I devoured How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff in about four hours. I’m left feeling terribly bewildered yet at the same time very happy.
Here’s the set up: In an alternate reality from our own, Daisy is sent to England (from New York) to live with her aunt and four cousins. Then her aunt goes out of the country for a conference, and a war breaks out in England. The Enemy has invaded and thrown the entire country into chaos. For a while Daisy and her cousins feel like the war is a great excuse to live by themselves with no adult supervision, but as time goes on they have to struggle to stay together and make it through the war alive.
I can’t really say anything positive about this book except that I loved it. Rosoff either confuses her tenses or purposefully uses them irregularly. Either way, that was annoying. The narrator went on in endless run-on sentences and there was no direct dialogue the whole time. In fact, there was hardly anything that could be called a scene at all. Eighty percent of the way through the book the narrator suddenly jumps forward six years in time, and you just get to see how the war ultimately affected everybody. It was confusing and at first very unsatisfying. There were supernatural elements that were never explained and the enemy and the reasons for the war are never named or explained.
And yet. Everything worked. The run-on sentences that sometimes ended up places they shouldn’t be were charming. The lack of dialogue and scenes enforced the idea that it was a memory of a time that wasn’t completely clear in the narrator’s mind, because she had just been a kid when it happened. And some thing stuck out really clearly, because that’s how things happen sometimes. The ending was jolty at first, but in the end I liked it. It was hopeful and not competley open-ended. The unexplained bits were annoying but you have to accept them just as child would accept them–they were there and that’s all there is to it.
It was definitely one of the weirdest books I have ever read. But if you like YA dystopias and stuff like I’ve mentioned above, you should check it out.
Edit: And did I mention that the hero’s name is Edmond? Because it is. Edmond/Edmund is probably my favorite name of all time. So that probably raised its status in my eyes just a bit. But really, it is a good book.