After I finished my exams, I decided to crack on with my TBR list which How I Live Now was top of. I was incredibly disappointed to say the least.
The premise seemed so promising, following teenage Daisy as she was sent from her New York home to stay with her cousins in the English countryside. However, far from being a holiday, war descends on the globe and chaos engulfs the nation. Daisy is forced to remain with her cousins as they fight for survival. Sounds brilliant doesn’t it? Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
Firstly, the lack of speech marks was incredibly frustrating and I spent more time trying to separate Daisy’s thoughts from her speech than focusing on the themes and plot of the novel. It was an ambitious technique, but Rosoff just couldn’t deliver. I know that some see it as a form of detachment which is a refreshing change from sentimentality, but for me, the whole point of a novel is to feel attached to it, to connect with the characters and to empathise with them and to be able to follow their story. I just ended up feeling empty and I couldn’t care about the characters, no matter how hard I tried.
Secondly, everything just felt rushed. While that could act as parallel for the fast paced lifestyle of war, it didn’t add anything to the novel and I just felt that Rosoff was in a rush to finish her novel, which is a never good thing. Rosoff missed out on plenty of opportunities to redeem herself, but never did. Because of this, the relationship between Daisy and Edmond (her cousin) felt forced, despite the fact that Daisy kept going on about how connected they were but it was never shown!
Thirdly, I felt that one of the key themes, the war wasn’t developed. For a time, it felt like there was just 4 teenagers on a farm without an adult. There was no real grit, no danger and no emotion. The whole novel just felt extremely bare. It wasn’t thought provoking, it wasn’t gripping, it wasn’t anything really.
Rating: 1 star.