Kids of Appetite by David Arnold Review!

Started: March 6, 2017

Finished: March 18, 2017

Rating: 3.5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): Victor Benucci and Madeline Falco have a story to tell. It begins with the death of Vic’s father. It ends with the murder of Mad’s uncle. The Hackensack Police Department would very much like to hear it. But in order to tell their story, Vic and Mad must focus on all the chapters in between. This is a story about: 1. A coded mission to scatter ashes across New Jersey. 2. The momentous nature of the Palisades in winter. 3. One dormant submarine. 4. Two songs about flowers. 5. Being cool in the traditional sense. 6. Sunsets & ice cream & orchards & graveyards. 7. Simultaneous extreme opposites. 8. A narrow escape from a war-torn country. 9. A story collector. 10. How to listen to someone who does not talk. 11. Falling in love with a painting. 12. Falling in love with a song. 13. Falling in love.

I had really high hopes for this book, but I can’t really say that it lived up to all of them.

I’m a big fan of David Arnold’s work. Mosquitoland was one of my favorite reads last year. So I was really excited to get my hands of Kids of Appetite because I was anticipating another really great story. But something about this one just felt off to me.

I don’t know if it was the characters, or the plot, or the setting but this whole story didn’t feel right to me. So I’m going to break down what exactly didn’t sit right with me and then get into what made this book enjoyable, because I did enjoy it (especially the end).

Typically I don’t like when books feel like they’re trying to be “different” or “special”. That’s the big reason why I don’t like John Green’s books. If something feels like it’s trying to be different, or edgy, or special, then it doesn’t feel genuine. This book felt like that. It felt like it was trying to create an image for itself from the very first page, but it was trying too hard. As much as I loved Mad, she and Vic just didn’t feel real.

When characters don’t feel real, I find it very hard to connect to them. Mad and Vic didn’t feel like people I would meet in real life. Even though they were very round characters, they felt entirely two-dimensional. They weren’t characters that I felt attached to, and I just couldn’t fully get into the story because of that.

The story was another thing that simply didn’t sit right. Half of the time, the narrative didn’t make sense until certain things that kept being repeated were explained. I understand that that works in many narratives, but in this one it just felt weird.

Now that I’ve explained my main complaint with this book, let me tell you what I liked: the ending.

I’m noticing a pattern with books that I don’t particularly enjoy, and it’s that they have great endings. This story had one of those endings where it felt like everything simply fell and locked into place. I can’t give details because of spoilers, but it was the perfect ending to what felt like a very haphazard story.

All in all, I enjoyed David Arnold’s writing in this book, but I wish that the story and characters had felt a little bit more genuine. I may revisit this book in the future, but for now I’m off to other worlds.

See you next time!

NEXT READ: History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera




Mosquitoland by David Arnold Review!

Started: June 5, 2016

Finished: June 12, 2016

Rating: 4 stars

Summary (from Goodreads): After the sudden collapse of her family, Mim Malone is dragged from her home in northern Ohio to the “wastelands” of Mississippi, where she lives in a medicated milieu with her dad and new stepmom. Before the dust has a chance to settle, she learns her mother is sick back in Cleveland. So she ditches her new life and hops aboard a northbound Greyhound bus to her real home and her real mother, meeting a quirky cast of fellow travelers along the way. But when her thousand-mile journey takes a few turns she could never see coming, Mim must confront her own demons, redefining her notions of love, loyalty, and what it means to be sane.

I went back and forth several times on whether  I wanted to give this book four stars or five because I really, really liked it, but I don’t think I loved it.

This book was right up my alley in terms of content and story. I love a main character who doesn’t really know what’s going inside her own head, and I also love a story that involves an eccentric cast of characters.

The characters themselves were fun and interesting. I wanted to know more about them throughout the novel, even when some of them had left the story. Their eccentricities made them exciting.

Mim was my favorite, which is a big change for me because main characters are hardly ever my favorite character. She was a smart, funny, enjoyable character and my heart broke over her relationship with her father. I couldn’t really relate to her as much as I wanted to, but I can definitely see how Mim would be relatable to people.

The story was wonderfully told, and I loved David Arnold’s writing. I plan to read his other novel, Kids of Appetite, when it’s released. His writing moved the story along quickly, and it didn’t really drag for me at any point. It kept me in suspense throughout the book (I never once guessed one of the plot points), and I loved it.

The thing that I really, really loved about it was the portrayal of mental illness. I love books that show a good portrayal of mental illness, as talked about when I reviewed All the Bright Places (here). I think that young adult literature about mental illness is often lacking something that makes it a good portrayal, and this one wasn’t lacking much. It was a different choice of a mental illness to portray, but I think that choice made the story much better. I’m very satisfied with the way Arnold portrayed Mim’s mental illness (which I believe she does have, even if it was left open-ended), and I think it’s one of the better portrayals in YA literature.

Even though I don’t really have a complaint about this novel, I don’t think I can give it five stars because while it was a great read that I really enjoyed and will probably reread, I don’t think it’s going to be one that I think about for days after I finish it. It just didn’t resonate with me as much, and that is why I can only give it four stars.

All in all, I really liked this novel, and I look forward to reading more of David Arnold’s writing when his next novel is released. I enjoyed it a lot, and I would highly recommend this book to everyone who wants a contemporary read that’s a little bit different than others.

NEXT READ: Identical by Ellen Hopkins