Tag Archives: makes you think

Every Exquisite Thing, by Matthew Quick

10 May

29325757Format: e-ARC, 272 pages

Publisher: Hachette Australia

To Be Published: May 31, 2016

ISBN: 9781472229557

Genre: Teens & YA

Back cover blurb: From the bestselling author of The Silver Linings Playbook comes a heartfelt and unexpected novel in the vein of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

Nanette O’Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hard-working student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper—the mysterious, out-of-print cult-classic—the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young but troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that sometimes rebellion comes at a high price.

A celebration of the self and the formidable power of story, Every Exquisite Thing is Matthew Quick at his finest.

My review: I hadn’t read anything by Quick before, but really enjoyed the Silver Linings Playbook movie so was keen to get my hands on an ARC. This started off a bit like The Fault in Our Stars without the cancer: teen reads book, becomes obsessive about it, and tracks down author, who doesn’t ever want to talk about it again. He does, however, encourage Nanette to question her life, in particular why she plays soccer – a game she is good at but doesn’t particularly enjoy. Like the hero in his book, she decides to quit, and thus begins a journey of – ultimately – isolation and loneliness. She meets Alex, another fan of the book, who writes poetry and becomes her boyfriend, but his choices have tragic results and leave Nanette pretty much on her own.

I enjoyed this book a lot until Part Two when Nanette became more isolated. While I appreciated what Quick was trying to do, portraying a privileged girl questioning her blind acceptance of her parents’ choices for her, as a parent myself I was just concerned for her mental health. I didn’t much like her once she started talking in the third person, and her experiment with the cool kids had me horrified. The themes here are serious and not for younger readers; there is teen pregnancy and drinking, bullying, death, and some quite strong language. There is also Pat Benatar, so it’s not all bad. Overall, not quite what I was expecting – no swoony boys – but quite a lot to think about.

***Disclaimer: This e-ARC was provided to me by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Huge thanks to them. ***

My rating: 4/5





Shades of Grey, by Jasper Fforde

20 May

Format: Trade paperback, 448 pages

Published: January 14, 2010

Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton

Back cover blurb:

Hundreds of years in the future, after the Something that Happened, the world is an alarmingly different place. Life is lived according to The Rulebook and social hierarchy is determined by your perception of colour. Eddie Russett is an above average Red who dreams of moving up the ladder by marriage to Constance Oxblood. Until he is sent to the Outer Fringes where he meets Jane — a lowly Grey with an uncontrollable temper and a desire to see him killed. For Eddie, it’s love at first sight. But his infatuation will lead him to discover that all is not as it seems in a world where everything that looks black and white is really shades of grey …If George Orwell had tripped over a paint pot or Douglas Adams favoured colour swatches instead of towels …neither of them would have come up with anything as eccentrically brilliant as Shades of Grey.

My review:

Jasper Fforde’s usual fare is more along the lines of far-fetched fiction, and I have loved all his previous works, so I began this believing it would be more of the same. I was wrong. This book is epic.

Set hundreds of years in the future, after the Something That Happened – no one knows exactly what – people can no longer see in full colour. What parts of the spectrum you can see determine your social standing, with Purples at the top and Greys – those who can see little or no colour – at the very bottom. Eddie Russett, a Red, is sent with his father to far-flung East Carmine after playing a joke on a Purple boy, and slowly he begins to discover how seriously restricted society has become because of the mysterious and ridiculous Rules. Along his journey he earns the ire of some prominent Yellows and falls in love with a Grey named Jane, who seems to know a bit more than anyone else about what’s really going on. For a start, she knows where all the spoons have gone…

Eddie is a fantastic fish-out-of-water with whom the reader can easily identify as he uncovers the secrets of his dystopia. Jane is kick-ass and smart, and the other village characters are all well-written and, dare I say, colourful. By the last page I was really horrified by the choice Eddie was faced with, and these twists set the story up nicely for two planned sequels.

Fforde has created a unique future which is complex, frightening and very funny. I can’t wait until the next book in the series, Painting by Numbers, comes out in 2013.

My rating: 5/5