The Stereotypical Freaks by Howard Shapiro – Book Review

The Stereotypical Freaks by Howard ShapiroI received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

🌟🌟

The description given on NetGalley for this book, I found slightly misleading, simply because when the phrase ‘life-altering news’ is used I don’t automatically assume it’s a cancer diagnosis. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have requested the book because after A Monster Calls and (most of) A Fault in Our Stars (though both are good books) I had decided that novels centred around cancer just weren’t what I wanted to read. I read for fun, and it just kind of depresses me.

As the story progressed I noticed a lot of ‘life lessons’ being thrown about (all under the general umbrella of ‘make the most of life while you can’), it would have been hard not to notice them honestly, as they were all explicitly spelled out, sometimes more than once, leaving the reader nothing more to infer or figure out for themselves. This is something I’d expect for a graphic novel aimed at young readers but given the heavy subject matter, I don’t think I’d like the age group this level of reading was appropriate for reading this particular story. Especially since the only reason the band enters the competition is so, the lead singer can impress his one true love – the most popular girl in school with a ‘loser’ boyfriend – which is an odd cliche to include in a story about overcoming stereotypes?

This said I liked the music references in the story – even though I think I have a slightly different definition of ‘rock’ than the author.

The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan – Book Review

Logan, K - The GloamingI received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

🌟🌟 .5

Yes! It finally happened – a month trudging through this book and I’m finally done!

Okay, so I’m 80% sure this is a beautiful and haunting story about grief and overcoming loss and life, finding love, etc, etc but I’m 100% sure I just didn’t get it.

Now, admittedly, I haven’t experienced a loss so very close to me and I did sympathise with the characters greatly for all their hardships and losses (it was about 7 chapters in I realised just how morbidly depressing and beautiful a book could be) and I do have those close to me who have experienced similar conception issues as Peter and Signe but I think what was missing was my ability to empathise as I just have never experienced these things myself. A lot of the feelings and the little moments that I could tell were supposed to be symbolic and powerful and show me something just went over my head. I just didn’t get it.

I didn’t get Pearl, I didn’t get the mermaid stuff, I didn’t get the island magic that was just there, unexplained and not really magic and I didn’t get the transition into first person or the flashbacks and anecdotes or just … any of it.

This is not to say this is a bad book, not at all – it was beautifully written and there were parts that really spoke to me like when Mara experienced a revelation as a reader toward the beginning, which I had experienced as a writer a few years ago.

“Over that winter she read a hundred deaths – and when the book ended, she could turn to the first page again, and the death was undone.”

For me it was the weird power of writing – you create a character, control their lives, create them in every dimension and way, make them real to the reader and then in just a few short words, take them away as if they were never there to start with. It was just a part that really spoke to me.

There were also quotes about the many things that could happen after we die but honestly I just found the bulk of this book … boring.

Nothing really happened in the beginning then after it did I thought it was getting to a turning point where stuff would start to happen and then it didn’t but it seemed like it could then I was too far in and realised I’d already dedicated too much time to give up and thought it might throw a huge plot twist right when I wasn’t expecting it and then I wondered what I was still doing reading a book that made me equal parts bored and morbid when it just went on and on about nothing like this sentence you’re still reading because you think it might have a point when it doesn’t.

Overarching theme: not a bad book, but not for everyone and not for me.