Title: How I Live Now
Author: Meg Rosoff
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia
Summary: “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 enemy.
As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more 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 way.” ~from Goodreads.com
I’m really not sure how I feel about this book. I had heard a lot about it around tumblr primarily and on Goodreads and because I can’t resist a book with a lot of buzz or any dystopia whatsoever I went ahead and bought it on a whim. I have a LOT of conflicted feelings about it though.
First and foremost let’s start with the writing. It’s almost a stream of consciousness style which I found kind of interesting just because it’s not done very often. That style also made the story move very, very quickly. It’s a short book to begin with, but this was definitely a book that you could finish within a day and still have time to start a new one. One thing that sort of irritated me though was the lack of quotation marks around dialogue. It just made it very jarring and a lot of the time I had to re-read portions to differentiate a) who was speaking, b) if anyone was actually speaking, or c) if it was the narrator’s thoughts. It just made it a little confusing and frustrating to read.
We got flyers in with our food saying to boil all our water and Be Extra Careful When Handling Knives, Tools or Firearms Because Minor Injuries Could Lead to Infection and Death. Which struck me as extremely amusing given that we’re supposedly in the middle of a war, which usually has the same effect. -pg 55
Secondly, the character Daisy (er…Elizabeth). She wasn’t a character that I connected with fully. I think maybe it’s that there was less of a backstory with her and so I didn’t really get to know her character that well. There were a lot of questions I had about her that were left either unanswered or so subtely answered that I almost missed them. For instance, she’s basically anorexic, and it’s hinted at that she’s gone into institutions or seen psychiatrists for it but then there’s nothing that’s ever really gone into detail about and it just kind of goes from “I don’t eat” to “I have to eat to survive in this war” and it was never explained why or what was going on back in Manhattan or anything. It’s not like I wanted it to come up and slap me in the face, but I felt like I would have connected more with Daisy if I had had things explained a little more. Another thing that got to me was the fact that Daisy fell in love with her cousin. Not even a distant cousin. A first cousin. I just found that really uncomfortable.
The whole idea of the war however I felt was interesting and that’s what kind of kept me reading. But again, it wasn’t anything that was ever really explained. On the one hand, I do get that because it made the book a little more realistic. It gave it a realistic scariness, a “this could happen to you” feel. The thing though was that even though dystopia is inherently bleak (take a look at The Hunger Games) I found this book almost too depressing. I just felt like there was no hope whatsoever. Usually in other dystopia books there is something that’s hopeful. Some small glimmer of it. I just couldn’t find that in this book. Even at the end I just felt like it was a “well this is how life is now I guess.”
I suppose I feel that while this book was interesting, and it really makes you sit up and think about things, it was very hard for me to get over the things that I found uncomfortable or dark. I felt like it was almost too bleak, and there weren’t any characters that I really connected with, and the romance subplot was just too uncomfortable for me. It was an interesting read, but it’s definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea.
My rating: ★★★