Showing posts with label photographs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label photographs. Show all posts

Saturday, March 11, 2017

[Review] Letters to the Lost - Brigid Kemmerer: Grief and Photography

In LETTERS TO THE LOST, Declan finds the letter Juliet writes to her late mom at the cemetery and they become unlikely pen pals.

What intrigued me: I've been in the mood for more mixed format books.

Super sad and depressing

LETTERS TO THE LOST is a very heartbreaking book. Kemmerer showcases her advanced skills through giving this book a so, so, so, so depressingly sad tone. This wasn't really my thing - I don't like books that deal majorly with grief, but that doesn't mean LETTERS TO THE LOST is a bad book and you shouldn't pick it up. Kemmerer is an extremely talented writer, this story flows beautifully, if very slowly paced, and the prose is breathtaking. The dual POV is executed wonderfully with the protagonists Declan and Juliet having two very distinct voices.

The back story, however? I struggled, I gotta admit. LETTERS TO THE LOST is too over the top for me, full of cliches, domestic abuse, melodrama, and I just don't like these types of books. Both Declan and Juliet do nothing but indulge in their sadness and it's not varied enough to make for a compelling narrative for me. I couldn't swoon over their relationship or find any joy in following their stories because there's just nothing but dealing with grief in this. Again, very, very subjective.

Wildly Inappropriate Refugee Comparisons

LETTERS TO THE LOST starts every chapter with a letter from either Declan or Juliet. Very frequently Juliet describes pictures her photographer mom took to him, usually of suffering or starving children in the Middle East and comparing herself to them, saying she understands their pain because her mom died. And I just - no. It's even worse considering that these are pretty much the only relevant characters of color in the story. There's a black family that's mentioned in passing, but the only non-white representation in this comes in the form of starving refugee children. This is so wildly inappropriate and offensive that I'm honestly speechless. You'd have her describe a picture of a little brown girl that's on the brink of starvation and has a vulture circling around her, and Juliet will say, yes, I relate to this. Oh my god.

I... I don't even. It's not like these are integral to the plot, this is absolutely redundant and very much cheapens this story. I usually would've given this book three stars, despite it not being my thing at all, it's well-written and will entertain and delight a lot of people - but this specific aspect made me sick to my stomach. I've informed the publisher and will be adding the missing star and revising my review if this is changed in the final version.


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

LETTERS TO THE LOST is a very You've Got Mail kind of story mixed with grief and sadness. If you're looking for a love story like I was, you might not enjoy this. The extremely inappropriate comparisons to refugee children left a bitter taste in my mouth that severely impacted my reading experience as well.

Trigger warning: blood, (domestic) violence, abuse, guns, war



Additional Info

Published: April 6th 2017
Pages: 400
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9781408883525

Synopsis:
"Juliet Young has always written letters to her mother, a world-traveling photojournalist. Even after her mother’s death, she leaves letters at her grave. It’s the only way Juliet can cope. 

Declan Murphy isn’t the sort of guy you want to cross. In the midst of his court-ordered community service at the local cemetery, he’s trying to escape the demons of his past. 

When Declan reads a haunting letter left beside a grave, he can't resist writing back. Soon, he’s opening up to a perfect stranger, and their connection is immediate. But neither of them knows that they're not actually strangers. When real life at school interferes with their secret life of letters, Juliet and Declan discover truths that might tear them apart. This emotional, compulsively-readable romance will sweep everyone off their feet. "
(Source: Goodreads)



What's your favorite mixed format book?

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Monday, June 20, 2016

[Review] Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children (#1) - Ransom Riggs: Creepy Photographs and Creepy Kids


In MISS PEREGRINE'S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN, Jacob, who grew up with his late grandfather's stories about an orphanage full of supernaturally gifted WWII refugees, is following his footsteps and trying to investigate whether any of the stories are true.

What intrigued me: I love scary things and creepy photographs.




This novel lives from its illustrations

The initial idea comes from actual creepy photographs taken in the past. Riggs constructed the narrative using them as a base and the result is phenomenal. It's super interesting to read about these special children and explore their world. However, I was under the impression that this would be just as scary as the pictures look.

Essentially, this is X-men for elementary school children. I never came under the impression that I'm reading YA, mainly because the characters all appear to be a lot younger than they actually are. There's a lot of antiquated language going on and if that kind of thing bothers you, you may not enjoy this novel. Sometimes I almost felt like the characters, especially the adults, speak as if they were talking to little kids. Generally I would even go as far as to say this is a Middle Grade read. I was hoping for more scary scenes, more things that make my skin crawl. However the novel absolutely works as it is and is quite interesting, despite not being what I expected it to be.

So much introduction

The novel takes an absolutely ridiculous time to take off. By the time Jacob gets to the orphanage, you're already halfway through. There is so much introduction that could've just as well been omitted and I felt absolutely cheated of my time by even bothering with the first 100 pages. All the reasons why Jacob comes to the orphanage in the first place and how his grandfather connects to it could have just been revealed later on instead of going through pages and pages of therapy sessions, nightmares, and teenage angst.

But when the novel introduces the peculiar children, I was immersed. I didn't want to put this down. I was glued to the pages, sucking up every bit of information and really, really wanting to find out how it all gets resolved. It gets better along the way and feels like Riggs mastered the character voices as the novel progresses. 


Rating:

★★☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

If you're looking for horror, this isn't it. It's more of a heart-warming story about a bunch of creepy little kids, and it's definitely worth the read. If you don't mind Middle Grade. This doesn't read like regular YA. The pacing issues threw me off a little, but I recommend that you give it a try and push through!



Additional Info

Published: 7th June 2011
Pages: 352
Publisher: Quirk
Genre: YA / Horror

Synopsis:
"A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of curious photographs.

A horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.(Source: Goodreads)

Have you read any scary books lately?

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