Saturday, June 30, 2018

DNF&Y [6]

DNF&Y is used to explain why I gave up on certain books, and what about them just didn't work for me. What I disliked about a book might be something you love, so it helps to share your thoughts even when they're negative! If you would like additional information, please click on the DNF&Y tab at the top. If you want to join, you can link up at the bottom!

The Stars at Oktober Bend 
by Glenda Millard
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Beautiful, lyrical prose, told in two voices, lifts up a poignant story of two traumatized teens who find each other in a small riverside town.

i am the girl manny loves. the girl who writes our story in the book of flying. i am alice.

Alice is fifteen, with hair as red as fire and skin as pale as bone. Something inside Alice is broken: she remembers words, but struggles to speak them. Still, Alice knows that words are for sharing, so she pins them to posters in tucked-away places: railway waiting rooms, fish-and-chips shops, quiet corners. Manny is sixteen, with a scar from shoulder to elbow. Something inside Manny is broken, too: he once was a child soldier, forced to do terrible, violent things. But in a new land with people who care for him, Manny explores the small town on foot. And in his pocket, he carries a poem he scooped up, a poem whose words he knows by heart. The relationship between Alice and Manny will be the beginning of love and healing. And for these two young souls, perhaps, that will be good enough.

DNF at 17%

I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, the quote I used may have changed or been altered in some way, but I am quoting from what I received.

Bahh bahh black sheep (that's me)... I struggled with this after two pages, but I kept going until I got to Manny's perspective. I know a lot of people have liked this, and they say the story is beautiful, but I found it really hard to follow the writing. I understand that Alice has brain damage, and I appreciate the authenticity the author was going for, but it didn't work for me. There are no capital letters when Alice is speaking, she makes up her own words when something doesn't make sense, and she switches from sentences to poetry quite often. It was hard for me to follow, so I felt like I was missing important aspects of the story.

I thought Manny's perspective would have been easier to read from, but one of the first things he says is, "It was a girl. Her hair was very long. Down to her waist it was. That is how I knew that person was a girl," and I was finished. I know the synopsis mentions him being broken, too, so I guess it makes sense on some level, but it was a struggle for me.

I really wanted to like this, so I hate that it wasn't a good fit. However, if the formatting doesn't bother you, definitely give it a shot. I can honestly say that the voice is original, and Alice brings a unique perspective to the story.

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21 comments:

  1. I went on GR and had a look at some of the negative reviews...they don't seem to have problems with Manny (except one, where it says he's annoying or something), more with Alice's POV and the story in itself, because it was extremely sad and slow and didn't really explain anything. But I get where you're coming from about Manny. Though maybe he comes from a place where long hair are still a girl's thing, I don't know...Anyway, since you were already struggling after two pages, I suppose it doesn't matter that much 😉.
    Books about damaged/mentally ill characters are so tricky. I don't think you can make up their speech or fabricate their way of thinking - more often than not, it sounds fake...unless you do your research and/or know someone intimately and base your book on them (like Neal Shusterman with "Challenger Deep").

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    1. I haven't read Challenger Deep, but I'll look into it and see if it's something I'd like to read one day. Thanks for mentioning it!

      It wasn't just Manny's comment about his hair, it was the way he spoke altogether. I don't really know how to explain it... it's like he spoke on another level for some reason. I believe the synopsis mentions him having PTSD, but I'm not sure hot that effects speech--I don't know enough about it.

      Regardless, I wasn't able to lose myself in the story, so it just didn't work for me. If it sounds interesting, you should try it! <3

      Delete
    2. how* that effects speech (my brain is still in need of coffee)

      Delete
  2. I hate it when books are written with slang language or replicating muddled thoughts and stuff like that. It makes it so hard to go through the book in a nice smooth read!

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    1. I might have been able to work my way through it, if Manny's perspective had come across a little differently, but everything felt too choppy. It just wasn't a good fit for me, but I'm sure there are those that would enjoy the unique perspectives.

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  3. I can appreciate when an author incorporates a dialect or some other particular way of speaking, but it can make a story difficult to read. There are definitely times I can tell I'm not going to jive with a book in the first couple of pages.

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    1. I feel like the first few pages of a book are crucial to how I'm going to feel about it overall. It's like I either connect with the story, or I don't. There are times when I like the beginning, but it isn't until later that I fall in love with the story. However, certain books (like this one) are an obvious no from the beginning.

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  4. I hate it when I'm the odd one out with a book everyone likes, but I can absolutely see why this didn't work for you! I probably wouldn't have been able to get through it either.

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    1. Right? But that's why there are so many books out there! There's something for everyone, so we don't all have to enjoy the same things. :)

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  5. Sounds like quite the mess. I guess I could see what the author was going for but it sounds way too jumbled and incoherent. I don’t blame you for giving up.

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    1. I appreciate what the author was trying to accomplish, and the viewpoint she was trying to create, but I was more confused than not. I'm also not sure how many characters were mentioned, because Alice gives them different names. I think her grandfather was in jail, her mother gone, and she lived with her brother and grandmother... but I'm not sure how that happened.

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  6. It happens. Some books just don't work.

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    1. This is true. I don't think people should feel bad about not being able to finish a book--not everyone likes the same thing! I don't want to waste my time reading something I'm not enjoying, so I'd rather DNF the book and move on to the next book.

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  7. This sounds really interesting, but I get that it would be hard to read. Especially if both POV's have readability issues. Sorry it didn't work for you!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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    1. I think I would have stuck with it, at least for a little while, if one of the perspectives had been easier to read from. It wasn't a good fit for me, but I'm sure there are those that would enjoy it!

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  8. Oh phew, this sounds like it would be a DNF for me as well. I can't deal with repetition.

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    1. Honestly, I didn't even think about the repetition... but that would have eventually been a factor for me as well.

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  9. It's an interesting idea, but I think I'd have trouble with the way the narrators "speak" too. Thanks for sharing. :)

    -Lauren
    www.shootingstarsmag.net

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    1. I really liked the overall concept for this book. Alice has a story to tell, she's just not able to tell it in a way that's easy for people to understand. She tries to write down her thoughts and feelings, or paint the images in her head, but it was a hard perspective to read through.

      Delete
  10. Oh nope. That format would so not work for me. Impressive you made it to 17%!

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    1. I would have stopped sooner, but I wanted to give both perspectives a chance!

      Delete

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“Stuff and nonsense. Nonsense and stuff and much of a muchness and nonsense all over again. We are all mad here, don't you know?”
― Marissa Meyer, Heartless