Monday, January 24, 2011
"How I Live Now" by Meg Rosoff
Musings: How I Live Now is a very different young adult book, both in its style and in the way it approaches the dystopian genre. The first thing that everyone who reads this book is likely to notice is the somewhat stream-of-consciousness style. The book is told from Daisy's point of view, and her thoughts run indiscriminately and indistinctly, much as you might expect from a teenage girl disengaged from the world and herself. Her run-on sentences and frequent capitalization provide just the right attitude for Daisy, a girl who starves herself and has tortured many a psychologist to feel strength in the face of a father who just doesn't seem to care. Although in true teenage style Daisy rarely acknowledges the pain she's feeling, the reader can see it's there. Rosoff's choice in creating this style and tone for the novel is perfect and so different from traditional YA narratives.
War looms over the book from the beginning and eventually is the focus of the novel. But I liked that, in keeping true to the characters, Daisy first cares little about the war. She narrates, "I didn't spend much time thinking about the war because I was bored with everyone jabbering on for about the last five years about Would There Be One or Wouldn't There and I happen to know there wasn't anything we could do about it anyway so why even bring the subject up" (15).
In terms of the dystopian genre, How I Live Now is much more along the lines of The Road than most YA dystopians. There's not a standard plot arc, and the focus is more on Daisy's internal monologue as she survives and matures, even in the worst of situations. I can see how this might put off some readers, but though I found the storyline and ending a bit unusual, it works with the novel as a whole.
There's an unusual romance that might bother some readers, but I found it true. The characters aren't completely believable--they're all quirky and odd in unusual ways--but they come together effectively in the novel.
For the style alone, I'd highly recommend How I Live Now for its willingness to go outside standard YA form.