Book Review: One by Sarah Crossan

October 1, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: One by Sarah CrossanOne by Sarah Crossan
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books on 27th August 2015
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 448
Grace and Tippi are twins – conjoined twins.

And their lives are about to change.

No longer able to afford homeschooling, they must venture into the world – a world of stares, sneers and cruelty. Will they find more than that at school? Can they find real friends? And what about love?

But what neither Grace or Tippi realises is that a heart-wrenching decision lies ahead. A decision that could tear them apart. One that will change their lives even more than they ever imagined…

From Carnegie Medal shortlisted author Sarah Crossan, this moving and beautifully crafted novel about identity, sisterhood and love ultimately asks one question: what does it mean to want and have a soulmate?

I want to rave about this book forever. How I’ve never read a book by Sarah Crossan before is a total mystery, and I’ll definitely be rectifying that soon, as One is an absolutely amazing, emotional read.

One is the first book I’ve read written in free verse, and it is such a beautiful style of writing. I doubt One would have had such an emotional impact on me if it had been written in regular prose, each word in One is written for a reason, it remains descriptive without using extra words just for the sake of it. I found I really got into Grace’s head a lot easier than I expected, and my emotions quickly became linked to the emotions I was reading on the page.

One is probably one of the most emotionally-charged books I’ve read in a very, very long time. As I just said, everything that Grace felt, I felt. Her despair, her hurt, her frustration all hit me very hard. This really surprised me, and it’s made me love Sarah Crossan for getting me to connect to this book and feel these emotions. One is a book that can’t just be read, it needs to be felt.

Everything about this book felt authentic to me, and it’s clear that a lot of research has gone into One. It really felt read, from how Tippi and Grace go about their daily lives to how the rest of society react to them. I liked how they weren’t accepted by the school (sounds strange, but bear with me), they were made to feel like outcasts, which I reckon wouldn’t be too far from the truth in the real world. I really admired Tippi’s integrity. She refuses to allow the media into her family’s lives until it’s absolutely necessary, until they have absolutely no other choice. And she still protected her family as best as she could. The documentary process was wonderful too – limits were made and respected, certain parts of Tippi and Grace’s journey weren’t touched, and that was the end of it. No ifs, buts or maybes.

The ending of One took a slight twist for me. I thought I knew how it would end, but Crossan threw in a tiny curveball and actually made reading the rest of the book quite painful for me. I can’t say anything else without giving things away, but the ending was, and still is, very raw to me.

One is an excellent book. There’s nothing left for me to say.

Book Review: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas

August 6, 2015

I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Because You’ll Never Meet Me by Leah ThomasBecause You'll Never Meet Me by Leah Thomas
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books on 2nd July 2015
Source: Netgalley
Pages: 344
In a stunning literary debut, two boys on opposite ends of the world begin an unlikely friendship that will change their lives forever.

Ollie and Moritz are best friends, but they can never meet. Ollie is allergic to electricity. Contact with it causes debilitating seizures. Moritz’s weak heart is kept pumping by an electronic pacemaker. If they ever did meet, Ollie would seize. But Moritz would die without his pacemaker. Both hermits from society, the boys develop a fierce bond through letters that become a lifeline during dark times—as Ollie loses his only friend, Liz, to the normalcy of high school and Moritz deals with a bully set on destroying him.

A story of impossible friendship and hope under strange circumstances, this debut is powerful, dark and humorous in equal measure. These extraordinary voices bring readers into the hearts and minds of two special boys who, like many teens, are just waiting for their moment to shine.

I’m just going to start this off by saying that this is one of my favourite books of 2015. It needs to be said. Leah Thomas has totally blown me away with this stunning book. I know there’s been some mixed reviews on Goodreads, and that made me a little apprehensive to pick it up because this has been one of my most anticipated reads of this year, but it definitely did not disappoint.

