Book Review: The Light That Gets Lost By Natasha Carthew

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The Light That Gets Lost by Natasha Carthew

Published by Bloomsbury on November 5, 2015

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Pages: 320 – hardcover

Format: hardcover

Source: Bloomsbury

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Blurb:

A small boy hiding in a cupboard witnesses something no child should ever see. He tries not to look but he still hears it. And when he comes out, there’s no mistaking. His mum and dad have been killed. And though he’s only small, he swears that he’ll get revenge one day.

Years later, Trey enters a strange camp that is meant to save troubled teenagers. It’s packed with crazies, god-botherers, devoted felons and broken kids. Trey’s been in and out of trouble ever since the day the bad thing happened, but he’s he not here for saving: this is where he’ll find the man who did it. Revenge and healing, salvation and hell are a boiling, dangerous mix, and Trey finds himself drawn to a girl, a dream and the offer of friendship in the dark.


Review:

DNF at 45%

I’m sorry. I just can’t. I tried so hard to like this book. There were so many positive reviews, the blurb & cover were attractive, and it generally looked like such an appealing book. I felt like I found my perfect read. However, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Most of the people said they flew through this book. I, however, felt like I was swimming through mud. This book ruined my reading pace by being so sluggish and slow. I’d keep checking how many pages were left every 20 minutes. And let me tell you, that definitely was no fun. What was even more baffling was the amount of 3-5 star reviews this book received. The praise was rolling in like waves in a thunderstorm and I have no idea why.

First of all, the writing style of this book is either going to make it or break it for you. I consider myself part of the latter group. I was so put off by the writing style; it was just too disconcerting. Were the run-on sentences supposed to be lyrical? Poetic? Frankly, I’d rather read my English textbook. This book is inundated with overtly descriptive paragraphs that’ll bore you to death, and (see above) nonsensical run-on sentences that are more confusing than informative. I’ll admit though, sometimes these sentences take a turn into the ‘beautiful and lyrical’ territory, but more often than not, that isn’t the case. They just left me scratching my head in puzzlement. Here’s an example from the prologue:

“Mum was flat out on the floor. She’d spilt something and was caught in a half-thought going under the bed […] the sticky was growing and it branched out like creeping fingers under the rug and the boy shouted for her but it was too late, the bed had her.”

It was supposed to resemble some kind of poetic imagery, but all it did was make me think “What the hell did I just read?”

Also, I’m not sure if this was because of the writing style or something else, but I felt absolutely nothing for the characters. I kept waiting for something to happen but… Nope, nothing. Nada, zero, zilch. I never connected with any of the characters and I just felt like I was watching them from afar. I thought that they’d maybe gain more depth as the book progresses, but unfortunately that didn’t happen. The main character made me uncomfortable. He was weird. Not quirky. Just plain old weird – synonymous to creepy. There was nothing that made me relate to any of the characters or even like them; they really grated on my nerves.

Maybe I could’ve forgiven the above points if the book even had a purpose or anything remotely resembling a plot, but that aspect also disappointed. This is the kind of book that’d have you thinking Oh maybe it’ll get better in a few pages. And Maybe the next chapter? And Something’s going to happen now, I feel it. But you’re already at the end and you feel nothing. For all you know, you could’ve just read through a bibliography without knowing the difference.

One of the things that my English teacher continuously emphasized was that a plot always had to have rising action that led to a climax and, in turn, a resolution. That wasn’t present in this book. When we discover who killed the MC’s parents, I was just like “You don’t say?!” There was no buildup and it was so clearly obvious from the start that I wasn’t sure if he was being seriously surprised or not. It was so boring and nothing like what the blurb promised. Where was the revenge-quest? All we got was some type of “Lord of the Flies” fanfiction.

Another thing that bothered me was the world-building & setting. We have a group of teenagers in a remote camp somewhere in England. They have no outside contact. However, there are hints about the outside. I think it was some kind of dystopian society or weird future in which the army has control of everything. To be honest, this information didn’t really play an essential role in the plot. Furthermore, it was riddled with more holes than a rotting piece of wood. Maybe it was part of the ‘charm’ of this whole book, but the fact that we know practically nothing about the world was just irritating and leaves the reader feeling very displaced.

Overall, I think this book was a very confusing jumble of inarticulate writing, one-dimensional characters, and hole-riddled plot with no sense of purpose or direction. Some people may think that it’s a masterpiece of lyrical writing and perfect plot, but I’d be inclined to disagree. Unfortunately, this just isn’t for me.

Thank you to the publisher, Bloomsbury, for providing me with a review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 1 fish

1 fish

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Book Review: The Arch and the Butterfly by Mohammed Achaari

 The Arch and the Butterfly by Mohammed Achaari

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing
Genres: Fiction, Arab-lit
Pages: 336
Format: paperback
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Blurb:

Preparing to leave for work one morning, Youssef al-Firsiwi finds a mysterious letter has been slipped under his door. In a single line, he learns that his only son, Yacine, whom he believed to be studying engineering in Paris, has been killed in Afghanistan fighting with the Islamist resistance. His comfortable life as a leftist journalist shattered, Youssef loses both his sense of smell and his sense of self. He and his wife divorce and he becomes involved with a new woman. He turns for support to his friends Ahmad and Ibrahim, themselves enmeshed in ever-more complex real estate deals and high-profile cases of kidnapping. Meanwhile Youssef struggles to reconnect with his father, who, having lost his business empire and his sight, spends his days guiding tourists around ancient Roman ruins. Shuttling between Marrakech, Rabat and Casablanca, Youssef begins to rebuild his life. Yet he is pursued by his son’s spectral presence and the menace of religious extremism, in this novel of shifting identity and cultural and generational change.


Review:

*Many thanks to Bloomsbury QF Publishing for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

It took me months to finish this book, I kid you not. I kept picking up this book, reading a few pages, and putting it down only to repeat the same process a few weeks later. It was definitely tiring. I’m not sure what the main idea of this book was; the synopsis seemed interesting enough but the book had nothing in common with the synopsis. To put it in simple words, this book was a train wreck.

Everything in The Arch and the Butterfly was scattered; there was no coordination between the plot and everything else. The book jumped from one plot point to another like this was a tennis match. Honestly, what was the main plot? His dad, or his dead son in Afghanistan, or his gay friend, or his sister, or the corruption in Morocco? Frankly, I can’t tell.

In addition to that, I just found this book to be very dreary and insipid. There was too much character rumination, which I am not a fan of, and long-winded flashbacks that weren’t even remotely related to the book. Also, we are provided with detailed histories and backstories to unimportant characters that contribute nothing to the story. Zilch. Nada. It was so hard keeping track of everything – the characters, their names & backstories, the flashbacks and just — everything’s purpose, I suppose. In an effort to make the book intriguing, the author peppered it with complex ideas that just made it overbearing. I believe it would’ve been more interesting if ideas were weaved through more skillfully, or if they were just toned down, to be honest.

Furthermore, there’s still the main character – Youssef – to discuss. At first, he was okay, but then we learn about his weird detachment issues, which I (again) don’t know contributed what exactly to the story. Half the time, I don’t even know what Youssef was thinking about! Sometimes he was an emotionless husband and other times he was this lover of two women. He had no charisma to get the reader to like him – although I don’t exactly know if the author did that purposely or not.

The only one redeemable thing about The Arch and the Butterfly was the way the author described settings in the story. It was beautifully written and dare I say it – captivating. It’s a shame that the fact alone couldn’t balance out the rest of the story.

Rating: 1 fish

1 fish