Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Review: Hello, Goodbye and Everything In Between




Hello, Goodbye and Everything in Between is a book about uncertain futures. 

Look at me, summing up a book in a single sentence. Is this a phenomena that has never been seen before? Perhaps. 
Anyway, that’s what it is. & the premise is actually pretty clever. The book takes place over a single night. The last night Claire and Aiden have together before they leave for college as they decide whether they should break up or do the whole long distance thing. That’s what drew me to it, that it’s a little bit different, that this is a whole novel centred around Just One Night. I am always all about the books that take a step away from convention.

It’s the first of Jennifer E Smith’s books that I’ve read, FYI.  I’ve heard a load of stuff about The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight, although I’ve not actually read it and that along with the general buzz that surrounded HGaEiB was more than enough to make me curl up under a blanket with some beef Space Raiders and give it a go.

I liked it. It’s a story with a lot of heart and the romance is just the right level of sweet and it’s honest and relevant.

I never went away to university. I never went to university at all. I got a job at 18 and it’s the same job I have now and it’s funny because I felt like people were disappointed and even now people seem surprised when they find out that I don’t have a degree and sometimes I feel a bit weird even admitting it. What’s that about. It was the right choice for me though, and I’m a director now of the company I started working for when everybody else set off for uni and so you know, I reckon I did ok. & I have no idea why I have gone off on that tangent. What was the point I was trying to make? Oh,that’s it. Relatability and uncertain futures and how that’s the same for pretty much everyone whatever your life might look like on the cusp of adulthood. Whilst I didn’t have to make any of the choices Aiden and Claire made and whilst the direction my own life took meant that I felt a little bit distant from them and didn’t understand all of their reasons or thought processes, I bet there’s teenagers all over the place that find something they can relate to in Claire and Aiden’s story. Even if they’re not faced with an LDR themselves the whole growing up and moving on and not being entirely sure what your future looks like, or even what you want it to look like, well, it happens to us all. & whilst I am all about the fantasy and the dystopia and the out-of-this world stuffs right now (always) sometimes you just need a book that looks like your life, that makes you feel like what’s going on in your head isn’t that messed up at all. It’s good sometimes to be able to identify, especially when you’re a teenager and you find yourself quite easily feeliong isolated. This book hits that spot.

I love the idea of reading a goodbye love story rather than a hello and watching Aiden and Claire retrace their relationship was mostly sweet, although to be perfectly honest it was also kind of depressing. I felt like I knew exactly what decision they were going to make from chapter one (and no, I’m not going to tell you if I was right because HELLO ALMIGHTY SPOILER) and because I thought I had it all figured out, it felt like that walk down memory lane you do after you’ve had your heart broken rather than an optimistic look for reasons to make it work. & that just made me feel a little bit depressed. Just a little bit.  Also Claire bugged me a small amount, I mean not loads,  but enough to stop me engaging fully with the book or really sympathising with her at all. Which, well, that’s always kind of a problem, isn’t it? I actually liked the secondary characters more than I liked either Claire or Aiden, Again, kind of problematic.

When Helen and I went with our Mum’s to see Priscilla, Queen of the Desert in London a few years ago, Helen’s mum said as we left the theatre that ‘the best bit of that show was the end.’ I’m saying the same thing here, not for the same reason as Helen’s Mum who really didn’t enjoy Priscilla at all (I did like this book) but because it kind of was. The way the ends all tied together neatly, the way the story developed and came together all packed up and wrapped nicely in a bow. I liked that. It ended how I wanted it to end and that made me happy.

This is a nice book and it’s an easy book and it’s a book that people are mostly going to like I think, it’s good.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Review: Everything, Everything.



Sometimes I reread my favorite books from back to front. I start with the last chapter and read backward until I get to the beginning. When you read this way, characters go from hope to despair, from self-knowledge to doubt. In love stories, couples start out as lovers and end as strangers. Coming-of-age books become stories of losing your way. Your favorite characters come back to life


At some point I think I’m going to do a post about why I (aged 32 and a half years) still love a good YA novel so hard. At some point. Not now though, because now I still have a backlog of reviews to post and I haven’t done a book haul or a post about what’s coming up in ages and I need to get back in the game. The point is, though, is that I do love a good YA novel so hard and it’s relevant now because I want to talk about Nicola Yoon’s Everything, Everything. Which, FYI, I liked.


It’s about, in a nutshell, a girl who is allergic to the world and as such hasn’t left her house for seventeen years (and seriously how terrible and awful would that be.) The only people she ever sees are her Mum, and her nurse. And then some people move in next door. A family with a son who’s a bit of a hottie and there it is: teen love story with a twist. & yeah ok it is a little bit instalove, but go with it: it gets better, I promise and the slow build of this first love after that is delicious.


It's a hard concept to hold on to--the idea that there was a time before us. A time before time.

In the beginning there was nothing. And then there was everything.


And it’s kind of excellent. It’s light-hearted and funny and some of the writing is just out of this world gorgeous. I made so many notes when I was reading this, so many ‘I NEED TO QUOTE THAT’s’ you have no idea, because I love those sentences that make you want to roll around in delight and kick your feet and do a bit of squealing, and I find I get that more in young adult books actually than anyplace else: the richness of description, the relatability (blogger tells me that's not a word. I DON'T CARE), the use of words that’s powerful enough to make me goosebumpy. I love it. So, the writing is good. Italics good. & the characters (Madeleine’s Mum aside) are excellent and well rounded and diverse (it bugs me that I still feel like I have to give kudos for an African-American main character because really that so should not be a thing. But it is. & so hats off to you Nicola Yoon.) and flawed: Madeleine is selfish and she wants, she wants so badly all of the time and I love that we got to see that, that she’s painted as this very real teenage girl who is quite rightly pissed off at the hand she’s been dealt rather than the kind of Pollyanna character that you sometimes want to slap in the face.


Wanting just leads to more wanting. There’s no end to desire.



It went a bit fast at the end, which bugged me because that’s a thing that bugs me. Sorry. It’s so annoying though isn’t it, when you’re loving a book and you’re totally engrossed and you can’t turn the pages fast enough and you want to know every. little. thing. And then BAM! The end. I had so many feelings about the way this ended. I mean, we’re not talking One Day levels of rage here, but more a big old sigh because why? Why give me this story that sucked me in and these kids that I fell in love with and then Do The Thing and then after that fast-forward to an unsatisfying end so quickly I felt dizzy. S’just not fair.  I also figured out what was going to happen pretty early on, so it maybe loses marks for predictability too.

I feel though, that if a copy of this book crosses your path you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t give it a read. Go forth.