Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness

I’ve been thoroughly addicted to one trilogy in particular for the past few months and I am going to go all enthusiastic at you, internet, so be ready for this. It’s a young adult trilogy and I feel absolutely no shame in admitting it because it’s bloody fantastic and I wish more adults would read it because it’s stupidly, brilliantly, explosively good. I’ve tried to read it as slowly as I could to savour the characters and the plot but it hasn’t felt like long enough. Oh you guys you guys YOU GUYS I am sitting here doing hearts with my hands at the screen in trying to put into words how much I’ve loved reading this.

Ladies and gentlemen, adults and young adults and everyone in between, I present to you:

My copies are white, but ho hum

My copies are white, but ho hum

The Chaos Walking trilogy.

You must have heard of this because lots of other people over the months have looked at me when I have mentioned this and done similar heart motions with their hands as we try to communicate our love for these books in a language that FAILS because we have no NOISE.* This is a thing, a thing that is popular and the winner of awards (but not nearly enough). I will now try to explain why I love this. I fail at this on the shop floor a lot because the concept’s a bit ?! but all the best concepts ARE a bit ?!, especially in the sci fi/fantastical/speculative fiction categories, so this should not put you off, no it should not!

The first book, The Knife Of Never Letting Go, has a terrible title but was one of the most excruciatingly brilliant reading experiences of my life because I usually hate present tense first person books but Mr. Patrick Ness did something genius with this and I fell in love with Todd and his totally realistic attitude that made him feel like a real person on the other side of the page. It’s oddly abrupt, the style that Ness uses for this trilogy, but it works and gives the story such a cinematic and exciting quality that it had me tearing through the book because oh my god they were in such danger and there were things happening, big horrible world-changing things

And at any moment –

Something terrible could happen –

Someone might get hurt –

And oh but you care for those characters** –

It’s an exhausting way to read a book, you know. Bloody awesome, if you’ll excuse my language, but exhausting. You feel like you’ve run all the way through those gut-wrenchingly tough battle scenes and emotional arguments with Todd and the others and it’s just so, so visceral and true and tangible and even though it should start having less impact the further through the trilogy you go, it doesn’t, because the tension remains racked up and you’re never quite sure who’s going to make it and who isn’t.

But what’s it about, I hear you ask? Here’s the blurb from Knife:

This is an unflinching novel about the impossible choices of growing up, by an award-winning writer. Imagine you’re the only boy in a town of men. And you can hear everything they think. And they can hear everything you think. Imagine you don’t fit in with their plans… Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man. But his town has been keeping secrets from him. Secrets that are going to force him to run…

Which, you know, doesn’t tell you much. Some of the joy of this series comes from the mystery of it, the whys and the wherefores and uncovering the secrets along with Todd and his marvellous, marvellous dog Manchee. So I shall not say more, but it’s wonderfully intricate and dark and as psychological as it is otherworldly (not supernatural, no). And it’s TOTALLY an adult-suitable book. TOTALLY. It fires me up something fierce that I can’t really stock it in my sci fi section in the shop, because it’s easily as strong as everything else there. I love the messages Ness has bound up with the characters and their choices and the relationships and it’s just so good I actually hugged the books when I finished them, yes I did.

I love it more than the Hunger Games books, which have adult covers and are sold in the general fiction section like the Harry Potter books. I love it a lot more. I cried with sadness and relief while reading Chaos Walking, not so much during the Hunger Games, although both deal with the cruelty of adults to children and their fellow living creatures so if you found the Hunger Games as addictive as I did, you will get on so well with Chaos Walking. It’s The Chrysalids meets The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn meets a whole new level of originality and freshness that just sets itself apart from so much else that’s out there.

Adults, read this, it is tremendous and if I’d read this as a child I feel like I would’ve been a better person.

And you know, the books are not perfect, but I have Strong Feelings in favour of Chaos Walking and this is totally not a review, this is something more like an enthusiastic hand-waving flail of delight from someone who has no vested interest in this, just a massive surge of affection for a trilogy that moved me so much it was like Ness was just tugging my heartstrings like an expert puppeteer. And now it’s over. I have no more of it to read. I want to start it for the first time again. Argh. ARGH.

 

So, yes. I quite enjoyed that.

 

*I am the Circle and the Circle is me.

