The Rest Of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
I have to confess I ended up abandoning this book as I just couldn’t get into it. On the surface was your normal YA novel – a group of teenagers dealing with the usual issues of unrequited love, confused sexuality and so on – but running alongside this was a slightly less ordinary tale of vampire invasions and a strange force currently kidnapping indie kids. It is very possible that this is a brilliant book but I just found it so hard to get into – and ultimately I just didn’t get it, but I feel like I was just missing something!
Sugar by Deirdre Riordan Hall
Sugar is a teenage girl who is vastly overweight, living with her dysfunctional family – her horrible brother Skunk and a mother who is so big she’s now confined to bed. She waits on them both hand and foot, yet they are hideous to her and she eats to make herself feel better. Life is bleak – and then in walks Even, the most perfectly lovely, sweet teenage boy you could hope to meet.
I did like this book to begin with. Sugar’s family was so horrible to her, yet she just takes it, and you could really feel her sadness and the way her family made her feel so hopeless that she couldn’t help binge-eating. But I did find that the book became repetitive, with little happening – until about ¾ of the way through when something so utterly unexpected happened that I was totally shocked – but I’m not sure it really helped the story. Also, I found Sugar’s submissive nature quite frustrating, and even at the end I didn’t feel she stood up to all the bad influences in her life quite as strongly as she should have.
This isn’t a bad book by any means – I found it very readable and overall I enjoyed it – but I did want a bit more from it, and found my interest had tailed off by the end.
Out of Order by Casey Lawrence
This is a short story that I received from NetGalley, and read in just a few hours. We start with our narrator Corey surviving a brutal incident just after prom, before we skip back in time to find out more about Corey and her three best friends. This is really a tale about friendship and sexuality – but there is also the murder element which gives the novel a ‘whodunnit’ sub-plot. But it was the sub-plot that I didn’t feel worked well, and I found the identity of the killer, and their motives, to be pretty unbelievable. The relationship between the girls was very sweet but the novel needed to be a bit longer, with more about the aftermath, to really work that well for me in the end.
Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
This was another YA novel that I didn’t enjoy as much as I’d hoped! The main character, Bridge, is cute and quirky, and spends most of her time hanging out with her friends Em and Tab. Into this set-up appears Sherm, who Bridge grows closer to throughout the novel as they work together on the production of the school’s talent show. Alongside this, there are short sections of the book told in the second-person narrative (which I have to admit I am not a fan of), and we have to try and fathom out who this mystery narrator is and how they fit into the main story.
This book would have worked better for me if it had focused more on Bridge, Sherm and their families – instead the other characters took over and there was never really a very strong or convincing plot. There were a few things going on here, but not enough of them were interesting enough to keep me very intrigued, and although I got through the book in just a few hours, I was never totally gripped by it. I liked the characters a lot, and I enjoyed the letters from Sherm to his grandad, but overall I felt it lacked focus and the subplots didn’t really come together or work for me.
I usually love young adult novels but I seem to have picked a bit of a hit-and-miss batch here! Feel free to recommend any others you think might restore my faith in the genre!!