Together in Spirit

An online reading group ('TIS a reading group!) to bring together friends, and friends of friends, who aren't able to be in a conventional reading group due to constraints of time or geography.

Friday, August 19, 2005

August book review

Hi all,
Just a (relatively) short post to say hello and to kick off the reviews about the August book choice, How I Live Now. Hopefully I will get around to updating my profile before too long, but for those of you who don't know me, I am another of the Rea clan (Emily's sister, Val's daughter).

So... I liked How I Live Now, but would rather it had actually been two books. I started to get into the whole teen voice thing at the beginning, and would have happily read a book's worth of insight into the normal (i.e. completely alien, to me at least) teen mind of today, complete with multiple neuroses and lashings of hormones. When the War broke out, apart from being pleasingly surprised by this jolt to the plot, my imagination was captured and my mind started to wander off on a different vein; I wanted to be reading a lot more detail about what was going on from a wider perspective (*see below!). While Rosoff has created a unique story by combining the modern-day war plot with the teenage voice, I ended up being mildly disatisfied by both. I love books which are written purely poetically, and I also love books with a good plot, and for me the two didn't merge effortlessly in How I live Now, although both elements were present and I enjoyed this. (As an aside to illustrate this point, I found Heartbeat and The Curious Incident, two other teen novels mentioned on this site, to each have a stronger individual identity - I thought Heartbeat was a little self-contained piece of art, and The Curious Incident was like stepping into an intriguingly different world without this feeling contrived or overstated - the plot was gripping, but evolved perfectly from the characters.)

For me the best points were 1) the pace - she didn't hang about; 2) the fact that things actually happened, e.g. in the relationship with Edmund, which in other novels by adults for teens would have been dealt with much more slowly and less intensively, which let's face it is not often how teenage romance is.

*Did anyone see the TV drama series "The Last Train", which was on C4 about 5 years ago? I only saw a couple of episodes and wish I'd seen it all. It was a modern/ slightly futuristic story about a group of people who got stuck in a train in a tunnel and thereby escaped the obliteration of modern society due to an armageddon-type event, and what they found when they emerged. I am quite fascinated by the idea of alternative realities/ breakdown of modern society (although not really sci-fi - Terminator is about my level!) - used to love reading John Wyndham etc - so if anyone has any suggestions along this vein I'd appreciate it!

I'll be interested to know what everyone else thought of HILN..
Bye for now, Ruth