Q Every war has turning points and every person too c Q If you haven t been in a war and are wondering how long it takes to get used to losing everything you think you need or love, I can tell you the answer is no time at all c Q I noticed that once you realize someone s watching you it s pretty hard not to find yourself watching them back c Q Staying alive was what we did to pass the time c Q I didn t seem to have that effect on anyone but it would have been a waste for both of us to be saints c Q The real truth is that the war didn t have much to do with it except that it provided a perfect limbo in which two people who were too young and too related could start kissing without anything or anyone making us stop c Q I was pretty far gone, but not so far gone that I thought anyone with half a toehold in reality would think what we were doing was a good idea c Q Fighting back is what I ve discovered I do best Q some people are lonely for all the right reasons c Q Things Happen and once they start happening you pretty much just have to hold on for dear life and see where they drop you when they stop c Well, it s official I am a total sucker for a stream of consciousness style narration.
The writing was very wistful and if it was any flowing, I would certainly have slipped and face planted half way through this You know how from time to time a book comes along that you re positive you won t forget about it anytime soon but can t really explain exactly WHYThat s how I feel about How I Live Now and these precious kids.
Charming surrounding, extraordinarily charming characters ohmigod Piper , in the mist of cruelty, death and loss all around The desperation of it just got to me so hard, the crying that I did view spoiler for dear dear Edmund hide spoiler Every War Has Turning Points And Every Person Too Fifteen Year Old Daisy Is Sent From Manhattan To England To Visit Her Aunt And Cousins She S Never Met Three Boys Near Her Age, And Their Little Sister Her Aunt Goes Away On Business Soon After Daisy Arrives The Next Day Bombs Go Off As London Is Attacked And Occupied By An Unnamed EnemyAs Power Fails, And Systems Fail, The Farm Becomes Isolated Despite The War, It S A Kind Of Eden, With No Adults In Charge And No Rules, A Place Where Daisy S Uncanny Bond With Her Cousins Grows Into Something Rare And Extraordinary But The War Is Everywhere, And Daisy And Her Cousins Must Lead Each Other Into A World That Is Unknown In The Scariest, Most Elemental WayA Riveting And Astonishing Story SO FREAKING GOOD I didn t like this weird little book until about halfway through The narrator sounded too much like a teen I know, I know and I didn t know what was going on but then I somehow got lost in the voice Suddenly I was seeing things through the narrator s eyes and no one else s This slim volume is like a textbook on how to write limited first person Absolutely excellent wondering why all my reviews are five stars Because I m only reviewing my favorite books not every book I read Consider a novel s presence on my Goodreads bookshelf as a hearty endorsement I can t believe I just said hearty It sounds like a stew.
This summer I started doing fitnessy activities not in an attempt to lose weight or clear my prematurely blocked arteries but in response to the plethora of Young Adult Dystopian Novels that led me to question whether I could a win the Hunger Games b jump from a moving train with my Dauntless buddies c take out an alien with a swift kick to the face and then evade their hot spaceship pursuit The answers to these questions are a no b no c no Young Adult Dystopian Novels forced me to stare fate straight in the eye if removed from my cushy existence by a twist of apocalyptic fate, I would die I would die every single time Refusing to accept this, I began a workout regimen to guarantee my survival But then I read How I Live Now and my resolve is weakening Because Daisy, who charmingly narrates her experiences during a world war, is no Teen Action Hero She reacts how the vast majority of us would in dire circumstances not by staging a coup or leading the resistance, but by surviving as best as she can Now I m left wondering if my pushups and jogs are even worth anything if the world fell apart, I d probably just stay in my basement trying to stop my towering piles of canned goods from toppling over And face it so would you.
