Tuesday 24 January 2017

Mini-Reviews: Bone Gap, Radio Silence & Dark Tales

Bone Gap, Laura Ruby
380|Faber|29th December 2016

Everyone knows Bone Gap is full of gaps - gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever. So when young, beautiful Roza goes missing, the people of Bone Gap aren't surprised. After all, it isn't the first time someone's slipped away and left Finn and Sean O'Sullivan on their own.

Finn knows that's not what happened with Roza. He knows she was taken, ripped from the cornfields by a man whose face he can't remember. But no one believes him anymore. Well, almost no one. Petey Willis, the beekeeper's daughter, suspects that lurking behind Finn's fearful shyness is a story worth uncovering. But as we, like Petey, follow the stories of Finn, Roza, and the people of Bone Gap - their melancholy pasts, their terrifying presents, their uncertain futures - the truth about what happened to Roza is slowly revealed. And it is stranger than you can possibly imagine...

I’ve been wanting to read Bone Gap for a really, really long time so I was crazy excited to see it finally picked up in the UK and it was definitely worth the wait.

Bone Gap
is one of the most beautifully written books in a really long time. Magical, dreamy and totally hypnotising, it’s how magical realism should be. A dreamlike haze hangs over the whole novel and it only gets more and more intense as the mystery unravelled and things heated up between Finn and Petey. Oh, Petey, how I love thee. She’s fierce and vulnerable all at the same time and I fell head over heels for her.

Magic, romance and a heady summer, Bone Gap is the perfect escape from the chill of winter.

Thanks to Faber for the review copy.

Radio Silence, Alice Oseman
410|Harper Collins|25th February 2016

What if everything you set yourself up to be was wrong?

Frances has always been a study machine with one goal, elite university. Nothing will stand in her way; not friends, not a guilty secret – not even the person she is on the inside.

But when Frances meets Aled, the shy genius behind her favourite podcast, she discovers a new freedom. He unlocks the door to Real Frances and for the first time she experiences true friendship, unafraid to be herself. Then the podcast goes viral and the fragile trust between them is broken.

Caught between who she was and who she longs to be, Frances’ dreams come crashing down. Suffocating with guilt, she knows that she has to confront her past… She has to confess why Carys disappeared…

Meanwhile at uni, Aled is alone, fighting even darker secrets.

It’s only by facing up to your fears that you can overcome them. And it’s only by being your true self that you can find happiness. Frances is going to need every bit of courage she has.

I’ve had Alice Oseman’s second novel on my shelf since January and even with all the hype, i still didn’t pick it up until the beginning of this month. I think I must have been mad.

I listened to Radio Silence on audiobook and while it took me a little while to get into, but I soon struggled to stop listening. There’s mystery, angst, fandom and a real relatability to Frances and Aled that I was constantly wondering why on earth I’d waited so long to read it.

Frances is obsessed with the Universe City podcast. She’s posts fanart on Tumblr, listens to every episode religiously and RTs everything that comes from the creator, Radio Silence and it’s a real glimpse at how fandom works in 2016. As Frances gets deeper into the fandom and closer to Aled, she realises the poison behind such a ‘passionate’ fandom. It was scary and intrusive and endlessly pushy - the way the ‘fans’ treated the people behind the thing they loved so much was horrible.

The other strongest theme in this book is education. Frances has spent her entire life dedicated to passing exams, acing her coursework and using all of her free time to increase her chances of getting a place at Cambridge. Aled has done exactly the same, but now he doesn’t even know if he wants to go to uni. It’s not the only option after all, is it? It was really interesting to read from this perspective, one I know that Alice shares herself, having spent all of my school life thinking that university was the only way to secure a ‘good’ future.

I really loved Radio Silence and I’m already excited for Alice Oseman’s next book.  

Thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy.

Dark Tales, Shirley Jackson
208|Penguin Classics|6th October 2016

There’s something nasty in suburbia. In these deliciously dark tales, the daily commute turns into a nightmarish game of hide and seek, the loving wife hides homicidal thoughts and the concerned citizen might just be an infamous serial killer. In the haunted world of Shirley Jackson, nothing is as it seems and nowhere is safe, from the city streets to the country manor, and from the small-town apartment to the dark, dark woods...

Has a title ever been more appropriate than Shirley Jackson’s title of queen of American Gothic? Nope.

These stories are short and snappy - 17 stories in just over 200 pages! And not a single word is wasted. Jackson is a master of tension, suspense and quiet horror. There’s nothing overtly scary. No monsters, no blood, no on-page murder or death; it’s all psychological and that’s where Jackson shines.

My favourite stories in the collection are ‘The Possibility of Evi’, ‘Paranoia’, ‘What a Thought’ and ‘The Man in the Woods’. The creepiness of old houses, the unexplained actions of strangers and mysterious houses in the middle of the dark woods all deliver that same unnerving atmosphere and deep chill of evil. Deliciously dark.

Thanks to Penguin Classics and NetGalley for the review copy.


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