**And animals. Boy colt? SUBMIT.

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Maureen Johnson’s ‘The Name Of The Star’

The Name of the Star (Shades of London, #1)The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The day Louisiana teenager Rory Deveaux arrives in London marks a memorable occasion. For Rory, it’s the start of a new life at a London boarding school. But for many, this will be remembered as the day a series of brutal murders broke out across the city, gruesome crimes mimicking the horrific Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888. 

Soon “Rippermania” takes hold of modern-day London, and the police are left with few leads and no witnesses. Except one. Rory spotted the man police now believe to be the prime suspect. But she is the only one who saw him. Even her roommate, who was with her at the time, didn’t notice the mysterious man. So why can only Rory see him? And more urgently, why has Rory become his next target? In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, full of suspense, humor, and romance, Rory will learn the truth about the secret ghost police of London and discover her own shocking abilities.

Aside from some slightly jarring scenes at the beginning involving the school (for one thing the school seems massively out-of-place and oddly run from the perspective of a Londoner who went to a similarly posh London school) this was a fantastic book that I ripped (sorry) through in ONE EVENING. It is great stuff. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good supernatural-tinged romp – though the central character feels oddly vague and insubstantial at times she is a marvellous vehicle for the reader and really comes into her own by the rather tense climax. I respected her and enjoyed her company by the end, and there’s no higher praise than that for a first person narrative.

I won’t rehash the plot, but suffice to say it isn’t a simple Jack the Ripper retelling, nor is it trying to give us a new view of the historical murders – it’s an original plot and concept using very popular tropes (the Ripper murders, the “otherness” of London, young adult genre, secret groups operating with the government) that still feels fresh, even to the point of freaking me out about the murders even after reading much more gory and bloody (and excellent) books like Alan Moore‘s From Hell and Kim Newman‘s Anno Dracula. A true testament to how, sometimes, less can be more. (Also I read this at night, when all of this is 200% freakier than during daylight hours, I know this through SCIENCE.)

I’d recommend this book to people who enjoy London in fiction, tense YA crime/thrillers, who enjoy Torchwood-like groups waging secret wars against the nasty unknown, or who simply want a solid, swift read that though it begins slowly and a bit oddly warms up tremendously once the (gory and unsettling (I feel a lack of sleep looming tonight)) murders begin. I’ve seen a few comments complaining about the ending, but I thought it was very well done and wrapped up a crackling, entertaining and at times spine-tingling read with a tantalizing suggestion of what Johnson has in her clearly devious and brilliant mind.

Can’t wait to read more.

Outpost by Adam Baker

I just managed to read Outpost by Adam Baker in less than four hours. It was like watching a proper horror film; the pace is quick and relentless and Baker has crafted a shocking and unsettling book that has, basically, creeped me the hell out.

The story opens with Jane, a suicidal Reverend stationed on an oil refinery platform in the Arctic, miles and miles from civilization. It’s a structure built for a thousand housing only fifteen – enough for a decent psychological thriller in and of itself, certainly, but then news filters through of a massive pandemic sweeping across the planet. How will they get home? Is “home” still there? How will they survive if they aren’t rescued? How will they keep hold of their sanity and humanity in the face of a gruesome apocalypse?

And what the hell is the pandemic anyway?

An easy read for people who enjoyed Justin Cronin’s The Passage or Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s The Strain, Outpost isn’t written to be a masterful work of literature. It’s cleverly, lightly written, with short tight sentences that crank up tension to a silly degree (I might be sleeping with the light on, cannot lie) interspersed with elegant descriptions of the barren, desolate landscape in which the characters are effectively trapped. It’s light on emotion but heavy on action. Everyone’s at risk, even if they’re a “viewpoint” character – and though the characters aren’t fully fleshed out there’s enough of a sense of them and the little details of their characters for the events to strike a chord. The horror is horrible, from maddening isolation to the events on the ship (ohmygodtheship) it doesn’t let up, jumping from set piece to set piece in a mad scrabble for life that makes for a thrilling ride.

Regarding the pandemic itself, Baker steers the narrative in a curious direction that on one level didn’t feel required, but on another was fascinating. I won’t go into details but the basic set up is a gloriously strong setting for a horror, and I’m not entirely sure that it needed the extra edge of sci-fi weirdness. On the other hand it’s a very sharp edge of sci-fi weirdness that I found really intriguing, so although I thought it a bit over the top I was willing to go along with it because, hell, it was so delightfully dark and nasty.

