Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Dear Blog,
a short-ish review because I have lots of homework to get through.
Summary (from Goodreads): Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.
As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.
A riveting and astonishing story.

Review:  I really wasn't sure what to expect with How I Live Now.  The cover, the blurb, never gives away any elements of potential war and dystopian life.  It's only when you start reading then you realise how big a part war plays in the book.
Well, never judge a book by it's cover, I guess.

How I Live Now is, if this makes sense, wonderfully chaotic (I just realised how I contradicted myself with that sentence.  Baha).  The writing style is absolutely all over the place, but the confusing-ness seems to add
to the essence of the story. I don't know why, but the almost freewheeling air of carefree-ness reminded me a lot of Bonjour Tristesse.  Which is a little strange, but still, to my mind, true.  Even amidst occupation, the first weeks Daisy spends in England just seem totally perfect anyway, cut off from the world in the middle of the countryside in an English summer where-gasp- it's not raining non-stop. It's so idyllic and perfect.
That is of course until the war really affects Daisy and her cousins.  When she and Piper are sepearated from the boys and sent to live elsewhere, tragic things ensue. 

The main romance in the book is the relationship between Daisy and her slightly younger cousin Edmond.  Incest in some circles, just slightly strange in others.  True, but Edmond himself is absent for the second half of the book, only really appearing at the beginning and then right at the very end, and even though he remains much of a mystery to the reader.  Still, you can't help but wish that he and Daisy could be re-united, and bitter and disappointed when you do.  Daisy's emotions seem so real, that the reader ends up longing for Edward to turn up and make everything right again.

One thing that I'm not so keen on, though, is how vague the book is. You never really find out why England is at war, or who the occupiers are.  I suppose this is to make the situation seem more real, as if it could happen at any time, but instead it just doesn't make much sense.  Still, it's interesting to watch England fall apart in such a way, seeing as it features little in YA dystopian fiction. 
Despite that slight flaw, How I Live Now is devastating and utterly heartbreaking anyway.  Especially part two, the last twenty pages or so of the book.  It's hard to explain without giving heaps away, so I'll keep my lips zipped. Still, it was utterly devastating with one of those tiny flickers of hope at the end that makes it even more tragic, in a way. 

In Three Words: confusing, heartbreaking, wonderful.
Reccomended for: teenagers and adults. 
Rating: 4.5

1 comment:

  1. I read this book several years ago and absolutely loved it. An odd sort of read but really captured my attention.

    I found your blog from Stories and Sweeties. I am a new follower! Great review!


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