Review: Bad Apple by Zoje Stage

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I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m attempting to read at least two books per month this year. I’m doing okay so far considering its early March and I’ve just finished book number 11. Book number 11 happened to be ‘Bad Apple’ by Zoje Stage. I’ve not really read much adult fiction, I prefer to stick to Young Adult but I was staying the night at my brothers and wanted something to read. After scanning the shelves of ASDA this book seemed relatively promising so I picked it up.

WARNING: This review will contain spoilers.

The basic plot of the book is that Suzette and Alex have a daughter named Hanna who puts on an innocent front for Alex but with Suzette acts differently. Suzette starts to worry that her daughter’s bad behaviour will turn into something far more sinister. Is Suzette in danger of harm from her own daughter?

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I don’t even know where to start with this book. Before I bought it I gave the first page a quick read and it sounded okay but as I began reading I started to get increasingly irritated. Although the story was told in third person it flipped between the point of view of Suzette and Hanna and God this just really didn’t work. I know Hanna is supposed to be super sinister but ultimately she is still a child and her chapters didn’t seem like anything a child would think or do. Also it took away a lot of the suspense – knowing what Hanna was doing and why she was doing it didn’t leave any mystery.

Hanna is mute and at one point decides to torment her mother by finally speaking and pretending to be someone called ‘Anne-Marie’, the last woman to be accused of witchcraft in France and burnt at the stake. I feel like this would’ve been interesting but because we can read things from Hanna’s point of view we knew she was only pretending to be Anne-Marie and how she’d found out about her and everything. I don’t know. It just really didn’t work for me.

Also Alex was just fucking ridiculous. His daughter had been kicked out of three schools, cut off Suzette’s hair, MADE A FUCKING COLLAGE OF DEAD CORPSES OF WOMEN WITH A PICTURE OF HIS NAKED WIFE IN THE MIDDLE and was like “Aw my little girl is just misunderstood”. I’m surprised Suzette could stand him by the end of the book to be honest.

To be honest though Suzette started to get on my tits towards the end and I could not figure out her relationship with Hanna for the life of me. One minute she’s giving Hanna the finger, basically calling her a little shit and generally acts like she hates her – then Hanna literally tries to burn her alive and then Suzette gets seriously concerned because Hanna may have sprained her wrist? If someone literally tried to set me on fire, child or not, I would not give two shits about what happened to them. One minute Suzette couldn’t stand Hanna then the next she loved her and was willing to do anything for her; regardless of the fact Hanna literally tried to kill her twice. Her attitude kept flipping and I couldn’t keep up with it.

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The book, thankfully, eventually ends and I imagine it was supposed to be all sinister and creepy but it was just stupid. I don’t even care. I hope Hanna does go home to her parents and finishes the fucking job; they’ve been so stupid throughout that they almost deserve it.

Also maybe I’m thick but I couldn’t get to grips with Suzette’s beef with her own mother? She kept making references to how her mother was really crap and I couldn’t really figure out what was going on, like at all. Maybe I’m just an idiot, I don’t know. I did skim over a lot of bits to be fair ‘cos this was a difficult read – difficult in the sense it was a bit fucking boring.

In terms of storyline, there doesn’t even really appear to be one. Hanna is trying to kill her Mom… That’s the entire basis of the book. There’s no suspense, anything… Hanna doesn’t even creep me out because she just seemed so unrealistic throughout the entire book.

The one redeeming quality was that I did finish this book quite quickly and was eager to see what happened at the end – I was disappointed with what did happen ‘cos it was a bit dull but like… Yeah.

I was hoping this book would be similar to ‘Orphan’ or ‘We Need to Talk about Kevin’ but it wasn’t, it was just dreary. A really dreary read.

Overall, I don’t really recommend this book because the entire plot is written on the blurb. Hanna is evil. It upsets Suzette. That’s the whole plot. Feel free to leave a comment on what you thought of the book!

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Review: The Unpredictability of Being Human by Linni Ingemundsen

The Unpredictability of Being Human

This is the book from my book haul earlier this year that I was annoyed about because it turned out I already owned a proof copy of it yet went out and bought another copy in the store. However it did look good so I was immediately drawn to it.

The book is told from the point of view of Malin who knows she can’t fix the big stuff in her life like her Dad’s yelling, her brothers lie and her Mum falling apart. But at least she makes friends with Hanna to help her out. Because life is getting complicated – learning how to kiss, what to wear to prom, and what to do when you upset the prettiest, meanest girl in school. It’s tough fitting in when you’re different. But what if it’s the world that’s weird, not you?

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This book broke my streak of not wanting to read new books. You know where you go through that phase of not being able to get into a new story, you’d rather read ones you’ve already read that are comfortable ‘cos you already know the characters and the outcome? I was going through that but forced myself to pick up this book and give it a read because I’m sick of buying new books and not reading them. I was hooked almost immediately.

I think the best thing about this book is Malin herself. There doesn’t really seem to be a firm plot because if I sat down to tell somebody what it’s about I would kind of struggle. It’s more about Malin herself and how she struggles to cope with what are sometimes relatively mundane things but sometimes she finds herself with bigger issues that are more complicated. Malin is autistic but this is never said outright in the book and as another reviewer pointed out although this is great representation the fact that her autism is never diagnosed or mentioned is quite irritating as some people may just misinterpret her as immature or clueless. Although of course this could be part of the point as girls are not diagnosed as much as boys are and it’s mentioned a few times that her Father is in denial about Malin needing support. However, having read some reviews it’s clear that some people definitely don’t understand Malin’s character at all.