If you want a quick, easy, terrifying read to take you into winter, or to tide you over until the third and final installment of del Toro and Hogan’s trilogy comes out in paperback, or simply because you feel like a dark and creepy read, I highly recommend Outpost.

I am now going to sit somewhere and listen to very lively music.

Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone

I have a natural antipathy to Romeo & Juliet type narratives. There’s something unbearably angsty and teeny and undercooked about a lot of them, something immature about the approach and the build-up and the type of characters involved. When I studied the play at school it made so much sense when the teacher told us Juliet was supposed to be a young teenager – as a fourteen-year-old studying it, I just sat there and thought, “Yes, this is exactly the kind of stupid angsty romance people my age would think is twoo wuv”. Oh hormones, you have so much to answer for!

Twilight obviously didn’t help matters much. In fact I dislike Romeo & Juliet enough to avoid any such stories on the basis that the concept just doesn’t work for me – Twilight failed catastrophically on such a number of levels that the R&J similarities passed me by until yesterday when I picked up Laini Taylor’s new book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, and suddenly everything was cast in a new light.

Karou is an art student living in Prague. She has blue hair and a beautiful, annoying ex-boyfriend and a best friend with a sense of humour and a love for puppetry. Karou has a feeling that she is somehow incomplete, but no matter; she’s a busy girl. She studies her art, charming her friends with graphic stories of animal hybrid monsters in her art books. And then she runs errands for Brimstone, one of those very animal hybrid monsters her friends think she’s made up, collecting teeth for him; why does he want teeth? She doesn’t know. His shop is accessed by doors all over the world, and she travels everywhere for him – Morocco, Paris, St Petersburg, everywhere. And then the black handprints start appearing on the doors, left by devastatingly beautiful golden strangers. And, you know, THINGS OCCUR.

I have a new daydream: I imagine a world wherein this book came first, before Twilight. Where this book got the attention of the world’s teenage girls before vampiric stalker-boys became the Big Thing. Where beautiful writing lightly spun with dramatic, heavy moments, so rich in description I’m sitting here flicking through it just slightly dizzy with delight at the prospect of picking just one quotation to show you to back this up (I can’t, there’s too much!). It’s gorgeous all the way through, you guys. Gorgeous! It’s incredibly vivid, tactile writing, something that latches on to you from the very first chapter in which Karou is walking through Prague and encounters her ex-boyfriend and instead of just recounting this in prose, Taylor throws all these subtle yet jolting descriptions at us, wrapping us up in Karou’s physical senses like you’d wrap a child up in a scarf. It’s ridiculous how tangible she makes these angelic and demonic entities sound, describing fur and horns and lips and hair with such sensuousness that it’s almost like this book’s trying to seduce us. Trying? Not trying. Did. It’s seductive. It seduced me, and I’m delighted to say so.

The last time I felt like this about writing it was either Guy Gavriel Kay or Jacqueline Carey‘s Kushiel’s Dart sequence. I can’t remember. But oh, Taylor made me fancy a man who doesn’t smile or joke, and that takes extremely good writing. It even made me like a girl with blue hair who spent the first third of the book looking like an unfortunate Mary Sue type character – but somewhere along the way I began to care, and quite liked her. She does little things that make her mean (the eyebrows) but manages not to be unlikable, nor too perfect to believe in. The vital issue with Twilight, to my mind, was the absence of humour and banter. Well, Karou and Zuzana had a lovely friendship, and even the unsmiling man tries a few jokes. There’s a levity to it which makes the central story that much more affecting – you can’t have a plot built on tragedy and not have it celebrate life and indulge in humour and humanity.

Oh guys I’m not even going to say anything more. I just loved it. It was like the best European folk tales wrapped up in angels and demons and TEETH oh god the teeth.

Apparently the next one is due out next year. You have a year to read this before I start getting shouty. You won’t like me when I’m shouty.

