Friday, 27 September 2013

Hand Luggage Reviews (#2)

      Hand luggage is a feature where we give quick, 30 second reviews of books we've been reading. They're short, (hopefully) sweet, and the perfect way to check a book out before you dive in! This time Caroline is reviewing The Pool Theory by Alexa Nazarro and Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple.

The Pool Theory by Alexa Nazarro

Source: Netgalley (Thanks Two Pigeons Press!)
Rating: CNF - Could Not Finish

I just couldn’t like The Pool Theory. So much so that I couldn’t finish it. At least, I couldn’t properly finish it. I was kind of intrigued as to what happened so once I’d got about a third of the way through I just skipped to the last 2 chapters. Extremely unacceptable behaviour I know. There were a couple of reasons that meant I didn’t get on well with The Pool Theory but they pretty much just boiled down to one: Completely unlikeable characters. Normally this isn’t a problem for me, “Unlikeable” is often just a mean way of saying “complex” or “three-dimensional” (especially when it comes to female characters), but with this book I just couldn’t get past how completely horrible the protagonist, Kyle Penton, was! He’s a teenage boy who has just found out a girl he slept with once is pregnant, so I’d say it’s pretty fair enough if he comes across brattish and self-centred in the beginning. He is after all a teenager, that’s pretty much the job description (no offence actual teenagers, I’m talking about the stereotype here). My problem was he just didn’t get any better. As far as I read, there was no character development, no willingness to deal with the consequences of his actions, unless pushed. Some people might say this just makes him realistic, for me, it just meant I wanted to spend as little time with him as possible, so I put the book down. Obviously, if you read the whole thing you might get a different impression, so if you fancy tackling a pretty challenging portrayal of teen pregnancy from a male perspective then by all means give this one a go!

Where'd You Go Bernadette? by Maria Semple

Source: Bought from Waterstones
Rating: 4 out of 5, highly recommended

Happily, I enjoyed this one much more! Where'd You Go Bernadette is a really fun, entertaining story, with surprising emotional depth. I love reading stories told through a variety of media (Jaclyn Moriarty is a particular favourite), so I enjoyed delving through this novel as if I was a detective looking for clues. Bee is a great protagonist, fiery, intelligent and fiercely loyal to her mum Bernadette, who everyone else is convinced is crazy. Bernadette is also fascinating to learn about, through her emails to her private assistant in India, and also second hand from the other mothers at Bee's school. Semple keeps you guessing all the way through so I'll definitely be re-reading this one to see if I could have figured out the ending myself if only I'd been reading hard enough! P.S. I love all the slightly different versions of this cover, it's such a striking design. 

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