27 May 2015

How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff

1145519Fifteen-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.

I like to read books which I know will be/ have been made into films, so when I found this book on a boot sale, I snapped it up. Film books are always good for a read, especially when I haven’t seen the film yet, as it was with this one.

I honestly am not sure what to make of this book though, and so really don’t know why it was made into a film. If I am being truthful (which I am, because this is a review and there would be no point to me not being truthful), I thought it was a little bit boring. I had heard that the book was about a futuristic UK trapped in a war, and yet this book was full of teenagers doing not much. Yes, there was a war on, but it didn’t touch the characters in the way that perhaps it should have. They were far too sheltered, far too free from the fighting, like they were living in a dreamland and the war was too far away, when in reality, it was on their doorstep. Now, I have to say that I am too young to have lived in the middle of a war zone, so I have no idea how it would feel, but I think even then I would feel more scared and alone than the main character, Daisy, did.

Another boring aspect was that I don’t think that characters were really used to their full potential. Daisy was a bit of nothing character, and sometimes her thoughts are just plain tedious to read through. I don’t think I cared about her at all. The two boys who had interesting psychic abilities were left in the middle of the book, not to appear again until the end. Those abilities could have been utilised amazingly, but instead they were not used at all.

There was so much potential in this book, with the war, the psychic boys, the forbidden romance (which I couldn’t really get a handle on, it was just... wrong, to me). All of it went completely unaddressed, with no complications coming from any of it apart from being split from each-other, not having much to eat and witnessing a couple of horrible wartime things.

OK, it wasn’t all bad. You were completely and utterly in Daisy’s shoes, which meant that the imagery was perfect. You could literally see and feel as she did. It showed the relationships of the characters really well, so we understood how Daisy felt about Piper and the boys. It was subtle, not over the top at all.

This book was not as good as the hype led me to believe. It is definitely for New Adult readers who like relationship-driven plots and family saga. I, however, found it lacking in plot as not much action took place, and I really didn’t bond with the protagonist. The first half really didn’t capture my attention and the ending was slow, with the only real interest happening about two thirds through the book. Saying all of this, it won’t put me off watching the film at some point. I can imagine that things might have been done to keep up the pace.