How I Live Now is a riddle, wrapped up in a mystery, inside an enigma. It had all the makings of a good book, and I did rattle through it fairly quickly, but there were just so many things I didn’t understand.
Daisy has come to live in rural England with her aunt and cousins. They live an idyllic lifestyle in the countryside and her aunt is away on mysterious business regularly. One day, her aunt goes to Oslo to deliver a lecture and the next day a series of bombs go off in London, as England is attacked by an unknown enemy. Power fails, systems fail and the children become more isolated from the outside world.
And that summary pretty much highlights the problems I had with this book.
So to start with the positives - I really liked Daisy as a character. She had a frailty mixed with a survival streak a mile wide and I really liked that. And the survival aspect of the story was gripping - Daisy had a lot to contend with and her resilience really shone through.
The story is told a few years after the action takes place and is reported as a series of memories rather than a verbatim recollection of events. This was interesting and unusual, but had the effect of making the narrative really unclear, like trying to look through a misty window. The style is accomplished, but unfortunately didn’t work for me.
Also, I needed more back story. I know it’s a fine line between enough decent backstory and infodump, but I really needed more in this case. There’s an amorphous war going on, or there might be because Daisy and her cousins live in the countryside and spend all their time shagging instead of, I don’t know, maybe looking at a newspaper once in a while to see if Armageddon is taking place on their doorstep. How anyone could be that uninterested in World War Three happening is beyond me.
Mind you, nothing really seems pique Daisy’s curiosity. Her cousins all seem to be psychic, but the discovery of their gifts doesn’t seem to surprise Daisy at all. Like, ‘Oh, he can tell what I’m thinking. But I’m not going to ask him about it, or wonder how he can do it at all.’
And the book has a confusing writing style, too. The author spends 80% of the book using commas like they cost money, no speech marks at all (squints eyes) and Random Capitalisation Everywhere.
Honestly. She does the Capitalisation thing for No Good Reason as far as I can tell. Maybe it’s in place of quote marks? Who Can Tell?
Gah. I don’t know. I did enjoy the story. Dystopian road trips are a good thing (in fiction. I imagine they would be fairly appalling in real life) what with the horror of a world gone mad and the terror of maybe not being reunited with your loved ones. The style was offputting, though.
If you like Unreliable Narrators and Stuff Not Really Making Sense, then maybe you should Give This Book A Go. (See what I did there?)