Before You Forget – Julia Lawrinson

Title: Before You Forget9780143574071
Author: Julia Lawrinson
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 235
Category: 50. Read a book set in your country
Format: Paper

OKay, so I’d already read a lot of the well known books that are set in Australia. Or didn’t have much interest in them. But, Australia has always had quite a good young adult market so I thought I’d find something there. Lo and behold I found this little book by one of my favourite authors as a teenager. Now, for any Aussies out there you might habe been expecting a John Marsden or Melina Marchetta book to make this list but I loved both of those authors and have read pretty much everything they’ve written. Don’t worry though, I’m going to reread Tomorrow When the War Began since it’s a favourite of mine.

The first Julia Lawrinson book I read was quite by accident. I found it in my school library and the blurb sounded just like my life so off I went. For the record, that book was Obsession about a teenage girl with an alcoholic mother (I had an alcoholic father) who starts at a new school and develops a crush on a girl a little older than her.

What I’ve always loved about her books and continued to love in this one, is that these books really do reflect what it’s like to be a teenager growing up in Australia (and probably to some extent in other countries).

Before You Forget is the story of a girl starting her last year of high school but her dad is acting really weird and her best friend is acting really weird so she ends up with no one to talk to. Her dad is suffering from early onset alzheimers and her friend is suffering from an eating disorder. There’s lots of awkward little encounters with her family and friends that bring me right back to what it’s like to be seventeen and so excited to finish high school but also terrified of what comes next but also to feel like no one quite understands you. This is a book I wished I could have read when I was in high school.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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The Doubt Factory – Paolo Bacigalupi

Title: The Doubt Factory9780349002569-us-300
Author: Paolo Bacigalupi
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 496
Category: 25. Read an indie book, where the publisher is a small or niche house and not one of the top 6 publishers (Atom)
Format: Paper

Date Started: February 7th 2017
Date Finished: February 10th 2017

The perfect book for the amateur conspiracy theorist, The Doubt Factory explores the question of just how much we can trust the brands and products we’re using. Specifically the pharmaceuticals that many of us need just to stay alive. Are these same pharmaceuticals actually killing us?

Alix has lived a very sheltered and affluent life going to the best private school money can buy with a house that many of us would be envious of and a perfectly boring suburban family. Her dad works long hours, her mum keeps the house in order, she gets good grades and her younger brother is always getting himself into trouble. Perfectly normal. Her friends are also perfectly normal, their private school kids just like her, who’s parents work and earn enough money to also send them to private schools. Her afternoons are spent in Starbucks with friends, going to the mall or doing homework. At least until 2.0 shows up and things start getting weird for Alix.

A prank at school that she is told is all her fault, then her brother runs off and her dad starts freaking out. Why does 2.0 have it in for her family and why is she now stuck with Death Barbie following her around all the time to keep her safe?

As the plot begins to unfold so do the questions, like falling down a rabbit hole, one after another. And Alix does feel kind of like she’s falling down a rabbit hole as her perfectly regular life begins to unravel around her.

The book is a bit slow to get started, but once it does it’s a fascinating exploration of the way we embrace new products without really knowing the risks they pose to us. Is your asthma medication going to put you in a coma? Is aspirin going to kill your kid? Yes, this is a novel and as such slightly dramatised, but it does make you wonder just how much you know about the products you’re using and how they’re regulated.

Despite the subject matter this is a nice easy read, the language straightforward and the concepts well explained, after all it is a young adult book. Some of the twists I saw coming, some of them I didn’t which is always a plus from me. If you can handle a story that builds slowly and a somewhat dense main character (at least for the first half of the book) then you should give The Doubt Factory a chance.

Rating: 3.5/5

The Book Thief – Markus Zusak

Title: The Book Thiefthe-book-thief
Author: Markus Zusak
Genre: Historical
Pages: 584
Category: 49. Read a book that has won a literary award
Format: Paper

Date Started: January 8th 2017
Date Finished: January 21st 2017

I’ll start with a little note today, there will be spoilers in this review. And a second note, I have not seen the movie The Book Thief so I am coming at this completely fresh knowing only that it was set during WWII.

Those two things said, this book has been sitting on my bookshelf mocking me since I was still in high school and found it in a second hand bookshop and brought it home. Every single time I’ve gone to my bookshelf looking for something to read it’s screamed at me ‘choose me, read me’ and every time I’ve ignored it, fearing that like many popular books with such heavy topics it would not be a book that would capture my attention. This year I decided it was time.

Continue reading The Book Thief – Markus Zusak