I have recently begun devouring books again. And I mean, flying through three books in two weeks. That was usually so unlike me. In fact, not too long ago, I could barely finish a book in a year. School and college deterred me from reading for fun, drained my eyes and felt like a chore. And when I did try to read for fun, it was usually non-fiction – so there’s really no wonder why I struggled and struggled.
But after reading The Lord of the Rings, I found myself back in the habit. I read so much that when I went to the bookshop and picked up a few new novels, I didn’t feel guilty – that was the rate I was going at.
So here are a few things I’ve read lately:
If you’re looking for an explosive whodunnit, then this isn’t the book for you. If you are looking for a deep analysis of race, family relationships and teen angst then this is perfect. Beware, this book does have the classic tropes; a missing girl, an outcast bad boy, and a protective mother who wanted better but what it does with those, that some other books don’t, is that it explores the why not the how. It doesn’t focus on finding Lydia, it explores her life before she went missing, from her parents’ meeting to the secret life she kept unbeknownst to them. Teen angst is wrought in this one and parts do come across as predictable but it’s that familiarity that drives you to the end.
If that doesn’t grab you then its writing will. Written in gorgeous language that flows from page to page, you don’t notice the time passing until you realise you’ve reached the back cover.
Pros: setting, writing, complex characters
Cons: constantly screaming “NO” when a character does a questionable thing
I ADORED this book. I couldn’t bear to let it end. I even delayed reading it so that I could drag it out as long as possible, it was that emotive.
Now, I could absolutely be biased here because Sally Rooney and I attended the same college (and also I generally adore young Irish female authors and better still when their book has its own display in Foyle’s on Charing Cross in London) but honestly, the characters and the writing were beyond anything that I could ever imagine devising myself.
This book doesn’t have much of a plot, it’s more like a stream of consciousness, a couple of months in the life of a Trinity student but that is what makes it so wonderful. I felt as though I was reliving my time in college as I followed Frances through Dawson’s Street to Monkstown and back again. Don’t expect a neat little ending, plenty of things happen in that are left unresolved and I would love to see a follow up to see where the characters are now but in a way, that would ruin the wonderful mystique that is this novel.
Look, the only thing I can say is to read it yourself.
Pros: characters, witty one-liners, so incredibly visual
Cons: Sally, just write a follow up for god’s sake.
This is the second Matthew Quick book I have read recently, the other being The Silver Linings Playbook. I picked this book up because it had been recommended to me by Goodreads based on my recently read novels and whilst it was a good read, it didn’t hold me the same way the others did.
The very premise of the book is that Leonard is suicidal and wants to kill his former best friend before committing suicide (not a spoiler, it’s on the back of the book) but the majority of the characters that Leonard meets, we only see once. The story often drifts from unrelated topic to unrelated topic very rapidly, much like a train of thought – which I appreciate was what the writer was trying to do but I felt I learned little about Leonard himself. If we could see him through the eyes of others, I think we could come to terms with his motives a lot more.
In saying that, the reasons why Leonard wants to shoot up his school are incredibly shocking, sad and has obviously left him a very unhinged individual but I feel that gave this book so much potential that it didn’t captialise on.
Pros: good look into the mindset of someone quite obviously very depressed and suicidal – Quick did consult a fair few psychologists to write this book
Cons: not fast paced – the entire 260+ pages focus on one day. Might be better as a screenplay?