The book is set in Norway which felt like a breath of fresh air because generally the only settings for YA books sold in England are either set in England or America. I’ve read the odd book set in Australia but other than that nowhere else really.

Although the book didn’t have much of a solid plot I still ended up really enjoying it. It’s quite emotional and can be quite frustrating when the mean girls are clearly plotting against Malin but she doesn’t know enough about social cues to see this. Similarly her interactions with Hanna were interesting and I wish their friendship had been as solid as the blurb had made it out to be.

Overall I did really enjoy this book and was disappointed when I finished it. It had a similar vibe to ‘Silence is Goldfish’ because I feel like I really connected with the main character and they felt more like a friend than a character. I would definitely recommend this one!

April Book Haul

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I really like watching book hauls on YouTube and since I don’t have a decent camera or the confidence to sit down in front of one I decided write a blog post instead. This haul isn’t technically for the whole of April because I was super broke for the majority of April but I did head straight to Waterstones on pay day and spent way too much money on books so that I could write a haul post. Here’s hoping I actually read these books instead of hoarding them for months and never opening them.

I Let Him Go by Denise Fergus

I Let Him Go

This book caught my eye a couple of months ago because I spotted a hardback copy in ASDA. I nearly bought it there and then but decided not to because of the price. I finally got it on pay day and started reading it that same night.

‘I Let Him Go’ is written by James Bulger’s Mother and is honestly heartbreaking. For those who don’t know who James Bulger is, he was a two year-old child who was led away from his Mother by two children who tortured and killed him. The book is about his life before his murder, what it was like afterwards and honestly it’s a difficult read. I started reading it as I was babysitting two children for a friend and I just… It’s really difficult, honestly. I’m not gonna go on about it because it doesn’t feel entirely appropriate but yeah, I’m most of the way through it and although it is difficult it’s definitely a book I recommend.

Your Turn to Die by Sue Wallman

Your Turn to Die

After reading ‘Lying about Last Summer’ and ‘See How They Lie’ by Sue Wallman I’ve decided that I’m officially a fan of her work. So when I found this book in the store I decided to give it a read.

The blurb says that this book is about Leah who goes to stay with her cousins Ivy and Poppy, and their family friend Jakob once a year and she looks forward to going back. However this year they meet new girl Tatum and discover a body of a teenage girl was discovered in the garden, a secret kept for 60 years.

I’ll be honest, I’m looking forward to reading it because I trust that Sue will have thought of an amazing reveal and probably a plot twist but the thought of family friend Jakob did make me feel a bit apprehensive. I’m a bit worried it’s going to be a romance thing and Leah and Jakob are going to get together. I know I sound like a sad old lady when I go on about the romance thing but like… I just wanna read a book about girls kicking ass without having to read about them boasting about their relatively average boyfriends. Romance in YA novels is just everywhere I look and honestly I’m a bit sick of it.

But like I said, I trust Sue Wallman so even if there is some dreaded romance I’m sure it won’t put me off too much!

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances

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I actually bought this book towards the start of April from ASDA because ASDA do generally stock cheap paperbacks and it caught my eye. After reading the blurb I decided to give it a go. I started reading it a few weeks ago and it drew me in but unfortunately I haven’t picked it back up since then.

To summarise the blurb, ‘The Girlfriend’ is about Laura who has a son named Daniel who meets a girl named Cherry and Laura suspects she’s not all she seems. Basically.

I am enjoying it but the characters are so bloody posh that it’s a little off-putting. To be fair I’m pretty sure the fact they’re so rich is important to the plot but it’s still a bit annoying. Also Laura seems a bit obsessed with Daniel but like, I think that’s probably part of the plot too. Anyway, I’m looking forward to reading it!

Trouble Makers by Catherine Barter

Trouble Makers

I feel like I did get to a point where I was snatching up books because Waterstones have a ‘Buy One Get One Half Price’ offer and I figured if I was getting one I might as well get two. To be honest I can’t really seem to tell much about what the book is about from the blurb but it sounded interesting so I went for it. I read a few pages and it didn’t put me off so I decided to buy it. It’s got a sticker on it saying it won a ‘Children’s Book Prize 2018’ for ‘Older Fiction Shortlist’ so must be good! I’ll check it out.

The Unpredictability of Being Human by Linni Ingemundsen

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I feel like I’ve heard of this book but I can’t think where from… (Edit: I’ve just figured out why. I already owned a copy and it’s sat on my shelf. Story of my life.) Either way the cover caught my eye so I decided to give the blurb a read. This is another one where I’m not really 100% sure what it’s about but I’m going to read it and find out! I think I read a few pages from this one too and it’s been described as a ‘beautiful, funny and honest coming-of-age story that never pretends life is perfect’. I’m just hoping it doesn’t get tarnished with some boring, hetero romance to be honest. But I’ll definitely give it a go!

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

I’ve just Googled this and seen they’re turning it into a movie! I haven’t even read the book yet and I’m excited.

This is the one I’m most looking forward to reading. It’s about a girl named Starr who is drawn to activism after watching her unarmed friend get shot down by a police officer. I’m really looking forward to reading it, it has a ‘Winner’ sticker on it for the ‘Children’s Book Prize 2018’ so I bet it’s good. I’ll definitely be posting a review of it once I’m finished.

So there we go, that’s my book haul for April! I might upload reviews of some of these books, we’ll wait and see! If I buy as many or more books in May (and it’s possible) I’ll do another book haul!