We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves (CBR6 #53)

Oh We Are Completely Besides Ourselves, why is such an awesome title wasted on a book I didn’t like? I did not like this book guys. I actively detested the point of the narrative from about halfway through. I cannot honestly suggest it to you, but I feel a little bad about that since it did work for other people.  Seriously, I think I’m the only one on Cannonball Read who rated it below four stars.

So, take my review with a grain of salt.

I picked this one because it was the December pick for the Go Fug Yourself book club on Goodreads. They all seem to have enjoyed it.  Having seen a few reviews I knew to go in clean and not read reviews, or even the book flap descriptions, since others had been spoiled of the twist

This one did nothing for me. There was so much that Karen Joy Fowler did right – but it’s all the structural stuff. The character growth, development, and pacing is all lackluster.  And it was very heavy-handed. SO HEAVY-HANDED. And a certain amount of first world problems, but mostly heavy-handed.

AND I’M REALLY TIRED OF UNRELIABLE NARRATORS.

I also don’t want to spoil the book for others, but know that the book explores the themes of family, and sibling relationships, and what scars us, and what makes us human… I just don’t think it did it very well.

This review is part of the Cannonball Read.

Code Name Verity (CBR6 #33)

I decided to finally read Code Name Verity when it was announced as the first Go Fug Yourself book club selection. It seemed like a perfectly lovely excuse to pick up a book I’d been meaning to for ages. I’m glad I did, because the book really got under my skin, and as a historian I was ridiculously pleased with Elizabeth Wein’s research and the selected bibliography she supplied at the end of the book which included a museum exhibit! *insert museum professional happy dance*

There isn’t much of the plot I feel comfortable sharing, since there’s a fair bit of discovery that goes on during the course of the book. From Goodreads: Oct. 11th, 1943-A British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. Its pilot and passenger are best friends. One of the girls has a chance at survival. The other has lost the game before it’s barely begun. When “Verity” is arrested by the Gestapo, she’s sure she doesn’t stand a chance. Her Nazi interrogators give her a simple choice: reveal her mission or face a grisly execution. As she intricately weaves her confession, Verity reveals her past, how she became friends with the pilot Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the wrecked fuselage of their plane. On each new scrap of paper, Verity battles for her life, confronting her views on courage, failure and her desperate hope to make it home. But will trading her secrets be enough to save her from the enemy?

I’ll admit that the first 50 or so pages of the book dragged on and on and on for me. Verity’s voice is not solidified early on, and that may be Ms. Wein’s intent given what Verity has just endured, but between that problem and the overload of technical information it was slow going initially. But, as Verity finds her footing in the writing the story really takes off, particularly as she begins recounting the genesis of her friendship with Maddie.

Perhaps what I love best about this book, and what earned it four stars, is that Code Name Verity is at its core the story of two best friends. I mean, sure, it’s also a war story, a spy story, a bit of a mystery, but it’s really the story of what female friendship is. And that was lovely. I’ll admit that I was surprised to see this book marked as YA, but since its theoretically a coming of age tale I suppose that works fine, but it shouldn’t stop you from picking the book up and reading it if you haven’t already.

This book was read and reviewed as part of the charitable Cannonball Read.