Tuesday, December 30, 2014

"How I Live Now" by Meg Rosoff

For some reason, during my purge of all my YA books, this was one of the few I chose to hold on to. Something about it was different from your mainstream books- the way it was written, the context of the plot, and the plot itself. In some ways, this is much better than The Hunger Games, because it's so much more real- I can see this happening.

This is a book I'm surprised I even picked up- the style it is written in isn't exactly my type. There are loads of run-on sentences, paragraphs that are only one sentence long due to that reason, random mid sentence capitalization of separate thoughts, and the girl who narrates it has problems with her weight- as in, she doesn't eat enough (not quite anorexia, but getting there). Somehow, the style grew on me, and made the book more raw and real-feeling than many other of the books I've read dealing with war.

The Plot (As Seen on Goodreads):
'“Every war has turning points and every person too.”
'Fifteen-year-old Daisy is sent from Manhattan to England to visit her aunt and cousins she’s never met: three boys near her age, and their little sister. Her aunt goes away on business soon after Daisy arrives. The next day bombs go off as London is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy.
'As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules, a place where Daisy’s uncanny bond with her cousins grows into something rare and extraordinary. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.'

I should also mention this book has incest- but it isn't as terrible as I felt the incest in City of Bones was. Daisy is Edmond's cousin, and they didn't even know each other until she was sent to England. In a way, this book provided the perfect recipe for this type of plot- because the teens were away in the countryside with no adults, it's feasible that might happen.

This is a book about the willpower to survive more than anything- at the end of the book, you get a glimpse of how some of the characters changed from who they were before the occupation. Even though they may have survived, they didn't survive intact. In a way, the lesson you take away from this book is summarized in my favorite quote:

"If you haven't been in a war and are wondering how long it takes to get used to losing everything you think you need or love, I can tell you the answer is No time at all."

            ~How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, page 111

How I Live Now takes a hard look at the consequences and horrors of war, while somehow entertaining you with the snarky teenaged heroine who grows through her experience. It is heartbreaking, but much more real due to its grimness. If you want to have your heart shredded to mincemeat with no promise of a happily-ever-after and don't mind thinking about how bad things could really be, How I Live Now might be the book for you.

Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars for a great, if heartrending book about survival.

Content: Ages 16+ for graphic scenes of war, cousinly incest, tobacco use, and mentions of teen sex.

Page Count: 194 pages in my paperback edition.


  1. Any book that can go head to head with The Hunger Games is a book I am interested in! Incest is such a creepy thing to read. So hard.

    1. I think 'How I Live Now' really gets to the nitty gritty of war, whereas Mockingjay and the rest of the Hunger Games trilogy focuses more on how awesome Katniss is (with a bow, and as a symbol of rebellion). Daisy is more a survivor than a fighter, and represents your average teen girl of this day and age better. Incest definitely creeps me out too, but compared with my experience of reading City of Bones, this one was a cakewalk.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Becca!
      ~ Litha Nelle


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