Showing posts with label unreliable narrator. Show all posts
Showing posts with label unreliable narrator. Show all posts

Sunday, January 8, 2017

[Review] The One Memory of Flora Banks - Emily Barr: No Short Term Memory and Romanticization

In THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS, Flora has no short term memory but when she kisses her best friend's boyfriend, the memory somehow seems to stick.

What intrigued me: I love the movie Memento.

Compelling story and interesting concept

THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS is unlike anything I've ever read. Barr uses the premise cleverly to establish a compelling story. In some parts it gets a little repetitive because Flora constantly needs to be reminded of basic info about herself. Paired with the writing that feels very Middle Grade, it's certainly not the right pick for everyone.

What I cherished the most about THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS is that each scene works as a standalone. You could basically start reading anywhere and still have no issue following the story. The unreliable narration aspect is surely the most enjoyable and unique thing about this novel.

But at the end of the day I just have tremendous problems with the story that I just cannot overlook. I would've loved THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS if it wouldn't venture into the dangerous territory of romanticization. Had the memory just been something else. Sigh.

Insensitive and romanticizing

As someone with a chronic illness that does affect their memory, I just have to make remarks about the problematicness of this narrative. The whole premise of Flora remembering nothing since the accident that left her without a short term memory but then suddenly falling in love with a boy and getting cured...? Oh hell no. 

Flora even says this herself that Drake's kiss "healed" her brain. This is exactly where THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS ventures into difficult and problematic territory. I stopped identifying with Flora's story the second it became about the boy. Barr deeply romanticizes her illness, suggesting that love is all she needs to be "normal". Being neurotypical is the desired goal here and THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS more than just once clearly states that Flora's illness is something that has to be overcome and a hinderance. While I understand that she thinks like this to some degree, Barr doesn't try to open a dialogue about this.

Flora is constantly portrayed as a weird outsider that has no chance of ever being like her peers. The antagonist of the story is Flora's illness. And this is just so damaging, so unnecessary. THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS uses her illness as a gimmick to tell an ~edgy~ story instead of even remotely considering that there are people out there who are affected with similar illnesses. It's insensitive. Very much unapologetically so and I just can't condone this, I just can't ignore all this and rate this based on the entertainment factor. Chronically ill people are not your gimmick. We are not your edgy premise.



Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

THE ONE MEMORY OF FLORA BANKS isn't a story for chronically-ill people or anyone who struggles with serious memory problems. At no point does it try to give representation to sick people - it only wants to give healthy people an edgy premise to be entertained by. I found it very insensitive and offensive as someone with serious memory problems due to chronic illness. Can we just stop pretending falling in love cures all illnesses?



Additional Info

Published: 12th January 2017
Pages: 320
Publisher: Penguin
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9780141368511

Synopsis:
"Seventeen-year-old Flora Banks has no short-term memory. Her mind resets itself several times a day, and has since the age of ten, when the tumor that was removed from Flora’s brain took with it her ability to make new memories. That is, until she kisses Drake, her best friend's boyfriend, the night before he leaves town. Miraculously, this one memory breaks through Flora's fractured mind, and sticks. Flora is convinced that Drake is responsible for restoring her memory and making her whole again. So when an encouraging email from Drake suggests she meet him on the other side of the world, Flora knows with certainty that this is the first step toward reclaiming her life.

With little more than the words "be brave" inked into her skin, and written reminders of who she is and why her memory is so limited, Flora sets off on an impossible journey to Svalbard, Norway—the land of the midnight sun—determined to find Drake. But from the moment she arrives in the arctic, nothing is quite as it seems, and Flora must "be brave" if she is ever to learn the truth about herself, and to make it safely home."(Source: Goodreads)



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Thursday, May 19, 2016

[Review] Wink Poppy Midnight - April Genevieve Tucholke: Fairytales, Liars, and Tarot Cards




In WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT, a boy is torn between the mean, conceited girl he loved all his life and the quirky carefree new girl next door that makes life a fairy tale.

What intrigued me: The weird title. It's really weird, I had to find out what this is about.

Poetic and very weird

I would've never in a million years expected to end up being so infatuated with this book. WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT is just your average contemporary with a love triangle. Sounds not so exciting, right? But April Genevieve Tucholke wrote this and you bet she put her stamp on it.

The writing is heavenly, beautifully poetic, but just that right amount that's balancing the tightrope between flowery and the magic of a children's book. It reads so easily, many reviewers compare this story to reading fairytales and it's just true. Tucholke writes these three POVs so effortlessly, and all three characters, Wink, Poppy, and Midnight have such strong voices that I'm just absolutely in awe. This isn't a novel, this reads like a poem in prose instead of verse.