“The Iron Witch” by Karen Mahoney

The Iron Witch by Karen Mahoney has one of the best covers I’ve seen in ages. It’s absolutely gorgeous and intricate and intriguing, and the book itself (or my edition at least) even has gold-edged pages. It is a gold and shiny book, which is entirely my kinda thing. It includes alchemists and fairies and a girl with iron inlaid in her arms and hands. If you like pretty books with strong fairytale elements then this book is definitely for you!

Freak.

That’s what they call seventeen-year-old Donna Underwood at Ironbridge High School. A horrific fey attack that killed her father when she was just a child left Donna branded with iron tattoos that cover her hands and arms – and magically enhanced strength, that she now does all she can to hide.

Now, after ten years of wishing for a normal life, Donna finally accepts her role in the centuries-old war against the darkest outcasts of Faerie – the dark elves. Aided by Xan, a gorgeous half-fey dropout, Donna must save her best friend’s life – and that means betraying one of the world’s greatest secrets and confronting the very thing that destroyed her family.

– from Amazon

I wanted more. That there’s more to come is great, but there’s a feeling of characters and settings and plotlines and all sorts of things being muted or covered up so although there’s a sense of intrigue (always valued) there’s also a sense of distance that made it hard to get into for most of the first half. Donna isn’t my kind of character but there’s a sad charm about her, and in the last third of the book she came alive; the change of pace and tone propelled the book from being a decent YA with romantic and otherworldly themes to something a lot more entertaining and engaging. I wanted more of the alchemy, because the little we see of it in the laboratory really livened up the plot and gave depth to the setting. More alchemy! I love me some alchemy. Especially when really inventive things are done with it – like Donna’s arms, which Mahoney details the thinking behind in a wonderful essay at the back of the book. That scene in the lab is also where Donna shines, taking charge and showing us that she knows things and can use what she knows, and isn’t the slightly whiny teen she sometimes seems without overdoing the exposition. I couldn’t get enough of that scene. Really fun!

The plot’s very straightforward and uncomplicated (girl loses dad, girl’s best friend goes AWOL, girl teams up with charming mysterious chap to get him back), as are the characters for the most part. I was fascinated by the older characters who we see so little of, and although I found Navid a bit bland (Donna’s focus on getting him back didn’t quite click for me though I was happy to go along for the ride) the romance was delicate and extremely well-spun. I’m horribly demanding about romance storylines in my reading and this was more than satisfactory; realistic enough while still maintaining that little glimmer of magic and shyness, that tinge of trust. However, the bully stands out as a jarring moment because she just didn’t fit in – for all the lack of a concrete bad guy (well, you have the skriker, but that’s hardly the villain of the piece, and the queen was too sympathetic) there’s something of the mindless caricature about her, and though I had my issues with it the book is too well-written in general for that sort of thing to pass without comment. To be specific it was jarring because it felt flat in a book written in a great style with excellent descriptions and characters with layers of complications and history, so it just felt odd.

In fact, if I’d only read the last half or third of the book I’d have been hugely enamoured with the whole thing, but the slow beginning and weird distance from Donna and her world dragged it down a bit. There is something really interesting about Donna but it gets a bit lost in the third person segments, and I reckon she’s a prime example of when first person perspective works better than third (which might have helped regarding the exposition, actually). I found it really interesting that the book lacked an actual antagonist, which made it feel a bit aimless and dependent on a MacGuffin, but at the same time it meant more emphasis on Donna.

The ending was a bit abrupt but nicely handled (consequences happen!) and overall I liked the book. It’s a bit of a scene-setting series-starting book, a shame as it feels oddly incomplete, but I’ll continue reading the trilogy. I do think it’s a great young YA (I’ll be passing it on to my dad’s god-daughter in due course, definitely!). Most importantly, The Iron Witch has imagination – always the most vital thing in any book. It’s an undemanding but enjoyable book, and if you like fairytales, alchemy or promising strands of teen romance, then this is certainly worth picking up.

Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson

Sixteen-year-old Alison has been sectioned in a mental institute for teens, having murdered the most perfect and popular girl at school. But the case is a mystery: no body has been found, and Alison’s condition is proving difficult to diagnose. Alison herself can’t explain what happened: one minute she was fighting with Tori – the next she disintegrated. Into nothing. But that’s impossible. Right?
– from amazon.co.uk

The front of the proof copy of this book says “EVERYTHING YOU BELIEVE IS WRONG” which is quite a statement to make but the concept was interesting enough to overcome my immediate sense of ?! upon seeing the tagline. It is well worth reading, guys. Ultraviolet by RJ Anderson. Well worth it for reasons above and beyond the very soft science fiction concept.

