What a strange little book. I understand that it’s highly regarded and received the Printz Award for excellence in the genre of ya. Some of the technical aspects of the book, namely the style in which it was written, are actually well done and I quite liked it. But on the whole, this is one of those books that leave you with more questions than answers.
I liked the journal style of the book—the free flow of thoughts and disregard of sentence structure and punctuation. Each paragraph consists of one, long run-on sentence. However, it’s readable and it captures the nature and voice of the narrator, Daisy, rather well. And I suppose you can even see Daisy’s writing style as a metaphor for the war taking place in the story… the breakup of structure and order, replaced by disorder and chaos.
Yet, the book fails to explain what’s really going on here. There’s no context. When does this story take place? Is it the present, the future? Who are these terrorists? All we know is that they are the enemy and the “occupiers.” But why is this occurring? And why are there also attacks in the U.S.? Is it the same enemy? It’s never made clear. Daisy later states that the occupation lasted for only a few months, yet the repercussions seem to be long lasting. After six years, England is still in the midst of recovery. And why are there still snipers in NYC? Are the snipers the enemy or are they defense? Again, it’s not clarified. I suppose the author’s trying to make this story a personal account, focusing on how the war is affecting this girl, how she manages to survive and “how she lives now” taking each day at a time, rather than provide a generalized account, with heavy detailed political descriptions of the events. But that also just seems to be an easy way out.
I also didn’t quite like how the author handles the graphic elements of the story. She never gives the reader any preparation for these moments; they arrive rather suddenly and abruptly. It’s a shock to the system. For instance, consider the scene describing the shooting of that boy in the truck. Quite a lot of these sudden moments pop up in the story, but I found that they lost some of their significance. Instead of depicting the gravity and horror of the situation at hand—this war—it just becomes scenes added for shock value.
As the book stands, it’s fine, but I expected something better… something excellent that deserved to be merited the Printz.