April Book Haul

It's that time again for a nice, new book haul. I thought it was about time to share which books I've read this previous month, and what I've thought of them. Yet again, I've been getting into bed at half past eight (despite the mocking of my friends), and reading for an hour or two. So, here goes, enjoy.

1, Along For The Ride - Sarah Dessen

Along For The Ride was the first book I read this month, and it was the book I enjoyed the most. I had read this previously, around 3 years ago, and after a while it completely slipped my mind. It wasn't until recently I began to think about it once more, to think about how much I enjoyed it. For me, love stories can go one of two ways. They can be really exciting and leave you longing for more, or they can be overly soppy and unrealistic; and truth be told- leaving you feeling slightly queasy.

Fortunately, Along For The Ride is not like that. The novel focuses on the lifestyle of Auden West, a teenage girl spending her last summer before college with her newly re-married father and step-sister. Both her mother and father being workaholics, she never experienced much of a childhood. Auden soon finds that Heidi, her fathers new wife is experiencing her fathers work over family priorities and steps into help throughout the day. But throughout the night, being an insomniac she is unable to sleep. She likes to go out and spend her nights alone, that is until she meets the brooding Eli, who, after loosing his best friend Abe in a car accident, hasn't been friendly with anyone in so long. Both unable to sleep, they spend their nights re-living Audens childhood. This is in the form of bowling, cycling and eating pie. You see both characters grow into new people, learning a new meaning to affection.

My favourite types of books are the ones that take you out of reality completely, and when you are quickly snapped back into the real world you are left bewildered and confused, wondering why you are no longer in the book. This is what I love about this book, for the next few days I felt absolutely lost without it. I really enjoy Sarah Dessen's writing. Although it is nice to have a challenge, I find her books so very comfortable to read and they flow along so easily.

Throughout this book, I'm sure many others would agree that the strongest factor is Dessen's completely believable characters.. Each one is so well developed and fleshed-out as the storyline takes it's course. I find myself being able to relate to certain aspects in each of the characters and that is always good in a book. People will read a book, and if the one of the characters has similarities to you, or even suffering with something that you are currently going through it helps you realise that there are other people like you in the world.

The only reason I haven't awarded it the full 5/5 is I thought that certain parts of the storyline were unnecessarily dragged out, and if this had been the case in a more challenging book it would have made more of a struggling read. Fortunately Sarah Dessen seems to write work that can be read so easily which is a nice reward every once and a while when you want to put your feet up and relax.  

2, Fangirl - Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl is a book which had a slightly discomforting start. Knowing about everyone else's overwhelming love and high praise for this book, and really struggling to get into it made me feel slightly awkward. It felt like when you are in a class, and everyone seems to understand yet you don't have a single clue what's going on. You sit there and convince yourself that you do understand, and that it's not possible for you to be the only one sat there in your own silent awkwardness. That's the only way I could describe the start to Fangirl, I felt almost as if I was convincing myself to enjoy it due to the love everyone else had seemed to give it.

Yes, I did enjoy reading it, but I truly didn't love it. This does happen every once and a while, getting sucked into the world of a book so quickly by the fans supporting it that you don't have a chance to really take in what's going on. To start with, the background behind Fangirl interested me- a girl [
Cath] overcome with shyness and the urge to stay in her dorm who survived by surrounding herself with writing during her first year at University. I liked the idea behind Cath, she was dealing with being socially awkward and introverted which is something that many people live with all over the world, realistic traits for a principle character to have. Unfortunately, she became one of my least favourite characters. I found she was very under-developed in comparison to other characters and it was more about how her love-life grew rather than how she grew as a person. There was no real recognition of the fact she had overcome her fear of socialising and finally became a person she wanted to be. For this reason I found my self reading purely because I could start a new, more enjoyable book as soon as I'd finally made my way to the end. 

However, a book, that in my view lacks a storyline and just seems to become an over explained account of a romance, the story started to pull me as I got further in. Every few chapters I would find a new reason to actually enjoy what I was reading. I was a massive fan of how the book consisted of around seven main characters, each one well fleshed-out from the start. Each character began to make it's mark on me, Rainbow Rowell giving each one it's own personality and their own easily distinguishable characteristics.

Sluggish is the only word I can think of to describe how this book started, it just felt forced and the whole story line wasn't quite fitting together properly in my head.

But ignoring the fact the ending did come about so quickly I had to check I hadn't missed a chapter as it didn't quite feel complete, the last few chapters left me with a raw sense of happiness that only comes about from a book that has a sense of reality all the way throughout.

Overall, the book did get more readable as you worked your way through what was just a sludge-filled start, each character was loveable and I started to find myself laughing all the more as I went through.
I just didn't feel as if this book was completely whole, the foundations to a story, yes, but not fully together. Enjoyable all the same.

3, Submarine - Joe Dunthorne

Before I begin my review of Submarine, I should probably say that yes, I did watch the film before I read the book- I know, what a crime on my behalf! I was introduced to the novel through friends recommendations of Richard Ayoade's magnificent film adaptation.

Submarine is the story of Oliver Tate, our narrator, a soon to be fifteen-year-old Welsh teenager who is awkward, intelligent, quirky, overthinks everything and a large fan of complicated words. This book tells the story of Oliver giving his best shot at surviving school, attempting to unravel the equally overcomplicated and captivating Jordana Bevan and experiencing the unknown territory that is adolescence - all whilst trying to save the marriage of his parents. 

But this is not like most coming of age stories. Joe Dunthorne gives Oliver a very unique voice, and the story is full of black humour. The character of Oliver is very well developed, to such an extent that you finish the book feeling as if you've known him your whole life. But alike most coming of age tales, you don't quite feel there is a message to this story. Oliver hasn't learnt anything on his adventure through adolescence, other than the meaning to a wide variety of complicated new words. He remains the same from beginning all the way throughout the story.

The one factor of the book that I did like over the film, was the large amounts of black humour. I was in the mood for a book that would make me laugh and Submarine really does do the trick. It was said in such seriousness on Olivers behalf it couldn't not be funny. Though some things that went on through Olivers mind did reach the extent of being slightly disturbing, you were still manipulated by Dunthorne to somehow still like and feel for Oliver at the end of the book. Whether that's because he is so well-developed or not I don't know.

"One night, it cried intermittently between the hours of midnight and four in the morning. I had one of Mrs Gri´Čâths’s maths tests the next day and I wanted to let him know that, in our community, this behaviour is not acceptable. So I came home at lunchtime – having performed poorly in the test –went into the street and made myself sick on the bonnet of his Lotus. It was mostly blueberry Pop-Tart." -Oliver describing the Yellow Lotus Car belonging to a man on his road.

The book is told through various means of storytelling: diary entries, straightforward storytelling, emails and pamphlets which all gave the book a more interesting interpretation on teenage life.

Overall, Submarine is candid, humorous and had the right amount of abnormal without becoming pretentious. 
It is a well-known fact that books tend to outshine their film, and yes, this was a fantastic piece of literature, but it didn't seem to recreate the spark I felt, and still feel every time I watch Richard Ayoades adaptation of a teenage boy with such an abnormal mind. [Film review will most likely follow this in the near future as it is a film that I enjoy to a huge extent.]
But nonetheless, I really did enjoy Submarine and I feel like the book has a completely different feel to the film, and in my opinion it is wrong to compare one to the other. 4/5.

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