Firstly, if you’ve ever heard of synaesthesia then you’re ahead of the protagonist, which is a slight drag, but for YA readers unlikely to be a problem. Our protagonist is sixteen-year-old Alison who exists in a chaotic swirl of colours and tastes and sounds and she’s ridiculously sensitive to everything around her. She starts the story waking up in a hospital and it’s a slow, foggy beginning to the book, just like Alison’s wakening; it’s really not the strongest part of the book. It doesn’t quite set a tone, Alison comes across as being SO sensitive and squishy and fragile that there’s nothing to her but her confusion and that she’s involved in the disappearance of the perfect, popular but hated Tori. It improves as it goes on, quite a bit, but throughout I found Alison difficult to like and difficult to feel anything for. I suppose it works in a way to suggest that Alison MIGHT be totally insane, but canny readers are going to be totally aware that this isn’t really an option given that she’s the main character.

That said, RJ Anderson uses the synaesthesia beautifully and the writing is, at times, gorgeous. It stretched credulity a little later in the plot but it’s done with completely effective language and that near-poetic resonant edge to it. It’s an excellent treatment of a very weird and curious condition and I’d urge people to read this book just to enjoy the mad variety of ways very simple things are described, colours as tastes and emotions and so on, even in the chapter titles.

Faraday’s sessions with Alison, where he informs her of her synaesthesia and various other moments, are good scenes. He never seems like there’s anything solid to him so I have to say he didn’t really interest me very much (also what is this thing about his eye colour, that sort of thing would alarm me greatly!) but the twists served to build character ginormously well and I was well impressed with RJ Anderson’s ingenuity in everything from providing us with a very well-rendered and dynamically populated mental institute to the climactic part of the plot. The soft science fiction aspects are well-handled and though I’ve seen reviews saying that they feel out-of-place and jarring with the rest of the story, I feel that it all actually serves to make it stronger, building on the developing characters and plot, and I found the ending pretty much pitch-perfect.

The main thing that I really heart about this book is Tori and the manner in which Alison, who’s had to put up with a relentlessly intense multi-dimensional world for so long, comes to realize that there’s more than one dimension to people as well. It’s a wonderful way to approach it, something everyone struggles with because we’re all trapped as unreliable narrators – and in this case it’s very convoluted. I’ve always got a strong distaste for stories with the perfect prissy blonde cheerleader type who acts horrible and is horrible and has no redeeming qualities simply because she’s a stereotypical female villain; people like that simply don’t exist and the idea that it’s okay to hate these people (like it’s okay to hate Slytherins!) really pisses me off. Ultraviolet sidesteps this travesty of a concept and makes it into something far more interesting, deep and worthwhile. Although Alison and Faraday were lacklustre to me, it was a merry read, well-written, at times ingenious, and very pleasantly diverting.

Thanks to @NotRollerGirl for the book!  ALSO check out the excellent review by Jessie over at Bibliophile Anonymous!

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Life As We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer

I stayed up until 4am reading Life As We Knew It.  Once I’ve written this I’m getting more coffee.  Yes, this is a read-in-one-sitting book.  It’s not hard and it’s quick and it’s compulsive.

This is not a dystopian novel. I saw it being described as such in a review (I forget where) and it’s absolutely in no way a dystopian setting for reasons that bloggers have discussed at length elsewhere – this is straight-out apocalyptic. Not even post-apocalyptic – this book charts the end of the world via the diary entries of a sixteen year old girl, Miranda, so we’ve got a ringside seat for the End of the World.

And oh man. It’s unsettling. I loved it.

