Recent Reads: the first of 2019.

4 April 2019

This post was definitely meant to be published in January... oops. Well, happy 2019, my book loving pals! This is set to be an exciting year in the book world, and the magical UKYA community. I started the year with a bookish bang; three YA novels! Wanna know how I felt about them? Read on… 




Someday, by David Levithan. 

For as long as A can remember, life has meant waking up in a different person's body every day, forced to live as that person until the day ended. And now A has found out there are others.

A has already been wrestling with powerful feelings of love and loneliness. Now comes an understanding of the extremes that love and loneliness can lead to—and what it's like to discover that you are not alone in the world.

Someday’ takes readers further into the lives of A, Rhiannon, Nathan, and the being X. And the key questions of the series are answered: What is a soul? And what makes us human? 




I think it says a lot that it took me almost a month to get through this book - when I blazed through the first two novels in this series in a matter of days. It was good, the writing was beautiful in places as per, but it was also clunky and inconclusive and tied up a bit too neatly at the end. 



I loved the first two novels in this series. This story has always had me gripped, and the concept itself is beautiful, original and kinda genius. I gobbled up ‘Every Day’ and ‘Another Day’ within a matter of, well, days. 

However, this one took me a while to get through. I think because the bulk of it was focused on a very complicated relationship between two beings and a simply not-quite-right relationship between two regular humans. Also, there was a lot of talk and not much action. Also, the alternating narratives of A, X, Rhiannon and Nathan were a little clunky. Also, there was another narrative running through it of a chat room conversation that seemed a little forced to begin with, and then petered off for the entire middle of the novel, then picked back up at the last possible second and was a bit of an anti-climax. 




I'm gonna keep this brief. It's safe to say I wasn’t thrilled with this instalment in the series. Sorry, David! 

Side note: I also recently watched ‘Every Day’, the movie, on Netflix. It was super cute… but borderline irritating in that cuteness!? It just came off really fluffy and shiny. I’d have liked to see more of the grit and quirk. Also, I’m convinced Rhiannon was played by Amy Adams after she jumped through a wormhole of some kind.


*


All the Lonely People, by David Owen. 

Kat has been a target for bullies, seeking to destroy her online life. Once they succeed in wiping her off the internet, her physical body begins to fade and while everybody else forgets that she exists, the guy responsible for it is suddenly the only one left who remembers her. Overcome by remorse for what he has done, Wesley resolves to stop her disappearing completely. It might just be the only way to save himself. 

All the Lonely People’ is about online culture – the good and the bad – and explores the experience of loneliness in a connected world, and the power of kindness and empathy over hatred. 





Words used in reviews and quotes I’ve seen so far for this (brilliant) book include: timely, emotional, clever… and here’s my contribution: unique. It was technically science fiction, but it felt painfully contemporary as I read. The idea that we humans could fade away into nothingness and be completely forgotten about if our individual online worlds and personalities were deleted? A little too real, in this day and age. 


Issues tackled in this fictional tale include: loneliness (obvs), toxic masculinity, belonging, feminism, the many horrors of the online world, and the dependency some of us humans (particularly young ones) can have on social media. 

Also, this was an excellently queer novel. As Alice Oseman pointed out in her Goodreads review, the central romance was f/f; believe it or not, the male and female narrators who alternate throughout do not end up together. That was super refreshing, tbh. 

This is David's best book thus far. Grab and devour immediately. 


*


Paper Avalanche, by Lisa Williamson. 


Ro lives with her mum, Bonnie (‘never mum or mummy or mother. Just Bonnie’) and doesn’t let anyone ever visit their house. They can’t find out what’s inside. It’s a lonely existence, but at least she’s not in danger that way.
But then Tanvi Shah, the girl who had cancer in Year 7, bursts back into her life and Ro finds her usual walls of defence aren’t working, and suddenly she’s scared what could happen to her and Bonnie… 




I think Lisa W is so clever when it comes to creating characters. It almost sneaks up on me, the amount I come to care for them as the story goes on – and then there’s that initial dislike I feel for their bullies, toxic friends and, in this case, mentally unstable mothers, that soon transforms into sympathy and sadness and deep understanding!? I don’t think anybody in her books (see my previous loves: ‘The Art of Being Normal’ and ‘All About Mia’, as well as her key part in ‘Floored’) is one dimensional, and my first impressions are almost always proven wrong in some way. 

I adored Ro Snow, and the initially irritating Tanvi Shah, and eventually even felt something for the awfully selfish Bonnie. Whoa. 

Lovely Lisa will be featured VERY soon in my new How, What, Where & When series, talking more about 'Paper Avalanche', so stay tuned for that!



(spoiler alert

Also, I loved that not everything in this story was magically 100% solved by the end of the book. I sometimes tire of the novel structures that feel the need to neatly wrap everything up in a cute bundle by the end, then sprinkle some inane optimistic glitter on top of it, just for good measure. It’s cute, and yeah, maybe what some readers need, but for me it's too unrelatable. ‘Paper Avalanche’ ended with gentle reconciliation, tentative transitions, and a lot of hope. 

Oh also, there was a sweet romance that was a brilliant little sub plot, and not the whole story!!!?! And a first kiss that didn’t take up several pages with description!? That’s so rare in YA! Hey other authors, just so you know I am here for that! 

Little end note, and unsubtle nudge for Netflix’s creative humans: I can see this book becoming a gorgeous, moving film. I'd have to have a hand in casting though, because I'd need Raffey Cassidy to play Ro, maybe Joanna Scanlan to be Bonnie, and definitely Noah Centineo to play... well, Noah. 



That's it for now, folks! Stay tuned for the next instalment of Recent Reads, and in the mean time, why not check out the first in my new bookish interview series, How, What, Where and When?



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