Review: I’ll Give You the Sun

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NoahandJude are inseparable twins. Jude is a daredevil who surfs and wears dark lipstick and short skirts against her mother’s wishes. Noah gets lost in art and is in love with the boy of his dreams. Their relationship becomes tense as they struggle for attention from their mother, the same friends and a place at a prestigious art schools. A tragedy occurs. The twins stop speaking to each other. The twins only have one half of the story each, if only they could come back together…

The first chapter is hard to get through. It sounds like something I’d write when I was 12. But trust me, the prose gets better. Noah and Jude jump off the page as realistic characters with their own voices, dreams and fears. The writing is pleasant to read, although punctuated with potentially annoying features such as Noah’s mind paintings and quotes from their dead grandma. Noah and Jude alternate as narrators at different points of time, and despite this, Nelson manages to make the story flow very well.

This is a book about secrets and revelations. It’s about 70% revelation and 30% actual action. At first, I admired how much Nelson was able to tie her characters and plot together. But by the end I felt that there were too many coincidences. The last few pages felt very rushed and the ending can be interpreted as uplifting. Or as I would put it: the ending was too happy.

I’ll Give You the Sun is ultimately a book about siblings, love, guilt, family, recovery and art.

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Review: A Visit From The Goon Squad

A Visit from the Goon Squad

Bennie is an aging former punk rocker and record executive. Sasha is the passionate, troubled young woman he employs. Here Jennifer Egan brilliantly reveals their pasts, along with the inner lives of a host of other characters whose paths intersect with theirs. With music pulsing on every page, A Visit from the Goon Squad is a startling, exhilarating novel of self-destruction and redemption. (from Goodreads)

A Visit from the Goon Squad explores the effects of time on innocence, youth and success through its large span of characters. The novel works like a carefully threaded set of short stories, each short story relating to one of the main characters (Bennie or Sasha) and utilises new and innovative forms of literature, such as using powerpoint slides and interview texts. I enjoyed the revolving perspectives and styles, an interesting way to get a story across, these techniques allow Egan reach her goal of exploring the effects of time in a short novel.

The novel was definitely a great and gripping read, however, I really like to get my hands dirty with characters and I felt sometimes this wasn’t possible in this novel as we only get glimpses of most characters.

I would have liked a more diverse range of characters. Almost all the characters were musicians or professors, a horny boy/man, conventionally sexually appealing women/men, etc. The whole cast is pretty fucking white middle class if you ask me. Furthermore, the topics of gender and sexuality is very there when Egan portrays relationships, but never really given its own discourse. Which is a pity.

In conclusion I would say it was an enjoyable read, but not a book I’d go back to time after time. I definitely think characters could have been better developed and more diverse in terms of personality and backgrounds. The characters feel like a blur, when really after reading a book you want to hold onto them and cherish them.

Review: Radio Silence

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Hello.

I hope somebody is listening.

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Frances has always lived as “School Frances”- the perfect headgirl, the robotic high achiever devoid of personality. But when she meets Aled, the ingenius creator behind her favourite podcast, she feels free to be herself for the first time. But when the fragile trust between them is broken, Frances is forced to confront the past. She has to confess why Carys, Aled’s twin, disappeared. And she has to rescue Aled from Universe City before it’s too late.

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A fast paced, contemporary YA novel that explores relationships in a digital age. On one hand, Radio Silence revolves around an Internet mystery- an anonymous Youtuber who creates a popular podcast series called “Universe City”, and on the other hand, it follows a group of stressed and tired sixth-form students who are about to make the most important step in their lives- go to university (or so they think). When these two worlds collide,  everything explodes: fandom, the effects of fame, friendship & trust, sexuality, the thin veil between reality and fiction, the ‘real’ person vs how they appear, expectations vs staying true to your self.

At the heart of the book is two things: Alice Oseman’s wonderfully diverse and fascinating characters, and a discussion about going to university- something that’s become a rite of passage for British teenagers (or should I say, new adults?). Alice Oseman has no difficulty getting her message across, doing it succinctly and with style.