As I have been so terrible at reading this year, I decided to challenge myself to read all of the CILIP Carnegie Medal shortlist for 2013. This consists of:
Maggot Moon by Sarah Gardner
The Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan
Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgewick
In Darkness by Nick Lake
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle
A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton
Codename: Verity by Elizabeth Wein
So I have completed three of them! I am also half way through Wonder, but a child came into the library asking for it. We didn’t have a copy so I gave her mine. I’m just that kind of library assistant. 🙂
On the whole, I am unsure how to review the books have read so far. But here goes…
This was a special book. The style was simple but full and multi-layered at the same time. Usually I am put off when an adult author tries to imitate a child’s mind. With no specific examples to back up this statement, they predominantly come across as jarring, with no flow and annoying to read. Gardner, however, displays the thought process of Standish Treadwell, the narrator, as flowing and imaginative, entertaining and heartbreaking simultaneously. I was expecting to cry from the beginning, but didn’t until the very last page.
What makes this book exceptionally hard to review is that I don’t want to ruin “the twist”. Which isn’t really a twist, but a very good narrative tool, which is revealed slowly and slyly throughout the novel.
The Weight of Water
I was surprised by this book. It’s not written in prose, but is more of a novel length poem. I find poetry a little irritating on the whole. Especially long free form ones. I’ve never quite understood why it’s not just written as prose. Line breaks and displaced formatting – the meaning just never quite gets through my skull.
However! I enjoyed this. The narrative flowed as seamlessly as the water metaphors and similes that trickle through the story. Even the line breaks suggest the broken english of the books Polish narrator (Kasienka) even as they represent the waterfalls, rivers and tidal waves that life throws her way as an immigrant in Britian. A quick read, because of the formatting, but well visualised and touching in it’s delicacy.
I have just finished this now, and been left with goosebumps. It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. The story of two souls torn apart, forever searching for unification in a grotesque and violent world. A story of duty and love, destiny and blood. Seven storylines which lead into each other back in time to the first laceration. Spectacular in vision, breadth and depth.
It reminded me a lot of Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – the reincarnation of souls throughout history, the formatting of their tales. It struck a much deeper note inside me though. The concept of oneDegree bringing people together in an increasing disparate world, the desperation when a connection cannot be made. This was only a tiny part of the book, but it’s so real – so palpable.
Of these three, I certainly couldn’t choose a winner. The last for it’s viscerality, the second for it’s touching honest, and the first for it’s tragic imagination. All filled with subtle genius, emotion and a knife into the soul (but in the best way possible).