Set on a remote island off the coast of Scotland, The Last of Us is the story of six children who have survived some kind of plague that took the lives of their parents and the other islanders.
All communication with the outside world has been lost. With no adults to rely on, the children must use their individual skills and imaginations to survive. Each new day involves searching for supplies — the food, water and medicines that they need to keep going. All of the children have lost their parents — either through death or through a parent being absent for one reason or another. Each is troubled by this loss and their grief influences their behaviour in different ways. Memory is important to all of them and they collaborate to preserve what they can remember of the past. They also keep to routines that help them maintain social order and respect the dead.
I really liked this book and am curious what other readers think. Reviews seem to be mixed with some readers thinking that the narrator’s voice is occasionally too adult for an eight-year old child. To be honest, I didn’t particularly notice this — perhaps because I was so caught up in the storytelling that it didn’t bother me.
Overall, The Last of Us held my attention from the first page to the end. So, for what it’s worth, I found Rob Ewing’s book an engrossing read and am happy to give it the thumbs up. I think young adult readers in particular might like it. In terms of comparison with other novels, it reminded me of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road and William Golding’s The Lord of the Flies.
[Disclosure: I received an advance review copy]
Like Lockhart’s earlier work, Genuine Fraud explore themes of privilege, truth and lies.
In an author’s note, E Lockhart lists her sources of inspiration for Genuine Fraud. They include Victorian orphan stories, con artist tales and narratives of class mobility. She talks about stories told backwards and tales of female ambition. Much of this filters through into Genuine Fraud, the story of Jule West-Williams, a young con woman who exploits friendships for personal gain.
Jule is rather like the orphans in Dickens who engage in crime out of necessity. She sees herself as an action hero, physically and mentally strong yet she’s also vulnerable, living on her wits and in constant danger of being uncovered as a fraud.
Like Lockhart’s earlier novel, We Were Liars, Genuine Fraud explores themes of privilege, truth and lies. It’s a story of good and evil, privilege and want, elite and envy. It’s dark and twisty — a tale of self-invention and self-deception. It’s a fast and engaging read.
Jule spends a lot of time worrying about her origin story. She struggles between what she tells herself and what she tells others. Is she disturbed or is she simply dangerous? That’s the question you’ll ask yourself if you decide to read Genuine Fraud.
Disclosure: The publisher provided a review copy via Netgalley.
Not being a fan of chick lit, I hadn’t read Cecilia Ahern until her publisher sent me a review copy of Flawed.
It arrived just days after I had watched Love, Rosie — the movie based on Ahern’s Where Rainbows End. I’d also heard about Ahern on an Irish radio programme that suggested her books were worth reading. So, I was sufficiently interested to give Flawed a go. Then, I discovered that my mother and my niece (85 and 25) are Ahern fans!
Flawed is a Young Adult novel. It’s about a teenager growing up in a judgmental society where people are expected to be perfect. Breaking the rules incurs punishments like branding and being shunned by society.
Celestine North, the teenager and heroine of this novel, is perfect until she breaks the rules and takes a stand against the judgemental wing of society.
The idea behind Flawed is interesting in light of the various public interest investigations that have taken place in Ireland. However, the characters lack depth — particularly in the earlier part of the novel — making it a somewhat frustrating read. Later, the pace picks up and there are hints of a love triangle that may add interest to the story.
Flawed comes to a somewhat abrupt end with the story to be continued in a sequel called Perfect, due to be published in 2017.
Flawed by Cecilia Ahern is published by Harper Collins. [Disclosure: An advance review copy was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review].