Tuesday, 12 August 2014

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Apologies for the dodgy instagram pic - I had to lend this to my sister so I had someone to gush about it to!

As Young Adult writers go, Meg Rosoff has quite a reputation. Having never read anything by her before I chose How I Live Now as a starting point. It tells the story of a fifteen year old american teen named Daisy who is sent to live with her Aunt in the English countryside as the modern world breaks into a full-scale war.

Cool storyline aside, the writing itself has an incredibly refreshing style. It follows Daisy's chain of thoughts and has little punctuation. At first I found that a bit jarring but after a few chapters you get well and truly sucked into the character's head. Luckily that's a good thing as her thoughts are witty, funny and written in a frank, realistic tone.

The narrative doesn't focus, and in fact hardly mentions, why the war is happening and who 'they' are, but it gives a startlingly realistic idea of how something like that might impact the modern world. Closed borders leave Daisy's Aunt stuck abroad and the children must fend for themselves in a country house while bombings, food shortages and invading troops reek havoc in the UK.

There was of course a romantic sub-plot, which weirdly involved Daisy and her cousin and was frankly a bit uncomfortable, but their connection was presented carefully and powerfully and drives Daisy through the very worst of times when the two become separated.

By far my favourite character of the novel was Piper, a captivating blue-eyed young girl to whom Daisy becomes an unexpected guardian of when the cousins are split up. Having said this, each of Rosoff's characters is perfectly formed and individual.

This is a novel that doesn't shy away from the realities a modern day war might pose, but focuses on a normal girl's experience of being on the fringe of it. It's a refreshing read in contrast to the Divergent and Hunger Games series' in which conflict happens in the distant future and is far removed from everything we know.

The ending left me feeling a little bewildered as it is somewhat rushed, but the resolution was touching nonetheless. Well worth the read.

What have you been reading lately?
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