So that s what s so refreshing about this novel It s about normal people The people that most of us would be during all out world war The people simply trying to survive That s Daisy s story It s a story of survival in extreme circumstances and then learning to accept those circumstances as her life forever After finishing the novel, I can t help but wonder whether humankind s immense adaptability is a strength or a weakness It s wonderful how Daisy and so many others find new ways to live after catastrophe, but isn t it sad how quickly we humans adapt to a less than perfect world How easily content we become with nothing Meg Rosoff is an excellent writer and demonstrates her skill most readily with Daisy s voice The novel is first person with Daisy recounting her experiences after the fact The most incredible thing Daisy actually sounds like a teenager Aside from one too many SAT words, How I Live Now truly reads like a teenager talks Daisy s narration is witty suggesting that we can find humor even in the darkest moments and her experiences are recorded in the same way she might have submitted an essay to her English teacher on the first day of school titled What I Did During Summer Vacation When Bombs Hit Britain and This Manhattanite Was Stuck On the Wrong Side of the Atlantic During World War Three With Her Very Hot Cousin I ve seen many reviewers object to the novel s incestuous relationship The incest is quite secondary and it s included in the plotline to show how something scandalous in normal times is entirely irrelevant even laughably unimportant in times where people care about 1 dying in a nuclear attack 2 dying by gunfire 3 dying from starvation 4 dying from infection 5 DYINGI guess there was a war going on somewhere in the world that night but it wasn t one that could touch usHow I Live Now may have destroyed any motivation I had to go running tomorrow, but I m glad I read it I want to read books especially in YA about the people who aren t overtly special, who aren t the Chosen Ones Daisy is a normal teenage girl facing an extraordinary situation She is a reminder that life persists even in epochs of death.
PS There is a film adaptation coming soon starring the lovely Saoirse Ronan trailer The movie Daisy seems to be badass than she was in the book, but it was the film s approaching release date that urged me to read this sooner rather than later and I m happy I did.
While the world wavers on the brink of war, struck by terrorist attacks and embargoes, Daisy s big concern is whether her stepmother is poisoning her food and how much she hates the unborn baby Shipped off by her father to stay with cousins she s never met in England, she s not so far into herself that she doesn t notice something a bit odd about them Osbert, the eldest, seems fairly normal, being responsible for his siblings while their mother, Daisy s Aunt Penn, is away but really wanting to spend time with his friends spying on the enemy Twins Edmond and Isaac are the most strange Edmond can hear her thoughts and silent Isaac prefers to talk to the farm animals The youngest, Piper, is a sweet girl who has a way with animals too, and likes to forage in the woods for things to eat.
Daisy doesn t eat She s made herself anorexic through her fanciful fear of her stepmother poisoning her, and then it became something she didn t have to think about When Aunt Penn leaves for Oslo to help with peace negotiations, the five children are left alone at the old farmhouse They feel far removed from any conflict, and hear conflicting reports Warnings of small pox keep people practically housebound, and idle days lead to an intense relationship between Daisy and her cousin Edmond.
Finally, the Territorial Army comes and commandeers the house and land for their own use, and Daisy and Piper are sent to live with a Major s wife whose son is fighting elsewhere Daisy s one goal is to get back to Edmond and the farmhouse, but first she must figure out where Edmond and Isaac have been taken, and how to get there.
I had heard high praise of this book with such a boring cover, I probably wouldn t have read it otherwise I certainly never noticed it But it was a hugely disappointing read.
I can see what the author was aiming for here to show how desensitised young people are to war and violence, and also how they can rise to the occasion and what they go through to survive There are lots of exceptional stories about these themes I wrote an assignment on them for my teaching degree I just don t think Rosoff did a very good job Also, it piggy backs on some better novels that deal with the same or similar themes and situations As with The Hunger Games, an enjoyable book that can be read as a Hollywood rewrite of Battle Royale, How I Live Now simply reminded me of far better books especially John Marsden s Tomorrow, When the War Began.
Written in a stream of consciousness first person narration in two parts, the first part meant to show Daisy s underdeveloped ability to write properly because she doesn t know how to write dialogue, as compared to the second part written six years later, it can be exhausting to read Melinda in Speak narrated in similar style but to better effect Daisy s voice runs on with barely a breath and gives it a rushed feeling, so that details were hard to take in and I sometimes became disorientated As an example of her running sentences, here s her description of Edmond Now let me tell you what he looks like before I forget because it s not exactly what you d expect from your average fourteen year old what with the CIGARETTE and hair that looked like he cut it himself with a hatchet in the dead of night, but aside from that he s exactly like some kind of mutt, you know the ones you see at the dog shelter who are kind of hopeful and sweet and put their nose straight into your hand when they meet you with a certain kind of dignity and you know from that second that you re going to take him home Well that s him p 3 It made me dizzy Sure her exuberance could be seen as energising, or at least realistic, but Daisy was such an unlikeable character for the better part of the book that it s hard to listen to her Sure, she s vulnerable and yes, she did seem to be a realistic portrayal of self centred modern teens, and she would doubtless appeal to others for her frankness and inner vulnerability, but to me she was empty, hollow For someone who s narrating, I didn t learn much about her, and through her shallow eyes I learnt only superficial things about others.