Bush-era Pennsylvania. Welcome to Miranda’s diary! Miranda likes figure skating. A lot. Miranda and her two best friends have drifted apart since they lost a friend to illness. Miranda’s younger brother Jonny is a massive fan of baseball while her older brother Matt is studying at Cornell. Miranda’s parents are divorced. Miranda’s dad’s new ladyfriend is expecting a baby and has asked Miranda to be the godmother. Miranda’s excited but wary. Miranda is sixteen, normal, and an extremely likeable protagonist – she’s not overly bratty (except for moments, understandable moments!), her point of view has emotional weight, and Pfeffer’s writing is extremely teen with moments of gorgeousness and depth that adds a real resonance, like this excerpt from the run-up to the asteroid collision:

“I guess Ms Hammish thinks this moon thing is historical, because in history that’s what we talked about. How people throughout history have looked at the moon and comets and eclipses. Actually, that was kind of interesting. I never really thought about how when I look at the moon it’s the same moon Shakespeare and Marie Antoinette and George Washington and Cleopatra looked at. Not to mention all those zillions of people I’ve never heard of. All those Homo sapiens and Neanderthals looked at the very same moon as me. It waxed and waned in their sky, too.”
— p.13

That hasn’t got the air of impending doom about it at all, does it? No, not a hint.

There’s so much I want to say about this book. It’s about isolation and fear and life without all the modern amenities we’re used to – running water, reliable (or any!) electricity, communications, stores, fuel, even social lives and fresh air. It’s about family, about the connections between people when they’re strained and when we need to rely on other people for our own survival, and that point at which it’s not about us individually making it through, but making sure the people we love make it through (on that note Miranda’s mother is an absolute hero and there should be a mother like her installed on every street in case of emergencies). It’s about the responsibilities that come with growing up and becoming an adult, running a home, supporting other people. It’s about the waxing and waning of hope in dire circumstances and what it does to people, whether it breaks them or weakens them and what it takes to endure without losing it.

Miranda’s diary is excellent, full of everyday details that make every facet of this impossibly scary world from the mundane to the insane (the passage where her mother talks about the volcanoes actually made me shudder) feel so realistic, I actually had to look up from the book and out of the window at the night sky to make sure it wasn’t real every few chapters. It was the early hours, don’t laugh. Everything feels more real after 1am when you’re alone in the dark! We also see something of an unreliable narrator at work – her perspective is great but one can’t shake the grim knowledge that there’s a lot in what she’s not saying, what she doesn’t know, that is utterly chilling. Her mother’s reactions and behaviour is as informative as Miranda’s notes. From the moment the tidal waves sweep in we know this family isn’t experiencing the worst of it (anything but!) and Pfeffer leaves out just enough detail for these events to loom over them in their apparent absence like the ash clouds themselves. For such an uneasy read Miranda’s not actually in danger that often – an excellent approach because we know she makes it because it’s a DIARY and it goes ON.

SLIGHTLY SPOILERY PARAGRAPH BUT ONLY SLIGHTLY! Ignoring the sequels for a moment (I can’t wait to get to the second – the protagonist is right in the chaos that’s NYC, and I’ve never read a book with a Puerto Rican main character before so that’s two elements I’m very interested in), the first person perspective got me wondering a few times if Miranda’s not hallucinating, or lying, especially towards the end, or with the sickness that she miraculously didn’t get. Moments that we suspect are too good to be true feel actually far too good. I got an actual rush of relief at one point, and bearing in mind the book actually ends it suggests the end of the diary itself for whatever reason – and I liked the idea that she started making her entries up as things got too bad to write about, using fiction to escape the awfulness, pretending there’s a glimmer of hope. I suspect this is because I’ve always mistrusted first person narrations since Tyke Tiler.  ALL’S COOL slightly spoilery bit over.

And there’s more I want to say. Layers of fiction and history and she’s called Miranda like Miranda from The Tempest who was stranded too with an over-protective but damned wise parent and how it’s got a bit of an American pioneer feel to it without being overly American and how claustrophobic it felt and I need other people to read it and talk about it. I love apocalyptic fiction, I really do.

Forget dystopias for a bit. They’re epic tales of teenage angst against the system and they’re marvellous but this is a YA novel in the vein of The Day Of The Triffids, The Stand and various classics, except without the science fiction moral lessons and faintly supernatural air; this a straight-on account of a family at the end of the world struggling to survive. It had such atmosphere it was a relief to finish and look out of my window to see dawn creeping in (4am! FOUR AM!). It’s a hell of a book that actually makes you thankful for what you have. Can more teenagers read it? And more adults? Please?

Just don’t read it at night. Read it when you can look up and be reassured that you can still see the sun, or that the moon’s the right size.