The first thing I noticed about ‘How I Live Now’ by Meg Rosoff is the really strange writing. The narrative is really quick and choppy, and, although there is some form of dialogue, there is no actual dialogue. No quotation marks, just a kind of, ’I asked him who he was and he said he was my cousin,’ kind of thing. This is because the story is supposed to be being written by the main character and narrator, Daisy, and her writing kind of gets better as she goes, as if she were a novice writer at first, getting better as she goes. That makes sense, but it’s damn annoying at first, and I was about ready to put the book down because I was so uncomfortable with the style.
But I didn’t. Instead, I got sucked in by that fast storytelling, which quickly evolves into something unique and interesting. It grabs you up with its speed and doesn’t let you go. It doesn’t even let you think- you can only keep reading, and it’s only when you’ve finished the book that you realize what an amazing journey you’ve been on, what a piece of art you’ve just read.
I suppose ’How I Live Now’ is a teen book. That’s what section I found it in in the library. (I’ve never really understood this genre. What makes a teen book? Is it the length? The age of the characters? Neither of these rules seem to stand up- I’ve read adult books that were short or had teen characters. It’s certainly not the content. Most of the teen books I read deal with harsher or more explicit subject matter than many adult books.) The story follows Daisy, who comes to live with her aunt and cousins. Shortly after she arrives in England, the country is ripped apart by a war. The kids are left on their own, struggling to survive. And that’s not even half the plot. There are a number of side plots and stories which are also very interesting, and which lend themselves well to the main story. I had no idea what this book was going to be about when I read it, and it all took me completely by surprise.
The characters in this novel are extremely well developed. I felt like each one was a real person, like you could actually meet them. The story, which starts out simply, evolves into something scary and intense and beautiful and wonderful. I was stunned by the time I was done. The strange writing style sticks around, but you actually get used to it pretty quickly, and it stops being such a bother. It actually becomes kind of refreshing. Just don’t put this book down because you’re at first annoyed. You’ll really be missing out.