I’ve finished reading my first two books for the 48 Hour Book Challenge. I’ve logged 2 hours 25 minutes reading, and have read a total of 560 pages.
Skinny by Donna Cooner. Electric Monkey.
Ever Davies is fifteen years old and dangerously overweight. She was named for the fairytales her mother loved so much, but feels sure that “happily ever after” was never written for her. Until, one day, she decides to take drastic action. Changing on the outside is one thing – but silencing Skinny is the hardest task of all.
Skinny is the story of Ever, a teenager who is massively overweight and emotionally vulnerable. Ever’s personal demons have taken on a being all of their own, Skinny is the voice inside her head, castigating her and putting into words what she imagines everyone is thinking about her. It’s when the abuse from Skinny gets to fever pitch that Ever takes the decision to have gastric band surgery, every diet and exercise plan she’s tried has failed, this seems like the only option.
The book is well researched, the author herself talks briefly in the acknowledgements at the end of the book about her own experience having gastric band surgery. This book is no endorsement for such major surgery, it tries hard to show it in a balanced way – it isn’t a magic wand, and there are downsides to it along with the benefits. The overall message of the book is positive and supportive, but it keeps away from turning into a fairytale like the ones that are talked about throughout the book.
I found I could really identify with Ever, as times she comes across in quite a challenging manner but I felt she was well created and I could completely understand why she behaved as she did. My favourite character though was Rat, he completely stole my heart.
Fracture by Megan Miranda. Bloomsbury.
By the time 17-year-old Delaney Maxwell is pulled out of the icy waters of a frozen lake, her heart has stopped beating. She is officially dead. Then Delaney starts breathing… The doctors are mystified. But Delaney knows something is very wrong, even though outwardly she has completely recovered.
Pulled by sensations she can’t control, Delaney now finds herself drawn to the dying. Is her brain predicting death or causing it? Then Delaney meets Troy Varga. Is Troy a kindred spirit who somehow understands her weird and frightening gift? Or are his motives chillingly more sinister…
This was such an interesting read, I don’t know that I could put a label onto it – it fits into so many different categories. At its very essence it’s a book about life and death, about what makes us human and about how we relate to one another. From the opening line “The first time I died, I didn’t see God.” it had me in its grips and I couldn’t read it fast enough (a good choice for this weekend’s challenge).
Delaney doesn’t really understand what’s happening to her. She understands that she fell through the ice, and that she died for 11 minutes. She understands that she shouldn’t have survived, and that she certainly should be as well as she is – she sees the images of her brain scan and how damaged it is. What she doesn’t understand is why shy didn’t die, and why she’s now feeling just that little bit disconnected from the world. This sense of unease and confusion works really well to bring the reader into the book, we’re as confused by what’s going on as she is, and we keep reading to find out the answers she’s looking for.
Meeting Troy and finding out that he too is drawn to the dying, and that he too was in a coma is an interesting development in the plot. I found I was uneasy about him from the very start, the creeping sense of dread his presence caused kept me on the edge of my seat and the conclusion of the story really made me stop and think.
In a similar way to Skinny I found that I liked Delaney but again it was her close friend Decker that I really loved. He provided some much needed stability in the story both for me as the reader and for Delaney.
I’ve discovered that there will be a companion novel / sequel to Vengeance out next year. I’m already looking forward to revisiting these characters.