while I was sick with an "undiagnosis" is very relevant and timely. Also, having moved to AZ from another City for health reasons and knowing that our state does have people that indeed live on the outskirts of society and societal norms, found it particularly plausible. All in all, we humans just don't know what we don't know. ...more
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don’t think I could sum up in a nutshell what this book is all about any better than the synopsis that came with the book from the publisher: ‘A timely, contemporary novel challenging ideas around health – our own and our planet's – and the stigma that persists around illness’, so I am not going to try.
My first brief response on Twitter when I finished reading the book was that quite simply: ‘This is an incredibly powerful book for anyone who manages a long-term chronic illness such as Chronic
Sep 03, 2019 rated it did not like it
I’m not going to lie and say i finished it. I got 55% of the way through and honestly it’s been a real trudge through it. I’m sad to give it such a review as the premise is incredibly promising, however the way it is written is very strange and slow. I’m usually a real fan of Sedgwick but unfortunately this one just isn’t for me.
Apr 09, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf
DNF at 40%-ish

Once I got to the discussion of Dr Ray (a very thinly veiled reference to Dr William Rae) I just couldn't do it anymore.

Let me first say that I know first hand what it's like to be chronically ill, especially with an invisible illness. I also know people with chemical sensitivities, and I have no doubt that some people can be extremely allergic to certain chemicals, pollutants, molds, and other things - including in ways we don't understand yet. I also have no doubt that the folks
This book is hard to rate. There is such oddness in the book, and it isn't the main topic of the type of illness either, it's the way the book is written.

First of all the narrator, Ash, calls him/her self a kid. (It is never firmly stated if Ash is a boy or girl, I'm going with girl for pronouns sake.) Early on Ash says she is 18, but the way Ash thinks is more like aged 12. It's way off, the age and the writing level and the extreme immaturity. So I found myself continually asking, how old is
Grace Olson
May 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: eng-356
I would never have picked up this book if it had not been required for a class, but I am glad it was. I enjoyed it very much, and I liked what it had to say. It resonated with me on a pretty personal level, because I, and members of my family, have been through the same or very similar health situations as described in the book. As a family, we discuss the same issues of environmental responsibility, the impact of man made toxicities on health, the incompetence and willful ignorance of some (not ...more
Adam Murphy
The story and atmosphere of Snowflake, AZ by Marcus Sedgwick embeds itself in your brain! Aside from the gripping story to go along with it, its sense of the landscape and environment is very vivid that’ll make your eyes open from beginning to end.

Ash has lived in eight states in as many years. Mom has gone walkabout, but stepdad Jack is like a father, and stepbrother Bly the best anyone could wish for. When Bly goes missing too, Ash sets off to search for him – and finds something much bigger:
Sydney Smith
May 16, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: english-356
I am going to be completely honest here. I hated this book with a passion. If I was able to figure out how to give this book no stars I would! If this book wasn't required for my English 356 class there is no way I would have wasted my time on it. I really wanted to like this book since Sedgwick's other books are so amazing but Snowflake AZ was the worst book I have ever read! This book was only 300 pages or so but it felt like 1000 pages of dry nonsense that didn't relate to the plot at all. I ...more
Jul 03, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-adult
I'm a big fan of Marcus Sedgwick's writing and overall I seemed to have enjoyed this book more than most people who have reviewed it here. I didn't unequivocally love it, to be honest, and I can see how others might have found it too slow or frustrating or problematic, but if I were to describe it in one word it would be thought-provoking.

It's definitely a story more about ideas more than events, and it raises a lot of interesting points about various stigmas around health conditions, the envir
Maurynne  Maxwell
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
This could have been a five star book, so I'll say the good stuff first. This is a novel meant to produce questions instead of answers; philosophy is a major theme. Is it ironic homage to Candide? It certainly fits the modern psyche better. I loved the plot and most of the writing. I, too am a canary, having developed MCS though so far not CFS. The book clearly echoes the rage of realizing that modernity is killing us. Also acknowledges the gift of illness as teacher. I like the quest for kindne ...more
Nov 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
I picked up this book because of the title: my great-grandparents lived in Snowflake, and I still have cousins there. I may have visited as a child, but don't have memories of it.

