Bonnie's Reviews > How I Live Now

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
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's review
Nov 25, 2011

liked it
bookshelves: apocalypse-dystopia, young-adult
Read in June, 2014

What an odd little book.

Daisy is a 15 year-old American girl, shipped off to England by her father and pregnant wicked stepmother. Daisy's angry and resentful and anorexic and feels abandoned by her dad. But she finds a home with her English cousins, who live a bucolic country life. Her cousins are quite independent, as their loving but busy mother is out of the country for weeks at a time on international peace work.

The English cousins are cheery and kind and welcoming. They're also all at least a little psychic. Daisy accepts with complete nonchalance the fact that her cousins Isaac and Piper can talk to animals and her cousin Edmond can read thoughts. I mean, why not? And then Daisy and Edmond fall into incestual love.

But psychic cousins and incest and parental abandonment is really the least of the drama here, as the Enemy attacks London and invades. Who is the Enemy? What do they want? Unclear! Rosoff is clearly speculating on the War on Terror, but refuses to explain where these terrorists come from and their motivations. They're simply a faceless force that is mucking things up.

Daisy and Piper are separated from the boys after the farmhouse is occupied by British forces. This book then becomes the story of living through occupation and Daisy trying to reunite with Edmond. Then very abruptly and all at once its six years later and everyone is dealing with what it means to survive a war.

I enjoyed the narrative style, reminiscent of I Capture the Castle. And the semi-realistic look of what it would be like to go from stable modern society to under occupation.

But I didn't understand why the cousins were psychic - such a random piece of sci fi that is never explored, it just is. And I kept wondering who the Enemy were and what they were doing. They bombed London, then quickly take over the country. But most of Daisy's interactions are with British troops. The British troops seem to have pretty free run of things, as they move around and occupy farmhouses fairly openly. Shouldn't they have to be more underground? I actually didn't realize that the Enemy had reached the countryside for most of the book. I thought all the military checkpoints were run by British troops trying to keep order. Until Daisy is travelling in a van with some others, including the English Major who she's boarding with, and one of the occupants gets shot by a border guard. I couldn't believe it - why would a British soldier shoot at his own people? Was he going rogue? And it was only after the scene took place that I realized, oh, that was an Enemy border guard. And then suddenly the Enemy was everywhere massacring everyone. Why had they been so docile previously?

I also got tripped up by Piper's age several times. Piper is beautiful and charming and vivacious, and several young men seem interested in her. Including one young soldier who watches her admiringly and starts sleeping near her to keep watch over her. Piper is nine years old. This is impossible to remember, because the young male characters don't treat her like an adorable kid sis, but as a potential love interest. They never make an actual move on her, but the interactions Daisy describes make it sound like flirting. In the flashforward, Piper is all of 15 years old, and already engaged (possibly meeting her fiance and falling for him when she was, what? 14? 13? younger?). Maybe Rosoff decided that since the incest taboo could be overcome in this book, age is just a number as well. It was weird.

I enjoyed the writing and the fact that it is not the typical teen dystopia, but much of the plot/setting seemed too thin and sketchy, and it could've used some fleshing out.

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Reading Progress

07/24/2014 marked as: read

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