How I live now – Meg Rosoff
Post Five of the Six Week challenge, well this is going well isn’t it? I’ve so far actually managed to review everything that I’ve read and mostly, they’ve all been good reviews, well, this is to be encouraged.
I hadn’t heard of How I live now until I saw the trailer when I went to see Girl Most Likely. (Which was amazing by the way – Darren Criss took his shirt off. OMG.) I found myself being really intrigued by the How I Live Now trailer, the story sounded amazing so I made it my mission to track it down.
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.
This was a bit strange to start with, it took me a while to get into it. It reads a little bit like a 12 year old’s English project, you know the ones, the one when they have to tell you all about what they did that summer and it’s all like and then we went to the park and I had a lie down because I was tired but then I woke up in time to see the sunset and that was cool.
I found myself thinking, I am really not going to enjoy this, but then when I got used to the stream of conscious style, I started to really get into it, it was a great way of really getting to know Daisy and it added to the elusiveness of the war effort because you only really know as much as Daisy knows. Having said that, the run on prose was a bit hard to get my head around. I like punctuation ok, but I guess it did add to Daisy’s character.
While we’re on the subject of Daisy’s character, I kind of hated her, she was so self obsessed but I guess, I’d be pretty self obsessed until my house got taken over by the army and I was sent off to live somewhere strange. She spent so long moaning about her step mother (even thought we have no idea why she was so evil) that it was hard to believe that there was even a war on she seemed to care so little about anything that didn’t directly involve her. If I knew her, I’d probably have to slap her. Seriously, I spent most of my time doing this:
I just wanted her to get her shit together and get a sense of priority. I did quite like the fact that she had some sort of implicit eating disorder, most stories about teens suffering with Anorexia have characters that are nothing but their eating disorder. Daisy at least had more of a personality than just the fact that she didn’t eat.
The incest thing was a little odd, I feel a bit weird about being ok with Daisy and Edmond’s relationship seeing as how they are cousins and all. But at the same time, we saw so little of their relationship because the whole story was told as though Daisy was just sat telling you about what happened to her during the war and well, when you’re telling a story, you don’t really stop to focus on one aspect. So, the lack of a build up with their relationship makes sense, but it wasn’t really very satisfactory for me as a reader.
Also, whilst we’re talking about Edmond, is no one else concerned that at fourteen he doesn’t go to school, smokes and is bonking his cousin? Is that not cause for concern for anyone else, cos I’m pretty darn worried about him!
I’ve read a lot of reviews of this where people were disgusted by how explicit it was – I have to say, based on those reviews, I was thinking there was going to be graphic descriptions of war, sex and self starvation. There are a few frightening scenes, but that’s what you expect from a novel about war. As for the other things, there is next to no mention of them. Daisy almost randomly tells us that she and Edmond are now intimately involved, it’s done very off hand, because she’s just summing up how she lives now. So, if you were thinking of maybe avoiding this based on what you’ve heard about eating disorders and incest, you don’t have to worry, this is not going to give you any nightmares.
Tomorrow, When the War Began did the whole unexpected war breaking out by an unknown enemy, kids lost in the wilderness thing a lot better, but it wasn’t a bad read. I think i’ll enjoy the film a bit more though, I think the story and the horrors of war might come across a bit better on screen.