This novel is a cautionary tale about life in the modern world, topped off with an unspecified climate crises, mentioned retrospectively, like we all know what happened. Looking for his stepbrother Bly, Ash joins a community of people who are made sick by the chemicals and electricity of normal life, and realizes that
Dan Thompson
Oct 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Many describe this latest YA novel by Marcus Sedgwick as dystopian and that conjures up an assumption of what the book will be about. And thrill seekers of the genre will find very little of any dystopia in here. At least the type of dystopia we assume we’ll find. Instead Snowflake, AZ is more a contemporary, coming of age novel with medical and philosophical themes.

I really enjoyed this book. It was insightful, clever, and made you think. I loved the lack of action, which isn’t for everyone, bu
Jul 14, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ash (nickname Snowflake) visits his step-brother Bly who lives in Snowflake, Arizona. It’s a middle-of-nowhere town where all the residents suffer from illnesses which can’t be explained, or often aren’t even believed, by medical science. The residents believe their illnesses are brought on by the chemicals and electricity of the modern world.

And there’s a Tennessee Fainting Goat. Don’t entirely know why there’s a goat. But he’s called Socrates.

There were lots of interesting facts and ideas, som
Feb 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
It felt like this book was meant to be sympathetic to people who suffer from undiagnosed illnesses, but at the same time it made all of the people seem foolish. Ash is just thrown into this environment and doesn't really give us an understanding of what is good or bad for people and which people and how they figure it out. Like one guy makes a wooden piece to wire his phone through because he can't use the plastic reciever, but then he eats twinkies as a staple food, and they are packaged indivi ...more
May 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: eng-356
This was one of nine class assigned books. I’d recommend it to someone I knew didn’t mind swearing or enjoyed that kind of flavor in a contemporary read. If I knew someone who didn’t believe in mental illnesses it would be an interesting discussion point and perhaps the story would be enough to open their minds to the possibility of common or less known mental illnesses at least- I don’t know anyone believing or unbelieving who hasn’t been told at some point a personal problem was “in their head ...more
Zachary B Jones
May 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: english-356
I read Snowflake, AZ by Marcus Sedgwick because it was assigned in class. At first, the book was very offputting, but the more I read the more I wanted to read. It covers complex ideas about sickness and mental health, and how our society often rejects people and ideas that we cannot understand.

There are many discussions that could benefit students if this book was read in class. First, there is a discussion to be had about how we treat and stigmatize mental health. Are people with mental healt
Kathlyn Metcalf
May 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 356-shelf
I loved this book. I like that Sedgwick writes it in a way that you feel like you are the main character. he includes twists and turns that no one would expect, I certainly didn't. One of my favorite things about this book is that it leaves you with more questions than you begin with. After reading Snowflake, AZ I felt the need to look up EI and MCS and try to understand it more. And I like that he wrote it based off of personal life experiences, it made it easier to connect with the main charac ...more
Rylee Manning
May 06, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: ed-356
I read this book for my young adult literature class. If I had stumbled upon it in the library I might have picked it up because I had a sister that lived in Snowflake, AZ for a while. I visited her once but never saw the people that make up the community described in this book. If I hadn't had to read this for my class, I would not have finished it. The book did not engage me personally, but I can see how it would be appealing to a student in middle school or lower high school who has an intere ...more
May 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 356
I read this book solely because it was a requirement for my class this semester. Having to read this book for class did not make it any easier to push through. However, I'd recommend this book for anyone who enjoys reading about dystopian worlds, pandemics, and odd societies. I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who needs books to move at a quicker pace, as this one is a slow burn.

Honestly, I don't see this book being beneficial in a classroom setting. I think that there are a lot of other very in
Jackie Zimmermann
Mar 22, 2020 rated it did not like it
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Marcus Sedgwick was born in Kent, England. Marcus is a British author and illustrator as well as a musician. He is the author of several books, including Witch Hill and The Book of Dead Days, both of which were nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award. The most recent of these nominations rekindled a fascination with Poe that has borne fruit here in (in The Restless Dead, 2007) the form of "The Hea ...more

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