Because You’ll Never Meet Me is told in letters between Ollie and Moritz, two boys who society deem as freaks. Ollie is 14, although I found this hard to remember as he is so switched on and so smart. And he’s allergic to electricity, being close to it can send him spiralling into a life threatening seizure. This isn’t just epilepsy, it’s so much more dangerous. He lives in a log cabin with his mother in the woods. And Moritz is 16, living in Germany with his father. He has a pacemaker fitted, meaning that he and Ollie will never, ever meet. There’s a lot more to Moritz, but I’m not going to share it, as you need to find out for yourself. And so they begin writing to one another. At first, the letters were awkward, with Ollie’s over-enthusiasm sharply contrasting Moritz’s condescendance, but then they suddenly, out of nowhere, become friends. Real, true friends. And it was so heartbreaking to keep reminding myself that they wouldn’t meet.

It almost felt like I was intruding on Ollie and Moritz’s privacy as the letters got so personal, with Ollie having to deal with his mum and the fact that Liz blamed him for something that wasn’t his fault, and Moritz having to deal with horrendous bullying. I’ll be honest, I didn’t like Liz. I thought she was truly awful to Ollie at times. The thing that bugged me the most was when she called Ollie selfish. Because yes, he was. But he didn’t know how to be anything else. He has interacted with a handful of people, he mainly occupies himself. Who wouldn’t be selfish!? Moritz overcame so much thanks to Ollie’s encouragement. He started off as this awful person who was so angry at the world to someone who found people to care for and he cared for them fiercely. He didn’t believe he deserved kindness and good things – but he did. And I’m so glad Ollie made him see that. They helped each other so much, and I loved their friendship.

The ending of Because You’ll Never Meet Me wasn’t my favourite, but I understand it. It was sad, yet hopeful, and made me wish for a bright future for both Ollie and Moritz. At times it wasn’t hugely realistic – but – that is somewhat explained by Moritz – he says himself that he could be overexaggerating. And parts of it were traumatising to read, but not that far from the truth in some awful world, I imagine.

I can only implore you to pick Because You’ll Never Meet Me up. It’s a touching story about friendship, and a stark reminder about how society treats those who aren’t seen as ‘normal’. I loved every page of this wonderful book, and cannot wait to get my own copy for my bookcase.

Book Review: Paper Towns by John Green

December 21, 2011

Book Review: Paper Towns by John GreenPaper Towns by John Green
Published by Bloomsbury Children's Books on 3rd May 2010
Source: Bought Physical Copy
Pages: 305
When Margo Roth Spiegelman beckons Quentin Jacobsen in the middle of the night—dressed like a ninja and plotting an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows her. Margo’s always planned extravagantly, and, until now, she’s always planned solo. After a lifetime of loving Margo from afar, things are finally looking up for Q . . . until day breaks and she has vanished. Always an enigma, Margo has now become a mystery. But there are clues. And they’re for Q.
I love John Green. I read Looking for Alaska nearly 2 years ago, and absolutely adored it. Then I read Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and adored it. And my friend Ruth, who is easily as big a John Green fan as I am, badgered me into picking up Paper Towns and reading it. I lost my copy, by accident, in our kitchen and then rediscovered it and took it away on holiday with me. And I sat, on a rainy day in Clearwater and read.
Allow me to say one thing, and one thing only: John Green is my contemporary king.
What worked for me: Everything. The writing style, the characters, the plot. I adored every single thing about this book. Everything just worked for me. Paper Towns was considerably funnier than Looking For Alaska, although the concept was incredibly similar. I can see why people draw similarities between Q and Miles and Margo and Alaska, their characters were similar, yet entirely different at the same time. The inclusion of the ‘clues’ that Margo had left for Q were excellent and very subtle. And the scenes with Ben, Radar, Lacey and Q in the minivan on their way to New York made me laugh out loud as I sat in the departure lounge waiting for my flight.
What didn’t work for me: Nothing. There wasn’t a single aspect of this book that I didn’t enjoy. Apart from the fact that the book ended.
This was easily one of the best books I’ve read this year, and I’m so excited for Green’s next book, The Fault in our Stars to come out next month!