Likewise, I didn t buy her relationship with Edmond She talks about how intense it is, how they connect, but I can t buy it because she never shows me She never shows anything, just tells tells tells I ve read some very good books with first person narration that, through the author s skill, manage to reveal than the narrator realises, so that the reader has an even better understanding of what s going on than the narrator does, even though they re our only source There s nothing of that here And since I couldn t get to know any of the characters, I couldn t care about them either.
I was expecting , to be honest, on all fronts This is a decidedly lacklustre book and the I talk about it the less impressed I become The war situation is never explained in a way that makes sense, so it s like an annoying gnat trying to get your attention but just isn t important enough to Daisy says the enemy drew the British troops somewhere else then swooped in and took the country and now defend it from the original army Okay But that then creates a very interesting situation of invader and occupier that is barely touched upon Want to convince me that Daisy IS in a war zone Rationing, send the kids off to strangers, shoot a couple of people, a massacre at a farmhouse yeah, that should do it Huh No.
When you read books written by people who lived through invasions and occupations, who lived through war books like Suite Fran aise for example you really notice that people being shot is the least of it It s so much than that The elements are here, such as the disintegration of Aunt Penn s family, but it lacks any kind of real emotional involvement Keep it superficial and hope the reader will fill in the gaps with their imagination Nice try, but you re missing the point The only satisfying thing about this survival tale is Daisy learning to eat the smartest thing she does.
There are other things that nag at me Quite possibly the reason Rosoff set this story in England is because she now lives there, having moved from America but it s than that For a century England has been the place of children s war stories, Narnia being the most famous I grew up exposed to many through books and BBC adaptations, and my mother is a big fan of these stories There s something about England, captured in Narnia and fantasy books like Mythago Wood, that draw on its druidic roots and ancient magic that makes England a place that straddles the line between realms, that makes it a place of possibility and secret gardens and all sorts of things Moving Daisy to England seemed a bit redundant, because it wasn t utilised to its full effectiveness So her cousins were misfits, being telepathic and the like with so much potential between the war and England s magic and mind powers, it s no wonder I was expecting something with oomph Daisy glosses over so many things, never fully explaining or delving into things so that everything becomes almost trite, that I struggled to finish it My main emotional response a lot of the time was So Depending on the laws of your country, cousinly love isn t technically incestuous but there is definitely something a bit creepy about it The father of Aunt Penn s children is never revealed, but considering the children s oddness it could be thought their parents were cousins themselves Because the relationship didn t feel real to me, not the way it was written and I m not asking for graphic sex scenes, far from it , it didn t feel necessary either.
Add it all up, and you get a quick in and out survival story told by someone who s really quite boring and, yes, a product of her our times and not a flattering one either but the novel fails to really explore anything, and what could have been insightful observations, gripping plot and engaging characters merely becomes flaws The magic that should come with setting a children s war survival story in England is completely missing A shame, but like I said, there are better books out there.
I encourage you all to read this beautiful piece by Kaye M.
In all fairness, I had plenty of warning I d read Tatiana s review so I should have been well prepared.
Conventional wisdom states that when cousins get freaky, you re likely to end up with something like this image error takes some balls for a white woman to claim that she s the only one who can write diversity properly.
she wears her privilege like a pimp wears his furs.
but the best part tho is the bit where she says that when anyone else writes diverse characters, it s an agenda, which has no place in young adult literature, according to her.
no, for real.
that s literally what she said.
so fuck your needs, people this white lady s ragey pootling is all the diversity you or your kids will ever require.
s cool tho some of her best friends are black.