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Friday Flashback Review: How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Friday, August 12, 2011

How I Live Now
3 Stars

Daisy has been sent from NYC to live with her aunt and cousins in the English countryside. Shortly after her arrival, her Aunt Penn has to travel out of the country for work, leaving the teens alone for a few days. Terrorists strike and nothing is ever the same.

This just wasn't really my kind of book. I want to call it dystopic, but my grasp of the meaning of that word is so tenuous that I could very well be wrong. Whatever it is, it's very bleak and end-of-the-world feeling and I'm more of a head in the sand, optimistic kind of person. But I picked it up and gave it a try because it won the Printz award and I've had good luck with the few of those I've picked up. Oh well. They can't all be winners for me, I guess.

I have to say that Daisy's voice was very distinct and felt pretty authentic to me. But she presents herself as a know-it-all to her cousins at the beginning (while admitting secretly that she doesn't know anything about the country) and that irritated me. I just had to try to train a know-it-all at work, and I really have that button out there to be pushed right now.

Daisy does grow past all that and it was interesting to see how she and her cousins dealt with the situation they found themselves in. But that's about all that happens. There is a little action but mostly it felt like a character study of how these kids deal with this new world. Characters can make or break a book, but a good story is equally as important to me.

The ending felt very rushed. There's sort of a fade-to-black and then the story picks up some time later. I had a hard time figuring out when this was taking place and what had happened. I was really just confused. I think I finally got it, but I would have liked it to be clearer from the beginning.

I can see how this would appeal to teens who are more realistic and worried about the state of the world than I am. I wouldn't recommend it for people like me who choose not to think about what might happen. It's definitely for older teens. There's some very vague but still inappropriate teen sex (trust me--it's not gratuitous, I'm not a prude, but it is inappropriate) and some violence that's not very graphic but maybe all the scarier for the lack of details about what just happened.

Reviewed July 15, 2009

For the curious, I do understand dystopian now and yes, this is it. I can't believe I ever wrote that. *blush*

Read an excerpt.

Find author Meg Rosoff on her website and her blog.

Buy How I Live Now at

”Friday
Friday Flashback Reviews are a weekly feature here on The Introverted Reader. These are old reviews I wrote on GoodReads. Thanks to Angieville and her Retro Friday Reviews for the inspiration and encouragement!
I have an affiliate relationship with Malaprop's, my local independent bookstore located in downtown Asheville, NC; and Better World Books. I will receive a small commission at no cost to you if you purchase books through links on my site.

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