Despite only being 250 pages, this is extremely dense reading and as much as I was immersed with the story and wanted to continue - don't binge this. Every sentence holds so much meaning in this that I'm just... how. How can she write like this. 

Truly, 100% unique - but there's a catch.

The big mystery isn't really the main focus until halfway into the book and I can hardly talk about the plot without spoiling anything. WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT is a roller coaster of emotions, of crazy things and fairy tales and monsters and heroes. It's strange, unlike anything I've ever read, but so, so, so captivating and wonderful. 
It's very reminiscent of a Southern-inspired fairytale, it sort of reads like a cross between BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE with a side of the magic from THE RAVEN BOYS.

The one thing that negates all of the wonderful feelings this book gave me is that WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT contains a racial slur in the beginning (g*psy). It's never addressed and used casually. This unaccpetable and has no place in a book for teens. We need to speak up about books who make use of that kind of language. I definitely enjoyed WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT but finding this slur definitely turns my reading experience sour. 

Rating:

  ★★★☆



Overall: Do I Recommend?

WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT is a magically poetic book that magical realism lovers and contemporary fans will enjoy. It combines the two flawlessly without being neither one nor the other. However, racial slurs are not okay and including them in your books is unacceptable.


Additional Info

Published: March 22nd 2016
Pages: 247
Publisher: Dial Books
Genre: YA / Contemporary
ISBN: 9780803740488

Synopsis:
"Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying."(Source: Goodreads)


Have you read WINK POPPY MIDNIGHT?

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Monday, April 11, 2016

[Review] Follow Me Back - Nicci Cloke: Unreliable Narrators, Disappearances, and Douchebags




In FOLLOW ME BACK, Aidan's classmate Lizzie disappears. When he gets approached by her best friend Marnie, they start investigating her disappearance.

What intrigued me: The cover promises an interesting mystery involving social media.

Why should we care?

FOLLOW ME BACK really isn't what it promises to be. I got teased by the cover and the premise surrounding the disappearance. Sadly, there isn't much to this book aside from this. The biggest problem this novel has is that there is no reason for the reader to care about Lizzie. GONE GIRL for example, works with a similar premise but makes sure to add little snippets to familiarize the reader with the disappeared character and makes sure that we care. I just missed that with FOLLOW ME BACK.

Like this, I wasn't interested in solving the mystery around Lizzie's disappearance and surely didn't root for Aidan either. The mere fact that this is advertised as being a novel including an unreliable narrator makes FOLLOW ME BACK insanely predictable, cliche, and boring. We know Aidan has something to do with it from the start, and therefore the plot twists don't come as a shock. The mundane scenes we have to go through for world establishing aren't helpful either. FOLLOW ME BACK really wants to be a thriller, but is only a mediocre mystery with very predictably acting, unlikable characters.

Social media is terrible and we're all going to die

FOLLOW ME BACK has a lot of potential. If I look over the fact that it's impossible to care for Lizzie, and that the mystery isn't really much of one - Aidan is a terrible main character. He hardly has any personality and frequently slut-shames and judges girls by their appearance, which I'm so, so, so tired of reading about. The whole story doesn't read like it's written from Aidan's perspective, really, because the narration is really shallow and he doesn't have a distinctive, memorable voice.

For being a book with a cover that insinuates having roots in social media, most of the novel just desperately tries to tell us how bad social media is and how dangerous and shallow it all is. I'm just not a fan of it. It reads like Cloke is talking down to her audience, seeming patronizing, and I cannot stand that. In the age of technology, social media is just necessary - this pseudo cautionary tale just doesn't work. Especially because none of the characters in FOLLOW ME BACK actually talk real teenagers do online. I was expecting more than just the occasional lazy conversation, more illustrations, more "following" and less "social media is bad and you're literally going to die if you use it."


Rating:

☆☆

 



Overall: Do I Recommend?

FOLLOW ME BACK has the potential to be an interesting novel about a disappearance, much like Jennifer L. Armentrout's DON'T LOOK BACK, but really didn't grip me.


Additional Info

Published: February 4th 2016
Pages: 288
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genre: YA / Thriller
ISBN: 9781471405082

Synopsis:
"A thrilling read, for fans of Gone Girl and We Were Liars.

There was no sign of a struggle, they whisper to each other. She took her phone but left her laptop behind.
Apparently, she'd met someone online, they write to each other in class, phones buzzing.
She ran away. She was taken.

The first time Aiden Kendrick hears about Lizzie Summersall's disappearance is when the police appear at his front door. He and Lizzie used to be friends; they aren't anymore. And when Aiden finds out that Lizzie had been talking to strangers on Facebook; that the police think she went to meet one of them, he begins to wonder how well he ever really knew her, and Aiden doesn't know it yet, but with Lizzie's disappearance his life is about to take a twisted and desperate turn.
 "(Source: Goodreads)

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