Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Girl with All the Gifts, by M. R. Carey

Hey, all! 

I just finished reading The Girl with All the Gifts, by M. R. Carey! This was not exactly YA - more of a general sci-fi book about a not-so-distant future in which zombies have taken over. Totally not my type of book, usually, but I heard so much about this one that I just had to pick it up. 

(Searching for the cover art, I just realized this was made into a movie! I might take time to watch it if I'm bored!)

"Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her "our little genius."

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don't like her. She jokes that she won't bite, but they don't laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children's cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she'll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn't know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

The Girl with All the Gifts is a sensational thriller, perfect for fans of Stephen King, Justin Cronin, and Neil Gaiman."

This book was nothing I expected, and a lot more. I did have a few problems with it, but overall, it was an enjoyable, intense read that was difficult to put down. 

The first thing that struck me about it is that it's in the present tense. At least in YA, it is quite unusual to read a book in which everything is narrated as it is occurring. This brought a new angle to reading that I'm not used to, but it also made it a very cinematic experience. you discovered things along with the characters and saw their actions as they played out. It was actually quite refreshing to read in the present! I did some research and found that Carey is/was an author for DC/Marvel, which you can really see in this book through the way it's written. 

The characters in this book were difficult to pinpoint, personality-wise. Melanie, the main character, was the most vivid. She was a smart girl who only wanted things to be good and sunny. She was actually adorable at her worst. Although she is a zombie, she acts and thinks like a normal child. But when the time comes for her to eat someone to save her teacher, Miss Justineau, the narrative keeps shifting from how gory it is to how much she's enjoying it. The wierd thing is that although she realizes that this is not 'normal', she's all sunshine and rainbows and shiny-anime-eyes when she first discovered eating. 

Miss Justineau is strong-minded and protective, but I would have loved to know more about her past. Through the book there is a feeling that her past before the zombie apocalypse may not have been very bright and sunny. This is one thing that I think having the book written in the present missed out on - we were missing out on backstories, which is something I think is important for character development. 

One character who goes through a lot of development is Parks - this man is completely military, and a real leader. He at first believes that everyone would be better off and safter if he killed Melanie, however he grows to trust her and show affection for her. 

We also have Ghallager, who was my favorite of the group - he's a young guy who is learning how to be a soldier under Parks. I could feel a real personality from him. Have you guys ever seen Pocahontas? You know the kid-setteler who John Smith teaches to shoot? I kept imagining Ghallager as him! 

Finally you have Caroline (ugh hate reading about characters with familiar names), who is a scientist (aw yeah!) in search for a cure against the zombifiying fungus. She is often seen as the misunderstood villain of the story, as she wants to kill Melanie to find a cure. 

This book does go through ethical quesitons as well - weather is is okay to kill for the sake of humanity, and the idea of child imprisonment and keeping the truth from people in order to prevent chaos. It is a lot to think about but I think that the book handled it very well! 

One thing I did NOT like about the book was its end. I'm not going to spoil it for you, but goodness it fell so flat in my opinion! But to be fair, it was 'realistic'. Depressing, but realistic. 

Overall, this book was fast-paced, constantly shifting and moving, with interesting characters and plot, but I wish there could have been a bit more backstory and a more drawn-out ending

I'm giving this a 4/5 feathers! Worth the read, for sure! 

Have you read The Girl with All the Gifts? What did you think of it? Let me know!

Stay bookish, 

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Mosquitoland, by David Arnold

Hey all! 

I recently finished reading Mosquitoland, by David Arnold! 

"After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the "wastelands" of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland.

So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane."

When I started Mosquitoland, I had no expectations - I was lucky enough to meet David Arnold in April at YalFest.NL, but I honestly did not know what his books were about or what kind of author he was. 

Super prepared, right? 

Recently I decided to do a 24-hour readathon to see how much I could get done in a day, and to try to reduce my huge Goodreads Goal lag. I started with Mosquitoland, finished it in the day, and am now in the biggest reading slump I've been in for years. 


This book was amazing! 

Mosquitoland follows Mim - a girl who ran away from home to visit her mom in Ohio, who she believes is sick. This book is in the style of a road trip, and each of her stops is stranger than the next, with complex characters and an incredible, funny narrative. 

Of course, her road trip does not go as planned, there are accidents, she meets strange people that may not want the best for her, etc. But she also meets good friends and gets pulled into stories that are almost unimaginable. 

I loved the way David wrote this - it was smart and funny and light on the heavy issues. It covered mental illness and societal problems in a really unique way, compared to contemporaries I have read before.

What I appreciated was the way he approached mental illness. So often, contemporary authors are put down for their portrayal of mental illness, saying it's 'romanticized' or not explained right. David Arnold does have some characters will such illnesses, but he never really puts a label on them. One of the side characters is described to have autistic-like characteristics, while the main mentions of Mim's illness are the fact that she needs to take daily medicine, and that she knows that people around her think she has a problem. They way it was described made mental illness a background feature of this book, rather than a pivotal plot point, which was very refreshing! 

A lot of this book was centered around personal relations between people - whether they are strangers, friends or people who have to be dealt with despite disagreements or dislikings. We saw Mim's perceived relations with both her mother and step-mother, her father, and strangers. Strangers always had a distinctive feature about them as their 'name', such as Poncho Man. People she considered as friends were called by their first names. I loved each of the characters, even all of the side characters that were only around for one chapter! 

The plot of the book was unexpected but done really well - nothing was so incredibly out of the ordinary that it fell into the ridiculous, which was great! Through the series of events, Mim goes through loads of character developments that I found amazing! She grew through friendships with very different people, which is something that I can relate to and really enjoyed reading about! 

The ending of this book was unexpected, emotional, and came out of nowhere. There was loads of redemption and none of it was cliche! 

I could keep gushing about this book for hours, but, because of upcoming travels, I have to stop my review here!! 

I'm giving this book a 5/5 feathers - it was so great! 

Have you read Mosquitoland? What did you think of it? Let me know!! 

Stay bookish,