Mosquitoland by David Arnold
Published by Penguin on March 3rd 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Social Issues, New Experience, Family, Marriage & Divorce, Depression & Mental Illness
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“Top-notch” —USA Today “Illuminating” —Washington Post “A breath of fresh air” —Entertainment Weekly “Memorable” —People I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange. 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. Told in an unforgettable, kaleidoscopic voice, Mosquitoland is a modern American odyssey, as hilarious as it is heartbreaking.From the Hardcover edition.
“I am a collection of oddities, a circus of neurons and electrons: my heart is the ringmaster, my soul is the trapeze artist, and the world is my audience. It sounds strange because it is, and it is, because I am strange.”
Before anyone wants to tell me – yes, I know that John Green did not invent a new style of book. But he is well-known enough that he’s good to use in comparisons.
So I’d say you would like this if you enjoy John Green’s books, particularly TFiOS. This is the kind of book where the extremely philosophically-minded teen protagonist pauses at least once a paragraph to ruminate on the nature of the universe, people, and her own tumultuous emotions.
But, for me, this didn’t feel like a story. It felt like a collection of thoughts and conversations that are all meant to show how smart, deep and expertly snarky the narrator is. Everything that happens to her – from nearly getting sexually assaulted to going to eat at a gas station diner – has a message behind it. And it feels like it too.
Nothing feels natural. Emotions feel like plot tools or an excuse for a dally into a pretty writing exercise. Conversations feel like another opportunity for the author to show how witty and snarky Mim is.
I’ve read a number of reviews since finishing this book that all say something like “I liked it but just didn’t connect for some reason” or “It’s well written but there’s something I can’t put my finger on”. I felt the same way, except I’m pretty sure I know what it is.
On a technical level, the book is well-written and it deals with some serious subject matter. But I never felt any emotional connection. Mim is a flat cardboard cutout used as a mouthpiece for the author’s philosophy and snark.
I said the characters in The Fault in Our Stars didn’t feel like teenagers and some people got pissy because I was implying that teens weren’t smart/wise/etc., but I’m starting to think that’s not what I mean anyway. It’s not that these characters don’t feel like teenagers, it’s that they don’t feel like people, period. They feel like a commentary on the world or on literature or on philosophy. Or science. They feel like an author trying too hard to be clever.
But I guess that’s just me. Many people seem to love these kind of books.
I'm Emily May - a twenty-something year old book blogger from the North of England. Currently going wherever the wind or the storyline takes me. Find me on Goodreads
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