How I Live Now, by Meg Rosoff, is a novel that will take you by surprise…which isn’t always necessarily a good thing.

Daisy, a fifteen year old from New York, is sent to live with her extended family in the English countryside after her father remarries.  Due to a new baby on the way, and a belief that her “evil stepmother” is out to get her, Daisy stops eating and develops anorexia.

When she arrives in England she meets her aunty (her late mother’s sister) and her four children; including cousin Edmond, whom she begins having feelings for.  When she learns that Edmond (who has the strange ability to almost see the future) has feelings for her back, they start an incestuous relationship.

At the same time, Aunt Penn leaves for Oslo, where she is soon stranded when a fictitious World War Three breaks out in the 21st century.  Over time, England is overtaken by the enemy, and the five children are separated; Daisy and nine year old Piper are left together, while Edmond and his twin brother Isaac, are taken to stay with a different family.

To be honest, I hadn’t seen or heard anything about this book until I found it in a second hand bookstore and liked the sound of the blurb.  Combined with the fact that it’s a Penguin Classic, I had high hopes for it.  Sadly, I was disappointed.

The book is separated into two parts, the first part making up the bulk of the novel and the writing style is unusual, and honestly, rather annoying.  Instead of using quotation marks, Rosoff instead keeps a steady stream of dialogue going from Daisy’s perspective, which makes it hard to pause and establish who it is that is actually talking.

On top of that, I just couldn’t get my head around the fact that Edmond and Daisy were having sex together when they were cousins…and that nobody cared.

Thirdly, I didn’t particularly like how the book ended.  While the novel for the most part recounts her and Piper’s experiences with the war in detail, the ending and the subsequent years later are very quickly hashed over, and you don’t ever get a proper sense of what she went through.

However, I did find that the novel progressed far better than I thought, and the second half picks up speed to make it more interesting.  Also, Rosoff’s perspective on anorexia, which is something that is frequently (and sadly, not always accurately) depicted in media, was both unbiased, yet truthful, which was really refreshing.

Despite what I think though, this book has won three awards, and it has been picked up for a film adaptation, to be released in 2013, starring Saoirse Ronan as Daisy.  And we all know how much Ronan loves a good book to film adaptation, as she has also depicted the protagonist in The Lovely Bones and is playing Melanie/Wanda in next year’s release of The Host.

Have you read this book?  What did you think of it?  Did you think it was an accurate representation of a war?  Do you think it’s acceptable for cousins to get together (in this context)?  Please let me know!

how i live now

For once, the trusty orange cover failed me-(image taken from http://www.images.borders.com.au)

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